vacation

Personal, Travel

Winter break in Curaçao

As has become our tradition, my wife and I decided to take a mid-winter break and visit a warm place we've never been before. After getting some good advice from our friend Christine (check out her travel blog!), we decided to check out Curaçao!

One of the things that attracted us the most about Curaçao was that it wasn't just beaches. It has an incredible historic downtown featuring colorful facades along waterways, just like you'd see in the Netherlands.

Of course, the beaches were awesome, as well. We tried a number of different local beaches, some well-known, some less. We also opted for a day at Baoase Luxury Resort - you can pick up a day pass and get access to their beach, complete with luxury cabanas, food and drinks. We also spent a morning doing some dives - you can see those photos here.

On our last day, we dove a bit into the culture and did a walking tour of the historic downtown area with our local guide, Emlyn. He was a treasure trove of information and it was such a valuable experience - I highly recommend it if you want to actually get to know the culture and history behind the island. Also, we capped off the tour with a tasty lunch at a local market, our last meal in Curaçao and the perfect send off.

For a list of the different places we went, you can visit my wife's travel blog, Perhaps Patagonia.

Many thanks to the Curaçao Tourism Board for the tour!

Personal, Travel

Underwater Photography in Curaçao

I've been a certified open water scuba diver for over 5 years now, but up till now, all my underwater media was done on various GoPro cameras. On our recent vacation to Curaçao, I decided the time was right to try out some underwater photography using a better camera.

Given the price of most underwater housings for DSLR cameras, and my relative inexperience, I decided it didn't make sense to invest too heavily at this time. Luckily, after chatting with the folks over at Ikelite, it turns out a camera I already own is one they recommend, the Leica D-Lux Type 109. I picked up the housing and a red filter (helps control the color cast in tropical waters) and familiarized myself as best I could with the ins and outs of using it.

We did two dives in Curaçao, one called "Tugboat" and the second we went diving under a giant decommissioned oil tanker. I shot all these with no strobes, as I wanted to focus more on the atmospheric feeling one gets underwater rather than the underwater sea life.

Overall, I was pretty amazed at how well the camera & housing performed. It certainly adds a bit of heft when traveling, but underwater it was simple to use. The Leica also did amazing with no artificial light sources, with many of these images shot at 6400 ISO!

Can't wait for our next diving trip to try my hand at more underwater imagery!

Personal, Travel

Australia Wedding

I love the fact that my wife is half Australian, but what I love even more is that means we have family in Australia, and perfect excuses to visit. One of the Aussie cousins was getting married in May, and given that they made the trek to our wedding in Mexico, we couldn't say no - and didn't want to.

Sydney

My wife and I decided to fly in a few days ahead of the fam to get some alone time in Australia, and decided to just poke around Sydney for a few days. My wife had told me all about Australian coffee being the best stuff on earth, and she WAS NOT WRONG. We spent most of the time browsing cool shops, drinking coffees and taking in the beautiful city.

Gold Coast

Once the rest of the family arrived, we hopped on a plane up to Gold Coast and Byron Bay, where the wedding was going to take place. Ironically, I'm not a big photo taker during personal events, so there weren't too many photos to share. The wedding, in true Aussie fashion, was a blast.

Bondi

After the wedding, the family decided to spend a relaxing few days back in Sydney in Bondi, an incredibly stunning beach area of Sydney where my wife lived for a year. If I was ever going to live abroad again, this place might just top the list.

Taronga Zoo

While spending the day at the zoo isn't my usual recommendation, I'll make an exception for the Taronga Zoo. Not only is the actual zoo layout beautiful, nestled on a forested hillside overlooking Sydney, but you get to take a ferry across the harbor and a tram ride just to get there.

Bondi to Coogee

One of the coolest things about this coastal area of Sydney is the walk from Bondi to Coogee. A winding path leads past several beaches, a graveyard and a few coastal towns and the views are one of a kind. In the few days we spent here, I walked the path a number of times, ran it once and took PLENTY of photos.

Looking forward to the next visit to Australia, hopefully to explore Melbourne and some of the inland or outback or whatever it is you call it.

Personal, News, Travel

Taking a break on Grand Cayman

By mid-winter in New York, Erin and I are always ready to get out of town to someplace warm and sunny. This year, we used Kayak's "explore" function to find a cheap, tropical destination and lo-and-behold, we bought flights to Grand Cayman. The next step was finding a place to stay: after a bit of research, we decided on the Wyndham Reef Resort, on the East side of the island, away from the main tourist strip of Seven Mile Beach.

Flying to Grand Cayman was easy, JetBlue actually flies direct from New York! We rented a car since we were going to the other side of the island and wanted the flexibility. Since the island is a British territory, it was my first time driving on the left hand side of the road - I didn't make TOO many mistakes! As we drove across the island from the main city of George Town to the east side, it was nice to see the landscape change to more of a local feel. After a quick stop for a late lunch (or early dinner?) at great local spot called Kurt's Corner, we arrived at the Wyndham Reef.

As one of only a few resorts on the East side of Grand Cayman, the Wyndham felt like a little tiny village in itself. It has a huge stretch of beach, multiple pools & hot tubs, a spa, coffee shop, a restaurant, and of course a beach bar with awesome bartenders. Also, literally EVERY room looks out on the ocean. We had coffee on our balcony the first morning, enjoying the gentle sea breeze and waking up. We also stocked up on snacks & drinks at the stores right across the road which was majorly convenient.

There were a ton of available activities, and we quickly signed up for a trip to Sting Ray City. We also wanted to do a few dives, but as it turns out, since we hadn't been on a dive in 2 years we needed to do a refresher course and opted not to because of our limited time. At sunset every day, you can feed the giant Frigate birds that circle overhead from the pier, definitely a crazy experience and it seemed like kids and adults were loving it.

Happy hour was, of course, our favorite time, and we got to know the bartenders, Nazeer & Tony really well. They're both masters of the tropical cocktail, with any number of flavors possible. We were also lucky enough to be visiting during a full moon, and there's nothing quite like enjoying fresh seafood on a beach by the light of the moon! Even though we didn't take advantage of it, the resort also offers all-inclusive packages to make things simple and easy.

Hands down one of our favorite things we did was Sting Ray City. The concierge advised us to try the 7am trip, and avoid the crowds that amass by midday from the cruise ships. True to the advice, we were the ONLY boat out there, and had the entire sand bar to ourself! Plus, as a photographer, I wasn't going to say no to sunrise photos.

Our captain from White Sand Water Sports showed us how to feed the rays using squid - it was a little scary at first, but they don't have any teeth and are quite gentle. After the feeding, we had time to go snorkeling on the nearby reef as well, and it was full to the brim of sea life of all kinds.

As it turns out, 4 days on Grand Cayman was exactly what we needed to recharge our batteries. Although I might need to spend some time at the gym after too many conch fritters and piña coladas, it was a perfect, laid-back, relaxing getaway.

The Wyndham Reef kindly offered us a complimentary stay, but all opinions are my own.

Ambassador, Personal, Travel

Chicago weekend in the snow

Last weekend we were in Chicago for a wedding so I got the chance to really put the Fuji X-T2 to the test, shooting in the cold and snowy evenings in Chicago. Armed with just a 23mm lens (35mm equivalent) and an X-T2 body, I headed out in downtown Chicago to have some fun. I was quite impressed at how well the camera fared in the cold, snow, and moisture, and it received quite a few comments from others out shooting as well.

Client Work, Travel

Croatia with Slingshot.flights

When you get the chance for a last minute trip to Croatia, you say YES.

Thanks to Slingshot.flights for putting their faith in me and sending me off on this incredible trip. Think of Slingshot as your concierge for free reward travel - they help people see more places using responsible credit to open the door to the world. If you want to know more about how they work, I'll explain further at the end of the post.

DUBROVNIK

My first stop on the trip, and furthest south along the Croatian coast, Dubrovnik has recently garnered quite a bit of attention for it's heavy use as the setting of King's Landing in the HBO series, Game of Thrones.

Featuring a gorgeous, walled, old city, this town plunged me deep into Croatian culture and history right away. Winding stone streets and alleyways gave way to hidden courtyards and stunning vistas - on the second day I found a hole in the city wall, walked through and found myself at a hidden bar, perched among the rocks and crashing waves.

On the second evening in town I went up the hillside above the town to the old napoleonic fort to take in sunset. Although the tram wasn't running due to high winds, I made friends with a British couple and shared a taxi to the top. I opted to hike down in the dark since it was almost a full moon and why the hell not?

On my last day in town I took a boat over to the island of Lokrum for the morning to walk amongst the pines and olive trees that grow all over. Then it was off to my ferry (which became my preferred form of transport) to start my island hopping.

KORCULA

This quiet little island quickly became my favorite. One of the smaller towns I went to, it's historic old town was surrounded by a beautiful promenade with plenty of oceanside dining, and stairs down to water which seemed to never quite make up it's mind about being a shade of blue, green, purple or pink.

Although it rained the next morning, I wandered through the town, and sat down on some steps under an old bridge to read my book and wait for the rain to pass. I had the perfect Croatian lunch, a plate filled with fish, olives, marinated vegetables of all kinds, capers, and of course, lot's of bread. It was a quick stopover, but left quite an impression.

HVAR

Hvar Town is actually known as a party town, but I decided to forgo all that and take the first day out of town. I'd heard that the nearby town of Stari Grad and the adjacent Stari Grad plain are UNESCO Heritage sites, so I wanted to check them out. I opted to rent a bike and get some exercise and although the total trip wasn't a great distance (about 50km roundtrip), it was up and over a mountain pass, making for quite a bit of work. It was worth it: the views were spectacular and both sides of the road were covered in lavender fields, making the air smell incredible as my ears filled with the humming of bees. In Stari Grad, I walked my bike through olive groves, and hiked up the mountain overlooking the town to get a good view of the plains.

On my second day in Hvar Town I went for the activity most people were up to: lounging on the beach and swimming in the water. Although most of the beaches around the islands are actually pebble beaches, almost everyone is happy to rent you a beach lounger. I saw a ton of people walking around town with what I thought were yoga mats, but it turns out it's what people use to lie on at the beach.

VIS

The furthest island west, and one rich with history, Vis was the perfect last stop before my eventual journey home. On the night I got in, the Croatian national soccer team was playing a match in the Eurocup against Spain. It seemed like everyone in town, from kids to grandmas to even dogs were dressed in the iconic red and white checkered jerseys of the national team. I ended up watching the match with a bunch of locals in an outdoor pizza parlor with a giant flatscreen hastily rigged up to the pole outside. Luckily, they won and everyone was in good spirits that night.

On my last full day in Croatia I rented a scooter from my apartment's owner and drove across the island to the town of Komiza. From there, I jumped on a boat to another boat, and ventured into the famous Blue Cave. Light enters the cave by bouncing under a few holes in the rocks, illuminating everything in the perfect Adriatic blue.

Continuing on around the island on my scooter, I cooled off at Stiniza beach, an incredibly beautiful cove, secluded from the general thoroughfare and only accessible by a steep trail down from the road or by boat. Floating in the water, lying in the sun on the rocks and drinking an ice cold beer from the nearby stand seemed like the perfect last day.

Finally, on the road back, I stopped by an old wine shop for one last glass of Croatian red, and one last plate of the famous octopus salad. I scootered back into town at sunset, grabbed my bags and jumped on the ferry to Split for a quick night's sleep before an early flight home.

SLINGSHOT.FLIGHTS

I owe a huge thanks to my friends at Slingshot.Flights for their help in making this trip happen. If you're like me, and love to travel, but don't necessarily always have the funds to make cool trips happen, Slingshot.flights is like your fairy godmother. They help make those impossible travel dreams possible by helping make sense of the frequent flier system, credit card travel offers and redemption system so you don't have to. There's no cost to you so it's kind of a no-brainer.

Signing up is as simple as answering a few questions, so get going on your next trip today!

News, Personal, Travel

24 Hours in San Francisco

Although my wife and I were back in the Bay Area for 5 days, we often stay with our families who live about 30 minutes outside of the city. Because of this, we try to make sure to stay in the city for a night. This way, we can see our friends, eat at some of our favorite places, and generally not worry about having to head out of the city.

This time, we stayed at the Hotel Carlton in lower Nob Hill. The location is excellent, you're smack in the center of SF, with great places to walk to, or plenty of transportation options. Each JDV Hotel has a different personality, and the Hotel Carlton had a playful SF meets Morocco kind of vibe to it. I'm a sucker for bright colors so I ate it up.

We had a lovely evening, though we arrived late and missed the complimentary wine happy hour - damn! The next day, we spent a lazy morning lounging in the king sized bed watching TV and enjoying the city view. We briefly got out of bed to get a coffee and toast fix around the corner at one of our favorite nooks in the area, farm:table.

I had meetings to show work at a few agencies and magazines, which is always a fun way to mix in a little business and meet new faces. After that, it was time for a drink, and we met up with one of our best friends (and super talented photographer), Erin Conger.

Thanks for the good times, San Francisco! Back to NYC for now...

Special thank you to JDV Hotels for hosting us. All opinions are my own. All images shot on Leica T.

News, Personal, Travel

Back from Cuba

If you've been following along on my Instagram or Snapchat, you know that I just returned from a pretty amazing 2 week trip to Cuba. Part of my trip was spent shooting a personal project with my good friend and photographer, Pei Ketron, and graciously supported by Moment. The other time I spent exploring, photographing, and getting to know the people and places.

Obviously I'll have plenty of photos coming, but I wanted to share a quick teaser set of images - some of which I've already shared on my IG.

Personal, Travel

Exploring Puerto Rico, Part 1: San Juan

One of the many awesome things about living in New York is how easy it is to visit Puerto Rico. I don't know why, but it seems like plane flights are always dirt cheap and its status as a US territory makes things even easier. It's amazing that in the middle of a cold, NY winter you can hop a three hour flight and be in the Caribbean where your phone still works and everyone takes US dollars.

We spent our first day in Old San Juan, noted for it's colorful, colonial architecture, and giant military forts along the sea. We wandered the streets with no specific plan, stopping in coffee shops, saying hi to the alley cats, and enjoying the sea breeze.

My next post will focus on our next few days in between, but we spent the last day in the newer part of San Juan, Condado, where the luxury hotels tower over white sand beaches and the iguanas hang out with you poolside while you sip your piña coladas. Not a bad way to say goodbye!

Thanks to Leica for lending me the D-Lux camera for the trip. It was the perfect travel camera!

Stay tuned for tomorrow's post where we visited one of the top three beaches in the world!

Client Work, News, Travel

Snowboarding Sun Valley

I decided to pick up the Mountain Collective pass this year and try out a few new resorts I’ve never been to. At the top of my list? Sun Valley, Idaho. The snow is killer this year and I’d also been dying to see the town where Hemmingway made his home at the end of his days.

The Town

Ketchum is the perfect size. I scored a hotel in town, which made walking everywhere easy. On my first morning after a late flight, I opted to head to The Kneadery for some of the best breakfast around. After some crazy sriracha eggs benedict, hash browns, one of their famous blueberry muffins and many cups of coffee, I was ready to take on the world, or maybe a nap. After a little more exploring, I hit up The Board Bin and got a great board setup and was ready for the mountain.

The Mountain(s)

I scored with the weather on my two days at Sun Valley Resort. The first day was a perfect blue bird day, and I actually had to open up all my vents to cool down. Not only that, but the snow was soft, no ice to be found, and literally every single run was wide open and killer. No worry about crowds on a mountain this big.

On day two I woke up to a few inches of fresh with more coming all day. I spent the morning over on Dollar Peak, checking out the terrain parks and half pipes. The snow was calling me back to Baldy Peak in the afternoon, so I hopped a quick shuttle (they’re all free!) and was heading up the gondola in no time at all. A bunch of afternoon tree runs later and I was seriously in need of some aprés.

The Aprés

There are no shortage of options in Sun Valley for kicking back and having a few drinks. I started at the River Run Lodge where there’s usually a good crowd and local band rocking out. I also became a fan of Lefty’s, not only for their great selection of beers and awesome mug setup, but it was also right across the road from my hotel - bonus for that quick nap.

Once fed, rested and ready to head out for the night, I would head down to the main street in town to scope the scene. On more than one occasion I found myself ending the night at Whiskey Jacques where the crowd was rowdy, the music was local, and the beers were cold.

I still can’t believe that was all in just three days! Seeing the town, the views, and chatting up the locals has me itching to come back to check out the summertime action as well. I’ll definitely be back soon, Sun Valley.

Note: This blog post was part of a sponsored campaign with Visit Sun Valley.