2017 in review, my best and hardest year yet (Part 1)

Today is New Year’s Eve and in just a few hours it is the end 2017 here in New York City. This year has been totally crazy, but I would also it say it has been the most impactful year of my life.

I didn’t go into 2017 with the plan to spend 50% of it outside of the country, but that’s what happened and it has changed my life forever. In just this past year, I have visited Mexico three times, Bali twice, spent 2 months in Europe, crossed the Atlantic ocean by cruise ship, and witnessed an erupting volcano.

Each and every one of those trips has expanded my network and brought opportunities I never thought would be possible just a couple years ago. I stayed in some of the nicest, and the worst, places in my life, made lifelong friends and started a company that I’m super excited to build in 2018.

That is not to say the past year has been perfect, I struggled with a lot of personal things, I had some of tough travel experiences, and questioned the direction I was taking in my life. But each and every struggle has taught me something new and made me think critically. I’m excited to go into 2018 with a new perspective and know exactly what my goals are to create in this next year.

Let’s start back at the beginning; last year I rang in the New Year in San Diego with a bunch of acro friends at the AcroLove Festival, then spent the first few month of the year in New York City, but all would change in just a couple months.

In March I boarded a flight to Tokyo on my way for my first trip to Bali, Indonesia. Remember I mentioned one of those tough travel experiences? That was definitely one of them. I landed in Tokyo without realizing I had to change airports, I got sick, and my ATM did not work. This made for a pretty miserable 17 hours in Japan.

Instead of paying for a $3 train ticket, I ended up having to spend $80 for a cab ride and $75 for a closest to sleep in for the night. Probably the most miserable and expensive layover of my life, but I’ve decided someday I’ll give Japan another chance.

The end of that journey landed though landed me in Bali for the Wave of Love retreat hosted by Catie Macken and Kathleen Pizzello. I had always wanted to go to Bali and I was stoked that I was finally here. While I was primarily there to attend the retreat, I was also their photographer and videographer and managed to capture some great moments from that trip.

Something amazing happened though while I was there at that retreat though, I met my friend and now business partner Amir. I started talking to him about using photography to get free places to stay in Bali for the remainer of my time there, I had planned to stay a month.

He was on board immediately and for the next 3 weeks, we bounced around Ubud, Nusa Dua, and Seminyak staying at some of the nicest Airbnb’s and hotels of my life. The trip ended with a deal to create a few videos for The Legian Bali, a 5 star luxury resort in Seminyak and top rated hotel on Trip Advisor. This was a special experience to be at this hotel and we had such an amazing stay here, but it was still a ton of work. Check out one of the first videos we made for them here.

Creative Collisions Group, LLC was born from these 3 weeks in Bali and I had a new purpose for all the photography and videography I had been learning over the past year.

After Bali I returned back to New York City and began doing some photo shoots for a few friends and models in the city. One in particular is Eleanora who I met at a Surf Yoga Beer (SYB) event in the city a few months earlier. SYB is a NYC based company that host fitness retreats around the world. It was this photo below that both Eleanora and I posted on Instagram that caught the attention on Mantas, the owner of SYB.

When Mantas saw the photo, he immediately gave me a call because SYB needed a photographer for their upcoming Sayulita, Mexico trip 4 days later. Luckily I didn’t have anything planned and was able to hop on a plane to Mexico!

The SYB trip was another turning point in my career as a photographer, it proved that there was a demand to travel around the world to take photos and make videos. I also started to really love the concept of these retreats where people get together for a week to have an unbelievable experience outside of their normal lives. I’ve found many of these trips life changing, which is why I am starting to lead my own retreats in 2018! But more on that later.

While I was in Mexico, I also needed to get a bit of work done, but the internet was unbearably slow. I discovered there was a co-working space in town called Sayulita Co-work which offered high-speed internet and while I was working there, I ended up befriending the owner, Brad.

Sayulita, Mexico

Brad and I both have similar entrepreneurial aspirations so we became great friends, so it turned out that I would be back in Sayulita just a month later as Brad’s guest. That was my third trip to Mexico that year, I have a ton of love for that country and can’t wait to go back.

Since this post is now getting a bit long, I think I’m going to end it here and finish off the story tomorrow. Happy New Year’s to everyone and let’s all make 2018 amazing.