Last week, I took a flight from New York City to Phoenix, Arizona, which is not something I ever thought I would willingly do. It was never on my list of places to visit. But several months ago, my cousin Myha told me she had a work trip in Scottsdale planned for early October, and asked if I would join her the weekend before her conference started to do a short trip through the state. Neither of us had ever been to the Grand Canyon before, so it was a good time for us to do it. She flew in from Minneapolis, we met at the airport, got a car, and started our drive to Sedona– a cute, small touristy town about two hours north of Phoenix.
On our way to Sedona, we pulled off the highway at Bumble Bee to look at cacti. Myha was super excited because she’s from Minnesota, and Minnesota has no cacti, lol.
From Bumble Bee, it was another hour to Sedona. We actually hit Sedona right towards the end of sunset. We checked into our lodge there and had dinner at Elote Cafe, which had the best empanadas I’ve ever had in my life. We also went to an art gallery and talked to some local artists (and bought some ceramics). My cousin picked the town as a stop for us and I didn’t know anything about it but I was kind of surprised by how closely knit their local arts community there seemed, which is something I wish were the same for New York.
The next morning, we woke up at 5 AM (something we would continue to do for the remainder of our trip) to hike up Cathedral Rock, a popular hiking spot in Sedona. We made it there a little after sunrise started, and hiked about 1/5 of the way up before we realized we were way too afraid of heights to keep going, lol.
After breakfast and packing our things, we got in the car for another few hours and drove to Page, a city that attracts viewers due to its close proximity to Lake Powell, Horseshoe Bend, and Antelope Canyon. We went to Horseshoe Bend, completely underestimating how scary it would be for us, and army crawled to the ledge. Some people laughed us, but we weren’t going to risk dying that way. I managed to get ~the~ quintessential tourist shot of Horseshoe Bend on my iPhone by lying flat on the rock, closing my eyes, lifting my arm over my head, and clicking the shutter. I didn’t even see it in person!
The following day, we visited Antelope Canyon, which was definitely the highlight of the trip for me (other than the potato empanadas at Elote Cafe in Sedona).
Antelope Canyon is located on Navajo land, and you have to book a tour with one of the companies run by Navajo families in order to get in. We went with Ken’s Tours at Lower Antelope, and were unexpectedly fit into an earlier time slot than our reservation since we showed up early and there was space. Our guide was a friendly young man named Nolan, who was super nice to everyone– he was helping people change their cameras to the ideal settings and going out of his way to do things for people that he didn’t have to do. He told us the story of how Antelope Canyon was created according to Navajo tradition, which was so important to hear because what I read online previously was white people’s words when this land had a history before white people.
After Antelope, we drove to the Grand Canyon and waited for sunset. We ended up viewing the sunset right by Yavapai Geological Museum on the south rim of the canyon.
And for sunrise, we went to Mather Point, which was a little more crowded but still had a beautiful view.
We spent the rest of the morning viewing the canyon from different points of the south rim, and by noon we were on our way back to Scottsdale for Myha’s work. We spent the last day at her hotel, and I flew out for LA the next morning while she was at her conference. Arizona turned out to be a really beautiful state, and by the time I left I was actually feeling pretty sad. As soon as I got to the airport I was already missing Myha, who despite living halfway across the country from me for most of my life and being 14.5 years older than me, has always remained emotionally close. When I was a kid she was the one taking all the family pictures, and over the years we really bonded over our mutual love for photography. I’m about to cry writing this so I’m going to stop, lol. But yeah this was my trip to a beautiful state <3 Thank you for reading and have a nice day!!
The other week I shot Olivia Wilson @ Jag Models! We had so much fun running to several different spots around Brooklyn to take these.
Model/styling by Olivia Wilson (@ohhdoubleyou)
Makeup by Laura Shynn (@laurashynnart)
We started the shoot by shooting on my block. There are so many cute houses on my street! I spotted an adorable pink house with hanging potted plants in front of it last month, which I hadn’t noticed before despite living in the same building for three years.
Olivia then drove us over to my friend Annika’s apartment. Annika has the cutest apartment in the world probably. Thank you Annika for letting us shoot at your place I love you!!
Our next look was shot at Wild Oleander (@wild_oleander), a retro, 70s paradise in nail salon form in Bushwick. We were allowed to take a few shots there so I also wanted to thank Sandra and Jessica for being so gracious! I would totally recommend going there for a manicure– I’m obsessed with their nail art. Since I’m a musician though, I don’t get my nails done because they would just get ruined ;_; Y’all have to go to live out my adorable manicure dreams for me though! You can check out their beautiful, vibrant, and super fun nail art here.
And for the last set of images, we just went back to my apartment and did some studio shots with a pink light and my baby blue backdrop which is at the very end of its life </3
One of my favorite things to do when someone approaches me to shoot is asking them what their preferred color palette is. My work revolves around color and location scouting with a specific palette in mind is one of the best challenges. Location scouting is definitely one of my favorite parts of my process, and for this particular shoot, I was so excited to hunt down pastel pink, blue, and yellow places!
I really had a blast during this shoot. Olivia was great to work with, and so was Laura! I haven’t known Laura for very long but she brought wine to our first shoot together and we watched Kitchen Nightmares during our break so I knew it was meant to be, so I asked her to join Olivia and me. Olivia was super sweet, easy to shoot with, and did an amazing job at styling herself <3 Here’s more to working with amazing women for the rest of this year and the rest of my life.
I’ve never done this before but I thought I’d start sharing my photos via blog posts. I find Instagram to be pretty limiting because of the pressure to keep my feed looking pristine (because it’s 2017 and artists use Instagram as their portfolio, lol) and my site is only supposed to show the best of the best, but I’m proud of and love so many more of my photos that aren’t posted on either platform.
It’s Monday, September 25th and summer technically ended three days ago. I had a really turbulent summer full of all kinds of weird emotions. If I hadn’t dropped out of school, I would have graduated in May. Everyone else I know did, but I feel like now that all my former peers are no longer in school, this summer I really started to move on and stopped comparing myself to other people. Success is not linear, especially when you’re an artist.
My summer started off with a trip to Iceland with three friends– Sadie, Flora, and Roshi. We stayed in a country cottage by a river, ate a lot of pasta and instant noodles and hot dogs because we couldn’t afford anything else, and were on a mission the entire time to spot the cutest animals (and if you love cute animals, Iceland has a lot of them. Everywhere). And we made our first short film.
After we wrapped up our time in Iceland, Flora, Roshi, and I (tearfully, at least internally, lol) said our goodbyes to Sadie who flew back to Los Angeles, and headed to France. We stayed with Flora’s mother in a suburb outside of Paris for the first two days before making our way to the city, where I met up with my friend Alex who I hadn’t seen in years.
After a week in France, I went back home to New York where I spent most of the rest of the summer exploring seedy motels, seeing old friends, and eating a lot of tortilla chips.
And! I went to California in early July and reunited with Sadie and our friend Chloe to shoot a video for Dre Green, a musician whose music I immensely adore and respect. We drove out to the desert and booked the cutest motel for the shoot. Afterwards, I went back to my friend Morella’s apartment in Los Angeles. We’ve been friends since 7th grade when we met in Yearbook class, and I stay with her every time I visit LA. For the 4th of July we went camping with her friends in a 1970s camper bus that I loved so much that I didn’t want to leave it to explore outside. LA was/is a dream and I always look forward to returning <3
I could write about my entire summer in detail but I’ll spare you the pain since 1.) I’m not good at writing, at all; 2.) pictures say more than words anyway probably and 3.) the more I think about summer the sadder I get because I don’t think I’m ready to embrace fall yet.
I just wanted to do an introductory post, but hopefully I’ll be doing more of these in the future.
Lil Bao Wow