Growing up, my dad told us a lot of stories about his adventures and travels. I was always fascinated by the things he’s seen and places he’s been and could never get tired of hearing his stories. It made me want my own adventures, it made me want to travel the world. For the longest time, it’s been one of my biggest dreams- to travel to new places on my own.
I spent October traveling around the United States and it felt unreal. I’ve met so many wonderful people and made new friends. I even almost conquered my fear of small talk! I chatted with cab drivers all the time; one even told me about her dream of becoming a famous film maker in LA. It was incredible.
I’ve been back for four days now and I’m missing all my old and new friends, I’m missing the beautiful (sometimes freezing) weather, and I’m reeeeally missing the food!
1. Hana, Hawaii.
I began this trip by flying to Hawaii for Brooke Shaden’s workshop/retreat. I’ve got sooo many pictures to edit, but I managed to finish one to show you!
Model: Caitlin Ahern
Hawaii is absolutely beautiful. We stayed in Ala Kukui (Pathway of Illumination) in Hana, had lots of Vegan food, and got to bond over drop bears and beaver butts. In 3 short days, we became a family. Every single person that was there was fun and amazing in their own ways.
On the day we got there, we all got to sit together and chat and watched Brooke, Kelly, and Marsha wrestle with a coconut – until Vincent saved the day! He managed to crack it open.
The workshop officially started the next day and we got to go shoot at the Red Sand Beach.
On the second day of shooting, we got up before sunrise and went to a different beach. And of course, Brooke made us jump into the water. Kudos to everyone who managed to stay in there! I got out almost as soon as I got in haha.
So much love for Brooke! (And Kelly of course, wrestling with the dog for a stick haha)
Here Brooke was posing for someone else (I can’t remember who it was – Joe?), but I couldn’t resist taking a picture! I also asked Brooke to model for me and she was happy to do it. I can’t wait to start working on that picture!
We spent the rest of the day back at the house. Brooke gave a presentation on Fine Art Photography, editing, and business. We also had a movie night!
I loooved watching Brooke do self-portraits! The way she works is so simple yet so amazing.
On the last day of shooting, we went to three locations. I can’t remember what the first place was called but I think it was a park (I have an awful memory).
We also got to go Waianapanapa caves and shot underwater! I haven’t edited my underwater shots yet but I will, soon!
The third and last location was the Black Sand beach, which was absolutely breath-taking! After we were done shooting for the day, we had dinner there in total darkness and made silly faces with flash lights. Oh, I miss being there!
The workshop/retreat was definitely a life-changing experience. I teared up when I had my one-on-one meeting with Brooke when she told me how much she believes in me and what everyone’s been saying about me. From shooting and editing to the movie night and all the laughs we shared, and when Rita, Maureen, and Brooke took care of me when I got sick, this was an experience I will never forget (cheesy? yes I know, but it’s true.)
It was so hard to say goodbye to Brooke and all the new friends I made, but I’m sure I’ll see everyone again someday ❤
2. San Francisco
After I left Hawaii, I spent a few days in San Francisco. I was there mainly to take a tour of the Academy of Art University, but I got to see some parts of the city.
I enjoyed San Francisco – I wished I could stay longer and go to more places, but looking back, I don’t see myself going to university there. I’m not sure why I just don’t feel like it’s a place I’d wanna live in. I’d definitely go back though and do more tourist-y things – like visit Alcatraz!
3. Los Angeles
After San Francisco, I flew to LA! On the first day, I went to check out MOCA, which was pretty awesome. They had an Andy Warhol exhibition and a few other exhibitions as well. When it comes to modern art, I have mixed feelings. Sometimes it’s absolutely stunning and sometimes.. it just doesn’t make sense to me. Then I went to check out The Grove and the Farmer’s Market.
And after that, drum roll please, I went to Iain Thomas’s reading. Did I fangirl? Yes. Did I freak out? YES.
If you don’t know who Iain Thomas is, shame on you. Ok, I’m kidding (or am I?). He’s the man behind the famous blog, I Wrote This For You. He also published a sci-fi dystopian novel a couple of years ago called Intentional Dissonance. I’ve been a fan of his blog for a few years now and Intentional Dissonance is one of my all-time favorite books. Meeting him was incredible, he’s such an amazing person and he’s touched so many lives. I also got to meet his wife, such a sweetheart!
I was standing there filming this with tears rolling down my face. Shhh, don’t judge me.
The next day, I got to meet the amazing and wonderful Robin Spalding! Robin and I have been online friends for a while now, and meeting her was so awesome. She drove all the way to LA from San Diego, and we spent the day shooting at Griffith Park, it was so much fun.
Robin got to shoot a new image for her traveler series and I was excited to watch her do it!
Silly faces are awesome. This was after I was done shooting her – I cannot wait to edit that shoot!
We were planning on seeing the Hollywood Sign after we were done shooting, but by the time we were close to the observatory it was way too dark. So Robin agreed to spend the night with me so we could go see it first thing in the morning. And she drove us all the way to in-n-out because I was dyyying to try their burgers. So sweet.
We got there in the morning, and it was sooo foggy there’s no way we would’ve been able to see it. So we walked around and did more shoots till the weather cleared up.
After that, Robin had to leave to get to work (tears), and I went to see Santa Monica Pier and Venice Beach.
LA is also a place I’d wanna visit again, but not live there. The one thing I didn’t like about it is the fact that it’s hard to get anywhere in the city without getting stuck in traffic. Oh, and cabs are expensive. Now I know why everyone was saying you need a car in LA. But then again, I woulda been too scared to drive there.
And that was the first half of my trip. Come back in a few days to read about the rest of the places I’ve been to! Starting this, I thought I’d have everything in one blog post, but it ended up being way too long and I don’t wanna bore you haha.
And I do plan on continuing the 52 Week Project. I’ll get back to it in a few days, I’m still kinda jet-lagged and with going back to work today, I still feel like I haven’t settled in yet.
*title of this post is from Metallica’s Wherever I May Roam
2014-2017 Events amani alshaali brooke shaden Brooke Shaden retreat events fine art photographer fine art photography friends Hana Hawaii I wrote this for you Iain Thomas inspiration LA Los Angeles new friends photography photography workshop photoshop photoshop edit Robin Spalding San Francisco travel United States workshop