Manila, Sagada & First Impressions of The Philippines
Feb16

Manila, Sagada & First Impressions of The Philippines

After a visit to Spain that felt shorter than it actually was, I was off again. This time, I was heading to The Philippines – a new country for me. Not only is The Philippines a new country for me, but one of which I had absolutely no expectations. Honestly, I knew very little about The Philippines. My knowledge of Filipino people, too, is limited to those I’ve met. Those I met, I knew to be very friendly, and love photography and basketball. So, I assumed we’d get along. So far, I’m right. Manila I landed in Manila really late, and really didn’t have any time planned there. To be honest, I have little to no interest in Manila. I want to see the nature, countryside, and landscapes of the country. So, the next day, I was already off again. However, on the couple hours I had free in Manila, I did get out and explore a little bit. In doing so, I came up with some of my first impressions, and observations of The Philippines: People are extremely friendly and welcoming. Jeepneys are awesome – local transport. I want one. The people do seem to love basketball – there’s always a game on somewhere. There’s a lot of foreign guys living there and dating local girls – not prostitution, but dating. There is no way I wont stand out – I’m a foot taller than the average person. I’m like a giant Q-Tip wandering around the streets. That night, I caught the bus north on the same island as Manila. It was a 12 hour journey to the town of Sagada. Jet Lagged in Sagada When I arrived in Sagada I was on a bit of a high. And, looking back, there’s a good chance it was more of an adrenaline rush keeping me going. The drive into Sagada as the sun rose was stunning, and I couldn’t wait to get out and explore. However, as I got settled into my hotel in Sagada, it became apparent to me that jet lag was finally catching up with me. I took what was meant to be an hour’s nap before exploring. It ended up being a 3 hour sleep and I nearly missed sunset because of it. With no idea where to go and shoot photos, I made the mistake of asking the hotel receptionists. She recommended a place called Lake Banum. But, after hiking an hour to get there, I realized it wasn’t much of a lake, but more of a swamp. And, the reason I was pointed in this direction wasn’t because the landscape is beautiful, but...

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Some Days in Barcelona
Feb13

Some Days in Barcelona

With less than a week left in Spain, I was kind of left with a choice. I could head to Granada and Ronda and try to shoot both locations, or I could go to Barcelona and take things a little bit easier. And while I’d been to Barcelona before, and both Granada and Ronda are places I’ve been wanting to photograph for ages, with a busy travel schedule coming up in The Philippines soon, it didn’t make much sense for me to race all over southern Spain for a couple days. So, I headed to Barcelona. Location Scouting in Barcelona I’ve been to Barcelona before. But, it’s been over 5 years since the last time I was there. So, I wanted to spend a day to just wander around and get situated a bit. I also wanted to location scout a couple spots that I had been thinking might make for good photo spots. But, in classic Brendan-style, I was a little bit ambitious. My plan was to scout 4 different locations in Barcelona: Sagrada Familia Arch de Triumpf Plaza de Catalunya Plaza de las Cascadas The total location scout would cover a walk of over 7km, one-way. And, I only gave myself about an hour and a half to do it all. Like I said: ambitious. And while I did get way behind on my schedule to explore as well as shoot video footage, it was a nice walk around. In the vlog from the day, I also talk a lot about the business side of my job. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job and wouldn’t trade it for anything. But, I think it’s important to relay to people that my job is about more than just going out and taking pictures in cool locations. It’s about more than just exploration and adventure – it’s a job. And, like any job there are parts of the business that you’d rather avoid. I spent about 8 hours on this day in Barcelona trying to arrange meetings at a conference I have in March in Berlin. Honestly, my eyes nearly fell out of my head after spending that much time staring blankly into my laptop. Photography at Sagrada Familia Is there a more interesting building in Europe? Basilica Sagrada Familia is just stunning. And, while most people might find themselves a little bit annoyed with the constant presence of cranes and scaffolding, I think it kind of lends to its charm. It seems like the building might never be completed, and that’s kind of part of the fun. On my second day in Barcelona, I spent the entire...

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Meet the Intern
Feb06

Meet the Intern

After spending a couple pretty chilled out days in Valencia getting caught up on work and taking some time to relax, I headed to the city of Alicante.  The reason for my visit to Alicante is that I finally decided on an intern/assistant to work with me on certain projects, and he’s based in the city.  We’re not really planning a project to do together until April, but since we were both in Spain at the same time it made a lot of sense for me to drop in and say hi and do some planning together. Cheap Tapas in Alicante What a better way to get to know someone than over cheap tapas and beer?  Greg (check out his YouTube Channel) and his girlfriend Nellie took me out to a local spot called d’tablas which must be the best cheap tapas in Alicante.  The prices are ridiculous. A beer is 60 cents, and the tapas are 90 cents.  Essentially a beer and a tapa is a buck-fifty. I love the tapas culture in Spain.  I’m the type of person that would rather sample a dozen different things at dinner than have one giant plate of the same thing.  It just works for me. Q&A with Greg Snell My second day in Alicante, we basically took a work day.  But, we also headed up to the castle around sunset. Since I want you guys to get to know Greg a little bit, I ran through some “lightning round” Q&A questions for him.  We talked about everything from gear to travel.  I’ll do another full-on Q&A with Greg once we get down to Patagonia in April. After the Q&A we stayed up at the castle for sunset.  The light was insane.  The location was cool too, there was plenty to shoot in a small little area, so I ended up with a couple cool photos of Alicante I really like. The city is bigger than I was expecting, but it’s cool.  And, it seems like a pretty decent place to be based in Spain. What’s Next? I’ve got less than a week left here in Spain before I’m off on an adventure to The Philippines.  I’m so excited about that trip that it’s actually been a little bit hard for me to concentrate on work and shooting Spain.  It’s not that I’m not loving Spain, I am, I’ve just never been to The Philippines before – and haven’t even spent a lot of time in Asia – so I’m looking forward to the change.  I do, however, still have time here and will be hanging out and shooting some images...

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A Couple Days in Cuenca (Spain)
Jan31

A Couple Days in Cuenca (Spain)

Though I only just arrived in Madrid, I really wanted to get out and explore some of the other towns and cities.  I got a nice little break from travel in Medellin, Colombia, and I was itching a bit to get back onto the road and see some new places.  So, after doing a bit of research, I decided to make my way to a town called Cuenca, which is about an hour from Madrid if you take the fast train. Of course, I took the slow local train which is a 3 hour journey. Pretty Stoked on Cuenca After arriving in town, I headed straight for a part of town known as the Casas Colgadas or hanging houses.  Essentially, the old town of Cuenca is built on this narrow geographical feature that looks a little bit like a spine from above.  On each side of the spine, it’s sheer cliffs.  The houses in the old town of Cuenca are built along this spine with many of them built right out onto the cliff’s edge, and some of them hanging off the edge – hence the name. I was immediately struck by Cuenca.  I think it’s really easy to get a bit desensitized to travel when you do it as often as I do.  Places all start to look the same, or they all remind you of somewhere you’ve been before.  You start to take new destinations for granted a bit. However, every now and then a certain place shakes you back up a bit. It takes you back to the feeling you got in your early days of travel.  It teases at your senses and makes you want to explore.  That’s exactly the feeling I got in Cuenca.  I felt giddy, and just wanted to explore. And Then it Got Cold I was really anxious to photograph Cuenca.  There seemed to be a couple really cool shots to be had in town, and I was really looking forward to it.  Then, in the morning when I went out to shoot, it was cold.  And, I know that for many of you, especially my Canadian friends, you might laugh at my saying that -2 is cold. But, you have to remember that I’ve just come from Colombia.  Also, it’s not like I own any winter clothing. Essentially, I spent the morning freezing and fighting the cold.  The light was cool, the location was beautiful, but I just could not enjoy it as there was this biting wind hissing down the valley and hitting me on the bridge as I shot.  My hands got so cold that I actually couldn’t...

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Getting Settled in Spain
Jan26

Getting Settled in Spain

I’ve said it a couple times over the past few blog entries, but the theme of 2017 is home. Or, at least the idea of starting to look at options for a future home.  Spain has always been the obvious location for me to start to put down some roots.  It’s centrally located, I speak the language, I like the lifestyle, and it’s fairly affordable to live in as well. However, logistically, it doesn’t make a lot of sense this year.  I have projects in Argentina, Peru, and Iceland already sorted out for this year.  And, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to be jumping back and forth across the Atlantic when flight prices are so high.  But, I still kind of want to explore the idea of Spain as a future home.  So, I have given myself nearly a month to wander around Spain looking at different towns and getting a feel for what it would be like to live there. The first place I’ll be checking out is Madrid. Welcome to Madrid! After about a week of full on travel that had me jumping from Medellin, to Las Vegas, to Los Angeles, to London, and finally to Madrid, I was exhausted.  I was also extremely jet-lagged. The truth is, I wasn’t going to go out and explore or shoot photos, or do anything on my first day in Madrid.  But, I got the feeling that if I stayed tucked away in my hotel room all day I’d have a harder time getting over the jet-lag.  So, I made the most of my first day in the city.  I got out and had a really nice lunch off of a set menu.  It’s so nice to be back in Europe where you have the option of eating street-side and watching the world go by.  Then, in the afternoon I wandered around town doing some location scouting and shooting a little video. Some Photography of Madrid Day 2 in Madrid, I wanted to get out and do some shooting.  So, after taking care of some chores in the morning, I wandered out into the streets of the city to do some photography.  I hit a lot of the same places I scouted the day before.  And, for a little while I got some really fantastic light. Honestly, I somehow remember the last time I was in Madrid I had a hard time finding photography locations that I liked.  This time in the city, I feel overwhelmed by the amount of different locations there are to shoot.  In one afternoon – or, really, in just a couple hours –...

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Getting to Spain
Jan24

Getting to Spain

My trip down to Colombia was so necessary.  But, it also created a whole set of logistical challenges, and an array of travel diversions.  I had already bought tickets to Spain from Los Angeles, so it meant flying back to the US for a couple days.  Of course, if you know me, and you’ve been following my life long enough, you know that I didn’t take the easy way back to the US either.  It was a mission.  These are the travel diaries from my journey from Colombia to Spain – the long way, as usual. Winning Big on a Layover in Las Vegas My flight back to Los Angeles was set to a miserable schedule.  I booked a flight through Copa Airlines that had 2, 10+ hour layovers just to save $400.  The first layover was spent in Panama City where I didn’t leave the airport and instead just sat in the business class lounge all day doing work. By the time I got to my second layover, in Las Vegas, I was stir crazy from all the time sat in airplanes and airports.  And while I didn’t really feel like going out into the streets of Vegas in the middle of the night, with a 10+ hour layover there, I decided to head out and shoot some night photography. I wandered along the strip of Las Vegas for a couple hours getting some shots.  But, it was cold and I wasn’t dressed or prepared for the cold.  So, I decided that I’d head into one of the casinos and chuck down $80 to play until the money ran out, or I warmed up; whichever came first.  Somehow, though, within about 30 minutes I managed to turn that $80 into $200.  I decided to walk away from the table.  But, when realizing that I still have about 7 hours to kill, I put my initial $80 investment into my pocket, and decided to gamble away with the $120 I earned.  Within about 90 minutes, that $120 became $2320.  And, after losing two hands of blackjack betting $100 a piece, I decided to call it quits with a night’s profit of over $2000.  I’m still a little in shock that it happened.  I always seem to hang on for a while playing blackjack, as I play the odds.  Sometimes I win a little, but never do I turn out a profit like that.  I’m still amazed. I only gamble about once every 3 years, and it was fun.  But, believe me when I say that I won’t be changing my career from professional travel photographer to professional blackjack player....

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