2016 was a very “interesting” year for me but I guess that I’m far from the only one who can say that. It had highs and lows and both were quite extreme. That being said, I’m not here to get into the nitty gritty details about all these events. I’m back here writing on my blog because it has been gnawing at me for some time that I’ve been neglecting one of the things that I used to love doing on a rather regular basis. Does that mean that I’m back and will be writing more often? The answer is: I sure hope so!
“May you live in interesting times”
~Ancient Chinese Curse
Roller coaster year
So what happened in 2016?
The answer is a whole heck of a lot but the biggest thing for me was the fact that I moved from Canada to the USA. Looks like I picked a unique time in American history to do this too. I’m just a six-hour drive from my old hometown of Montreal but the cultural change is quite drastic in some ways. I went from a French speaking multicultural city to a smaller town here in Connecticut where I’m now living. It is strange to hear more Spanish than French (no French at all really) but hey, change is good and I love my new surroundings. After all, I’m also just one hour outside of New York City and yes… I LOVE NY!
So yes… This was huge, or as the new US president likes to say…. UUUUGE
Ok, before risking getting political, let’s move on.
I worked at getting my green card for the last two years and finally was able to make the move on American independence day, July 4th. That’s either ironic or a nice sign that this was meant to be and I favour the latter explanation. But hold on… wait a minute. Why did I make the move? What was the idea behind heading south to start a new life? That’s not as easy as a one line answer but the gist of it is that like for many Canadian artists, the US has always been the stepping stone to taking a major leap forward in their career.
Now I love Canada and so much of what my native country stands for but living in Quebec was not the best place to be for a travel photographer. After all, I want to continue exploring this beautiful planet and also have access to clients and an airport that is an international hub like JFK in New York City. I was also thinking about moving to a warmer place like Los Angeles when I first applied for my green card but that didn’t end up happening for several very good reasons. On so many levels, making the move to the US just made sense.
A year of Discovery
I’m now closer to some of the offices of the wonderful companies I work with like Fujifilm, Zeiss lenses, and Photoshelter and that makes it easier to collaborate with them on exciting new projects in 2017 and moving forward. I also helped launch a new photography tour company in 2016 and I’m terribly excited about the tours we are running and thrilled with how many new destinations we are exploring for future tours. Discovery Photo Tours offers photographers from all over the world the opportunity to explore some of the most spectacular destination on Earth accompanied by world class photographers and local tour guides who all share a passion for culture, food, art, history, and of course… photography!
Discovery was the perfect word to use for this new venture as 2106 was a year of discovery for me. I discovered that when times were tough, I had it within me to rise above the challenges. I discovered that I had good friends that I could count on. And, I discovered that Robert Frost was right when he said: “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”
“It is like a voyage of discovery into unknown lands, seeking not for new territory but for new knowledge. It should appeal to those with a good sense of adventure.”
If you’re a human being with a sense of curiosity, adventure, and you own any kind of camera, then you need to join us on one of our life-changing tours. Right now we are offering tours in Italy, Iceland, Jordan, Namibia, and Norway. That’s just the beginning. Our team is working on so many other incredible destinations for the next few years. Stay tuned and you’ll find several inspirational places to travel to with us, no matter your taste in photography.
Heck, even the new US president mentioned us on his favourite social media platform last week.
Okay, okay… that’s a lie but it may be a good thing that it is a lie!
Damnit. I said I wasn’t gonna get political. I guess I lied there too. This is becoming a habit. But I digress.
Now, where were we?
America the Beautiful
Oh yeah… America. Well, to celebrate my move to a new country my girlfriend and I decided to do some travel within the USA so that I could get a better sense of just how beautiful this country really is. And it sure is!
After some wonderful international travel to places like Namibia, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Thailand, Germany, France, and China, I got the chance to visit the west of the United States in Colorado, Arizona, California, Nevada, and Utah. In a word… WOW!
I’m gonna make a brand new start of it, in old New York!
Being in Connecticut allows me to visit what is perhaps my all-time favourite city in the world on a somewhat regular basis now. As Martha Stewart would say… It’s a good thing!
New York City is incredible in so many ways but perhaps most of all for the ethnic diversity and tolerance and acceptance of all these amazing cultures in one place. It’s also a pretty darned good place to get some exceptional photos. One of the images I have wanted to capture for years is of the beautiful “Tribute in Light” 9/11 memorial lights that get lit every September 11th since the tragic attack on the World Trade Center towers in 2001. What a lovely and subtle way to pay tribute to all the people who lost their lives on that horrible day. Every time I look at this image, I am reminded of how lucky I am to live and have lived in countries where we often times take peace, security, and personal freedoms for granted.
“Observe good faith and justice toward all nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all.”
But wait… There’s More
I also had the pleasure of exploring New England last fall to capture some beautiful fall colours in New Hampshire and some seascapes in Maine. I’ll save those images for another time but I wanted to share one last image from one of my favourite US trips of 2016. I was invited by my new friends at RGG EDU to join them and other industry people for a fun getaway in Puerto Rico where we had the chance to live it up in style with good food, beautiful surroundings, and exceptional company. Some of the people that joined in on the fun were old friends Renée Robyn, Sihn Truong, Alastair Joly, and new friends, Dani Diamond, Jose Rosado, Rob Timko, Aaron Nace, and Jake Hicks. Now that is a bunch of talented people! I was honoured to be asked to join the gang for this cool retreat. If you’d like to learn more about all these fine photographic talents, click on their links and head on over to the podcast page that Gary and Rob from RGG EDU put together. All of us sat down to chat about photography and our careers in the RGG EDU makeshift home office in Puerto Rico. My podcast is also available here.
For those of you who don’t know RGG EDU, they make the best photography tutorials in the business and you should seriously check out their offerings if you want to take your photography to a whole new level.
“Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.”
– Melchor Lim
2016 proved to be a very busy and challenging year but at the same time, it was a wonderful new beginning for me as I was able to move forward with so many positive things in my life. 2017 is starting off on a high note with some travel to new places like Norway where I’ll be running a tour next February with Discovery Photo Tours and the beginning of some other fun projects that I’ll share with you in upcoming posts.
This has been a long journey and I’m so grateful to all my wonderful American friends who helped me get here. I’ve been given great support, encouragement, from people from all over the world but most of all my mom. And to my mom all I can say is that I hope you both know just how much I love you and appreciate everything you do for me.
I’d also like to acknowledge this not so short list of other people who helped me get here. Pat Di Fruscia a wonderful friend one of the most talented photographers I have ever met, Brian Fabiano the man behind the curtains at Discovery Photo Tours, Ian Andes at RED and his wife Jen for friendship and guidance, Yuji, Justin, Lisa and everyone else at at Fujifilm for all that they do and do so well, Nicole and Richard at Zeiss for their class and unwavering support, Andrew, Amy, Deborah, Chris, and Todd at Photoshelter who make me love being a photographer, David and James at Formatt-Hitech for their vision, humour, and my new Star Wars hat, Ori and Erik at Viewbug for your sheer enthusiasm and kind hearts, and everyone involved with Discovery for your passion and talent, everyone who has joined me on a photo tour for allowing me to do what I love and to be surrounded by awesome people while I do it, and to everyone back in Montreal for making that city home to me for so long… I miss you all!