Travel: Vietnam, 2017 on Film

I left Vietnam to go back home to the states two summers ago knowing that there was much to still be discovered. This trip took me to Saigon, up to the central highlands in Da Lat, to the coastal city of Nha Trang, and back down to Saigon. This time around the chaotic motorbike traffic was less of a shock to me but the awe of the rich culture remained.

Though I traveled to different cities with varying landscapes and slightly different dialects, I found a connecting thread that I was naturally drawn to, which was confirmed when getting my film scans back. And that was the simplicity and beauty of daily life.  I began to understand the Vietnamese propensity for creating amazing things out of simple, raw materials. There were artisans and creators everywhere, using their hands and every available resource to make something beautiful.

I don't think I'll ever tire from visiting this vibrant country. 


Ballet in Paris

During my trip to Paris I had the opportunity to photograph Jennifer, a ballet dancer, yoga teacher, and native New Yorker living in Paris. I had no idea she trained at the School of American Ballet, the official associate school of the New York City Ballet at Lincoln Center. We decided to photograph at the Trocadéro in the 16th arrondissement of Paris across the Eiffel Tower and ended up drawing a crowd unparalleled to anything I had ever experienced before. Looking forward to many more future ballet sessions in Paris!

Travel: Paris & Strasbourg

When I think of France the first things that pop into my head are beautiful architecture, ballet, impressionist oil paintings, and pastries. On the list of things that inspire me, you’ll find all of these at the top of the list (including pastries :D). Winters are hard for me creatively; I need a change of place and change of pace. This trip to France this past March revitalized me and all of my senses.

I had been to Paris before, but I was much younger then. I did not find pleasure in roaming the streets aimlessly on my own then nor were my senses quite engaged with the sights and smells of Paris. 

Wandering the streets of the 5th arrondissement to the Île de la Cité I pass the Pantheon with university and high school kids sitting on the steps eating their lunches. I am jealous of them. I stand beneath the columns and feel unimportant. I photograph this moment and go along.

I sample many flaky and buttery croissants and pain au chocolat, each one better than the previous. I think about how many calories are in each but convince myself that I am walking plenty and that thought escapes my mind. I also drink many espressos and wonder why I can’t sleep at night. 

I take a train out from the Gare de l'Est through the countryside and find myself in Strasbourg, in the Alsace region of France that borders Germany. There I feel like am in Beauty and the Beast. I find a group of German bachelors singing in the middle of the street and watch as they gather a crowd. The timber houses and narrow streets are quaint and I wander around the Petit France, pausing to listen to street performers until I am standing at the foot of the Notre Dame de Strasbourg. Something about its quirky one tower design along with its towering size at the end of a narrow stone street makes a more lasting impression on me than the Notre Dame in Paris.

In the morning I run around the town passing the Opera National du Rhin and Palais du Rhin and reward myself with a bretzel noisette and contemplate buying some Alsatian biscuit cookies but convince myself not to, though they are delicious and definitely recommend. 

I am back in Paris and am location scouting for the week’s upcoming shoots. It feels like spring in the 2nd arrondissement and I sit under a blossom tree and savor a baguette stuffed with Camembert cheese and olive paste and pastries picked up from Paris’ oldest patisserie. The architecture reminds me of Washington, DC, which makes sense. The shorter buildings contrast New York City's skyscrapers and the pace could not be any more different. New York City is a stressful late-for-work on a Monday morning city whereas Paris is a leisurely take a walk and go to the park for a picnic city. 

I photograph a ballet dancer and a style blogger and feel so humble by the power of the internet that connected me to these people here in Paris. I’m excited and eager to return and discover more of the city, language, cuisine, and art. The colors, tastes, and sounds are what I bring back to New York City. The jolt of inspiration I needed to fuel more of my work. Until next time Paris.