So here it is! Part two and the rest of the places I went to in the US. If you haven’t read part 1, it’s here.
After LA, I headed to Kentucky to visit one of my oldest and closest friends, Autumn Horton. Autumn and I met online when we were 13 or 14 (10 years ago!!) and have been friends since but never met in person. I finally got to meet her and her family, and it was just amazing. When she came to pick me up from the airport we had this moment (I’m sure anyone watching woulda thought it was hilarious), she called my name, I turned around, gasped, and hugged her. Then we pulled back and stared at each other, and hugged again. I don’t know what the first thing we said to each other was cause the whole thing felt unreal.
I got to spend four days with Autumn and her family, and I fell in love with Kentucky. It’s SO beautiful there!
Autumn had a shoot scheduled and she let me tag along and take some BTS pictures – it was fun to watch her work! (And isn’t she absolutely gorgeous?!)
And we got to celebrate her birthday together! We started the day by going to Cracker Barrel for breakfast (pancakes and biscuits and gravy om nom nom), then we went to shoot! Autumn had an idea for a gypsy inspired portrait that she wanted me to shoot (of her), but since I’ve never really done just portraits, we brainstormed together a little and came up with this:
I did consider editing out her piercing and blue hair, but I didn’t wanna do it. I just feel like this picture really represents who Autumn is and captures her beauty; I wouldn’t want to change a thing about this girl!
We also went to an abandoned school, it was so exciting and kinda scary. And I got Autumn to model for me again!
I would want to live in Chicago. I loved it so much. There’s a university there that I’m considering applying to, but I didn’t get a chance to go see it.
If you guys have been reading my blog regularly, you know I always mention my friend TJ – he’s kind enough to let me use his cloud pictures in my work. I got to spend a week with him and his wife, Therese, and it was SO much fun!
The first day I got there, they took me to a football game, because according to TJ, that’s the most american thing I could do. I don’t, and will never, understand sports. TJ and Therese tried to explain what was happening and I tried to keep up, but all I knew is that when the people in purple cheered, that means something bad happened. And when the people in red (including TJ and Therese) cheered, that means something awesome happened. What I loved so much about the game is how involved everyone was. They’re so into it, and the energy was just amazing. But I froze to death. Well, almost. It was SO cold! Thank god TJ and Therese know how to pack for that kind of weather, they brought extra jackets and I ended up wearing two (over the sweater I was already wearing), and gloves.
Then the next day, we went to Open House Chicago. That was so much fun – the architecture in Chicago is just AMAZING.
and then this happened..
We spent a lot of time in Chicago just hanging out and walking around (and eating ALL THE YUMMY FOOD *drool* the food in Chicago is so good). TJ and I tried to work on a picture together but it didn’t go as planned – by the time we got to our location, the sun was setting and it got dark way too fast.
We got to go see the bean! Or um, Cloud Gate. It was pretty cool. When TJ and Therese told me about it, I asked them if I can climb it.. I had no idea how big it is, I’d never even seen pictures of it. They were like um no you can’t, it’s big. So silly me goes “challenge accepted!”. And when we got there I was like “yeahhh, no.”
(I still wanna stand on top of it though)
We also got to go to the Sky Deck at Sears Tower (Willis Tower)!
I GOT TO SEE AND TALK TO NOAH GUNDERSEN. I loooove Noah Gundersen. His music is just so beautiful.
After the concert, I decided I really want to meet him. I was going to find anyone that works there, tell them I came all the way from Dubai, and I really wanna meet him if there’s any way they can make something happen. Then I chickened out. Then TJ and Therese kept telling me it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and I’m never gonna get to do this again and after a while I said OK I’ll do it. So I did – the person I asked went to ask around and she said she’s not sure but I should hang out for a while just in case. Then TJ talked to the merch guy and Caroline Rose (who was one of the opening acts, and she’s pretty amazing), explained the situation, and the merch guy told us to wait and that Noah will be out soon anyways and if not he’ll make something happen. We waited for like 15 minutes, then there he was. I froze and I was awkward and TJ did most of the talking but it was AMAZING. I still can’t believe it happened.
That concluded my stay in Chicago. I left the day after the concert in the morning, and it was so hard to leave. At this point I was considering going home – having to leave friends (in Chicago and Kentucky) got me upset and I was missing my family so much. But I knew I’d regret skipping *drum roll*..
5. New York!
Yeah, I couldn’t miss New York. I’ve always dreamed about going to New York and I’m really glad I did.
On the first day, I took a tour bus to see the city and I swear I just felt like I was in a movie.
Once again, I underestimated the weather. I wasn’t planning on getting off the tour bus, just so I could see the city before the sunset, but I had to. I got so cold (despite being in a sweater), and the only thing I could find was the I *heart* New York hoodies. Yeah, I walked around like a tourist (as if the camera didn’t give it away). Then after I finally felt a little warm, the bus took forever to get there and it got dark. Boo. I still tried to take pictures though (bad, blurry pictures!)
After the tour, I went to try Carnegie Deli’s sandwiches (a friend said that I can’t go to New York and not try it). I got the Woody Allen and it was MASSIVE. I loved the place though, and I loved how everyone sits with everyone. I met some pretty interesting people. I was a little awkward at first, but there was a guy and his wife, and a girl on her own, sitting on the same table I was at and we just kept talking the whole time. The guy told me that the moment I sat down he turned to his wife and told her that I remind him of his daughter, then he went on to explain..
Anyways! More pictures of Times Square cause Times Square is awesome *-*
The next I got to shoot with the awesome Vincent Minor! Vincent was one of the guys at Brooke’s workshop in Hawaii, and he lives in New York so we agreed to meet up once I got there.
We went to Prospect Park and it was so beautiful. We got to collaborate on a few pictures and I’m still (not so patiently) waiting to see what he does with the pictures!
I managed to finish one of mine though:
Vincent asked a model to come along and we went to shoot in Sleepy Hollow the next day. We went to a cemetery and it was amazing! He got to do two pictures while I was just helping until I could think of something to do. And when I did, the security found us and kicked us out. Whoops XD so we went driving around, had lunch, then we went to Central Park and I got to do a shoot there! (I still have to edit that one).
It’s so much fun having so many photographer-friends. We never question each other and we can say and do the weirdest things without having anyone judge us. I mean, other people might, but we don’t judge each other. The weirder, the better.
The day after that was my last day in New York. I went to B&H (all that camera gear *-*) and bought a new tripod cause I broke mine, then I went to a broadway show! It was amazing. I saw The Curious Incident Of The Dog In the Night-Time and it was SO GOOD. I read the book a few years ago and it’s still one of my all-time favorite books, I got so excited when I found out they made it into a broadway show AND that it would be playing while I’m in New York. That was my first broadway show ever and I absolutely loved it.
Now that I’m back, it’s so hard to believe that I spent a month away from home. It was such an incredible adventure and I really look forward to my next one. Dunno where or when it’ll be, but I know it’ll be awesome. And I really miss the U.S. and all the friends I made and all my old friends but I know I’ll go back, I loved it too much not to.
2014-2017 Events amani alshaali autumn horton broadway chicago fine art photographer fine art photography friends inspiration kentucky manhattan new york noah gundersen photography photography workshop photoshop photoshop edit thoughts tj nuckolls travel travel blog travel journal United States vincent minor