Can you guys believe that 2018 is almost over? This year went by so quick that there were times where I just wanted everything to slow down. 2018 was a transitional year for me. I quit my full time job in mid April and started traveling all over the world. I got to make new friends from different countries and caught up with old friends from different states. I also got to travel to places that’s been on my bucket list for quite some time and got to explore uncharted lands. But not everything was all good. I got into my first car accident in January when a truck that was merging into my lane didn’t see me and hit the side of my car. Luckily I was alright, but I had to pay for the damage out of pocket since I wasn’t covered with insurance on my side and I was not able to get any information from the truck driver. I went into a deep slump creatively throughout much of August. It’s the worst creative slump that I’ve ever experienced in my life. I had no motivation to create and I stopped engaging with my followers. It got so bad to the point that I wouldn’t check Instagram (which is a daily routine of mine, for better or worse) and I wouldn’t even edit photos for days. Luckily with the help of my dear photographer and model friends I was able to get out of that slump and slowly started to create content. I went on the most challenging adventure of my life (both physically and mentally) when I went to Peru with my friend Farah. On the bright side, 2018 was also the first time in 3 years that I started blogging again. I think I’m slowly gaining a passion for blogging as it’s a new way for me to document my photoshoots and travels. This year I got to become a brand ambassador for Otterbox. 2018 was also the first time where I had my work published in a magazine called CREATORS MAGAZINE for their No 3 Issue. This was also the year where I unlocked my true modelographer skills by being in various videos (such as this one) by my videographer friend Michael Nguyen. To top off the year, Subtle Asian Traits became a thing and out of that came ACN (Asian Creatives Network). The ACN LA chapter had their first event a few weeks ago and it was so fun! I got to meet and network with so many other creatives in the 626 and SoCal area. I’m really excited for what 2019 holds for ACN LA and ACN in general. Lastly, 2018 would not be complete without my photographer and model friends. Thank you to all the models that have worked with me all throughout this year. I also want to thank my photographer friends for continuing to motivate, inspire, and pushing me to become a better photographer. On that note I would like to present to you my top 5 photos that I’ve taken in 2018.
Note: These are not based on Instagram statistics, instead these are ranked based on personal preference. I am not saying that #5 was my least favorite. I love all of these 5 photos. It was very difficult for me to choose which 5 photos I would include in this post as there were so many good ones to choose from.
#5 Queen of the Garden
I felt like this was the year where I started to experiment more and dive deep into Photoshop. I felt more confident than ever when it comes to doing conceptual edits such as this one. I was really inspired by conceptual photography on Flickr which led me to creating the concept for this photo. I’ve always wanted to use butterflies in my pictures, but I’ve never came across a photo that would fit the imagery that I had in my mind. When I went to Seattle and shot with Angela, that all changed when we shot in front of a garden themed house. In terms of conceptual photos, this is one of my proudest work to date which definitely deserves a spot in my top 5 for this year.
#4 Snowy Moments at Mystic Hot Springs
When it comes to capturing photos, sometimes I like to conceptualize the photo in my mind first of what I want. I have a list of “photo goals” in my notes which are moments I specifically like to capture taking into account weather condition, lighting, angle, etc. I always wanted to capture a scene where my subject was in the hot spring with snow falling from the sky. I originally wanted to execute this photo in Japan at Hokkaido’s many monkey onsens that they have, but I couldn’t resist capturing this moment when we were at the Mystic Hot Springs in Utah.
A little backstory of me and Megan’s journey to get to this hot spring. We were driving up from the south, and on our way we experienced a snow storm. We saw cars on the side that were stuck in the snow, and other cars that were flipped over. Being pretty shook at the sight, we kept driving and went to a gas station to fill up our tank. There were at least 3 people that came up to us saying that the tires on our Prius were “bald”. This is bad because the tires will not have any traction driving on snowy/icy roads. Debating what we should do, we called the owner of the Prius since we used Turo to book our car. After much thinking, we decided to not get new tires, take a risk, and drive all the way to the hot springs in Monroe. After about 30 minutes out from the gas station, we began to see clear skies and we eventually made it to our destination.
#3 Taste the Rainbow
We found a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. This is the thought that crossed my mind when I looked back at the screen on my camera immediately after taking this photo. A group of my photographer and model friends decided to take a day trip to the Mojave Lava Tubes. If you don’t know what the lava tubes are, it is basically a cave in the Mojave desert where there are holes up top. Based on the time of day and the angle of the sun, you’re able to see light beams pierce through the cave. It’s quite the phenomenon. In this shot, my friend Efrain let Ally borrow his prism. Since the light beam was so strong, when the light hit the prism, it created this strong rainbow effect that I’ve never seen before. Even though some of us got the same shot, we differentiated ourselves through our post processing editing techniques. What you see before your eyes on your laptop or phone screen is the real deal. There was no Photoshop manipulation used in this only color correction. Because of how unique this shot was, it deserves to be in my top 3.
#2 Surreal Moments at Machu Picchu
Have you ever been to a place that you’ve only seen in textbooks and wished you could be there someday? Have you ever been to a place that took your breath away? This was one of those moments.
On the morning of heading up to Machu Picchu from Aguascalientes, we couldn’t believe that we were just hours away of seeing the ancient Inca city with our very own eyes. However, as we peered through the window from our tour bus, all we could see was fog. Hoping that the fog would life we started hiking upwards to the iconic spot that overlooks the city and Machu Picchu. To much of our disappointment, we were not able to see anything! It was completely covered with fog. At this point of our tour, our guide told us that we had two options: to continue hiking down to the ruins of the city or to stay up top. I remember one couple was very upset with the tour guide telling them that they had traveled thousands of miles just to see Machu Picchu. Most of the people in our group went down to the ruins while me and Farah decided to wait it out and hope that the fog clears up. After 30 minutes of waiting, we saw that the fog was becoming thinner. It was kind of like a game, where the fog was rolling in and out, in and out and there was only a short amount of time to capture a photo where you can clearly see both the city and Machu Picchu. After a few minutes, the fog was starting to clear out and we could see Machu Picchu! Our eyes lit up with excitement as we started shooting. I was able to snap this shot of Farah looking out into the distance of Machu Picchu. Although not clearly visible, I love this photo for the fact that the fog adds a sense of wonder and mystery. For all you wanderlusters out there, this one’s for you.
#1 Best Sunrise in My Life
Here is my #1 photo that I’ve taken this year and it is in the land of fire and ice: Iceland. This specific location is known as Stokksness or Vestrahorn. The region is known for it’s jagged mountain peaks that rise up from the black sand beach and has a lagoon that sends waves crashing into the nearby dunes. Prior to coming here for sunrise, me and Michael scouted the location the previous day for sunset. Although we were kind of late to see the sunset, we had a visual map of how to get to the spot efficiently the following day. We woke up at around 4:00am and left our Airbnb in Höfn around 4:20am. The sky was already exploding in color on our way there. We got to Stokksness around 4:35am. After about an hour, we witnessed the most beautiful sunrise that we had ever seen. The sun started to peek through the clouds and the light hit the mountain that was in front of us. We started freaking out at the sight and grabbed as many shots as we could with the lit up mountain in the background. It was as if God was highlighting a specific moment in my life reminding me that He will always be there no matter what.
As always, thank you guys for reading until the end! This was the most fun I had writing a blog post because I got to look back at all the cool moments I got to experience this year. I’m really looking forward to 2019 because I got some exciting things planned. I’m a little sad that this will be my last blog post for 2018 but I’m ready to start strong with some new content for next year. I’ll see you guys on the flip side in 2019!