Looking back to look forward.

Ummm... my last blog post was in October?  Really sorry, blog, that I didn't give you love.  The problem of having two options of sharing stories, is that one is most likely going to be left aside for the other.  That combined with being in a writer's block surely doesn't help.  Or maybe that's an excuse.

So I guess a recap story of the year to help me get back into writing is in order? 

This year I didn't spend much time traveling around as much as I wanted to, but instead I spent a lot of time exploring the nuances of Philadelphia.  So much so that I created a food and guy's guide around Philadelphia called "Treat yo'self." And born from that was a series of explorations of shops, "Portraits of Food in Philadelphia" which caused some major dents in my wallet. So with that, I put a little pause on that.  Can't eat myself into debt, right?  No matter how delicious.  Well along with the shops I went to majority of the night markets that The Food Trust held, as well as Ye Shi's. 

Since I have been accumulating my vacation days since the new fiscal year at work, in July, I am back in the double digits of vacation days to go travel.  I know I have been saying I am planning on going back to Vietnam.  The lack of necessary vacation days did put a crimp on that.  I am not going to quit my day job to do so, as that is my source of income since I am not a full time photographer.  But fear not, I do plan on returning.

What I have accomplished this year was one note worthy story and two documentations for my personal project, "In Search of Little Saigon in America."  As well as two shoots for a rowing magazine and one for Edible Philly. 

The first was a story I wrote and photographed about South Philly Barbacoa called, "Illegal Food." I write about Cristina's life as an "illegal" immigrant in America, while being one of many who form the backbone of America's hospitality and agriculture industry.  Considering doing a follow up story, or stories, in 2016, since I am attending right to work meetings in Philadelphia.  As long as the participants are willing to share their story and allow me to take their portraits.

Then, for my personal project, "In search of Little Saigon in America" I realized that I couldn't just go to different shops to photograph their dishes and nuances, but also write about them and their lives.  These were the two I was able to document and photograph. 

As I said before, it is really a tricky thing to get shops to agree to both interviews and to take their portraits.  Especially on refugees from the Vietnam War, bringing back memories of tragedy is always difficult.  But as this is a long term project, I am just going to continue to press forward to get these interviews and portraits. 

For row 360 I photographed Henrik and Meghan.  I think Henrik's post on exposure got the most likes and views ever. 

One of the shops I photographed for Edible Philly was Gavin's Cafe.  The shop, and owner, were definitely a delight and highlight from that shoot.

In mid September I photographed chef's apparel from D370


In terms of gear and services, I continued my subscription to Exposure (I hope you are a subscriber to my feed), purchased a Sigma ART 24mm, bought some lighting tools, lots of cards for mailers to send to publications, and I purchased a spot to go to Penny De Los Santos' workshop in NYC in January of 2016.

In summation of 2015It was a year of constant pushing, evolving, and being around Philadelphia.  I recognize the areas where I have done much better compared to 2014 and before, but also areas where I need to improve.  I also got to meet Mike Solomonov!

My hopes for 2016 and the future? To get back to traveling internationally, get more stories for "In Search of Little Saigon in America," more paid work, and further my confidence.