The Lifestyle of Amazonia

It’s a wrap! I have finally finished up all the home and lifestyle shots that I need to submit to the magazine that commissioned me! I’m very pleased with the outcome of the shoot and the collaboration of all involved. The most amazing thing was that the Amazonian people weren’t really scared, but rather intrigued. There were many occasions where the natives would circle around me in complete awe while I set up for each shot. It was so interesting to see the genuine curiosity that they had. It was innocent in the way that they were learning something new just as I was learning from them as well. It was the epitome of the grand exchange of connection that we all have in humanity as a whole. This is what makes being a digital nomad so rewarding and enriching!

amazon housingNot only did I get a chance to interact with the Amazonian people and capture their tribes in all their glory, but I also got a chance to learn more about their culture and lifestyle. It’s one thing to learn these things from a tour guide, which I did at the beginning of the trip, but it takes the experience to a whole new level when you learn about the culture through the people themselves. It’s so raw! Additionally, its one thing to take pictures of the home and lifestyle of the people, but it’s another thing to actually engage in the lifestyle beyond what the image taken can portray. So this week, I want to give you a little taste of what I’ve learned upon living here among the people for the past several weeks.

Tribal Fusion

In the Amazon, the number of tribes is as vast as the rainforest itself! It is estimated that there over 400 indigenous tribes dwelling in the Amazon and most have been there for centuries. In addition to the massive number of natives thriving here, there are also over 150 different dialects that they speak. Astonishing! I was also told that some of the tribes, about 50 of them, are not familiar with the world outside of their rainforest home at all. They are completely authentic and true to their ancient roots. It’s almost as if their lineage and history has been beautifully preserved like the mist that lingers within the thick trees that make up their home! However, I felt truly honored to be in the presence of the tribe I was allowed to shoot and interact with.

The Amazonian Way

As diverse as their tribes and language is, you can only imagine that their culture is just as colorful. They believe in animism, which is the belief that all things, both living and nonliving are inhabited by the spirits of animals. It would make sense that their belief system is set up this way because the various wildlife that lives there is astronomical! There are over 2,000 species of mammals and birds, over 1500 species of breath-taking butterflies (I have the pictures to prove it) and a good portion of the plant life there is considered beneficial when applied medicinally. No wonder they have no need for the Western way of living!
The Amazonian people make a living for themselves by way of subsistence farming, extractivism, and fishing. If you’re wondering what extractivism is, it’s the term used to describe the art of harvesting the natural products made from the rainforest in a way that will always maintain sustenance for its people. No wonder they have no need for the Western way of living!

As my exotic trip to this beautiful land starts to come to an end, I want to also express my concern for the preservation of this amazing place. The Amazon is considered the lungs of the planet. However the native peoples are constantly threatened by external forces such as mining of their land, oil reserves, logging and other ways that seek to suck this land of its vitality. Getting to know the people here has really given me even more passion to find ways to help slow down the process of assimilation that is starting to make their ancient ways disappear day by day. I am truly going to miss this place!

5 Tips for the Lifestyle Photographer in You

amazon kayakIt’s another great afternoon in the Amazon and I have had such a productive day so far! Today was the first day of shooting for the cultural home and lifestyle magazine. I was able to travel to the part of the rainforest where the natives live and really get a feel for their culture and lifestyle. Back in the States, it’s amazing how we rely so much on the things we think we need on a daily basis. Sometimes we are so distracted with technology that we forget to take the time to really be present and in the moment with our environment, friends, family and even our own feelings. Interacting with some of the natives really helped to put things into perspective for me. They don’t have television to distract them from tending to their kids, nor do their kids have tons of video games to distract them from listening to their parents effectively. Within their villages, they truly act as a unit; helping one another to strengthen their communities as a whole. I’m able to enjoy all of this behind the scenes of my camera. One of the things I love about lifestyle photography is that I’m able to catch those candid moments without any prompts, scripts or direction. What the viewers are seeing in my pictures are the rawest expressions of our human experiences. Now even though lifestyle photography gives me a little more creative freedom than most photographers to shoot these moments, there is still a certain art to it that really helps things flow easily. Since I have a little break before getting started on my next shoot set, I thought I’d give you guys a few general tips on how to shoot lifestyle photography should you ever choose to delve into it.

Expect the Unexpected!

When it comes to lifestyle photography, you have to know what’s coming next. I know this may sound a little backwards being that this type of photography is all about the candid and priceless moments, but hear me out. In order to get your shutter to catch the moments at just the right times, you have to already be in place to anticipate the moment that will define the picture and help complete the story you’re trying to tell without words. It’s kind of like listening to a comedian build up to his punchline so that you can have that big hearty laugh you’ve been waiting to release.

Consider All Angles and Get Moving!

Remember, you are not always going to be bound by certain parameters. Depending on your setting, you can have anything from just a small living room to a huge backyard at your disposal so you want to make sure that you take full advantage of all the perspectives you can shoot from. Your camera should always be ready and mobile. Believe it or not, shooting from different angles will allow you to catch precious moments that you would have not been able to capture had you not changed positions!

It’s all in the Details!

Parrot detailsBeing a lifestyle photographer essentially indicates that you have a crazy super-ability to pay attention to detail. What is it about your subject or subjects that is the most captivating? What is drawing you in the most while you are carefully observing these irreplaceable snapshots in time? More than likely, bringing those mesmerizing details to the forefront will allow your viewers admiring your work to see the exact beauty that you saw as well.

There Will Be Tears

Although lifestyle photography consists of many pictures of smiles, laughter, family bonding, and other pleasant events, there are going to be moments where you will experience the complete opposite. However, don’t shy away from this! Life is comprised of a beautiful balance of both joy and sadness. If anything, you want to capture these moments to portray an even more raw feeling of the ebb and flow of life that we are all familiar with it.

And Not a Picture to be Wasted

In this genre, every shot has the potential to be gold! With more commercial shooting, you have to set up the shot to make sure you deliver exactly what is expected. If you miss the shot, those pictures are usually tossed first after they are uploaded for editing. With shooting lifestyle, the “oops!” moments just add on to the candid story that you’re trying to tell. It’s important to keep in mind that you’re not looking for perfection, but rather the imperfect moments that make it all worthwhile.

I could go on and on with a million tips that I have learned over the time I have been traveling the world shooting home and lifestyle but I would be writing a book! I wish I could stay and bring more tips, but it’s now time for me to get back to shooting the second set of my own lifestyle photos. In the meantime, check out these additional tips!

Visual Journeys in South American Culture

My time in the Amazon just became even more enriching! I’ve made good friends with a few of the tourists here. I just so happened to be talking to one of them about my love of art galleries and museums. With the location we’re in, you can imagine that it’s a little challenging to find one nearby. Lucky for me, my friend mentioned going on an excursion with some others to travel to the city of Brazil and visit some of the best art galleries that the area has to offer. Earlier this week, I had been having the urge to go to a gallery or museum as it felt as though I was a little overdue. With that said, I just couldn’t pass up the invitation to join them! So we traveled to the bustling city of Sao Paulo to see what beauty we would come across. Since I am just getting back from my journey there, I thought I would share with my readers some of the best museums and galleries to go to should you ever find yourself traveling to Brazil.

Museu de Arte De Sao Paulo

Also known as MASP, this Brazilian museum is the first one we ventured into upon arriving in Sao Paulo. From what I learned, MASP is one of the most influential and vital art museums in South America. It contains the most valuable and complete collections of over 8,000 works of art! Although I was intrigued by the many discoveries contained there, the one that really caught my eye and drew me in was the Brazilian printmaking exhibit. It’s amazing to see how these various talented artists perfected the distinctive technique of intricate engraving to deliver art that really reaches out to you in different dimensions.

Choque Cultural

Brazlian cushionsThis museum, which means Culture Shock, was the first gallery we discovered. Before we found the gallery, we kept seeing these elaborately vibrant murals that seemed to be painted on select buildings. We later found out that the street art was a small representation of the young art culture brewing just under the surface. I really enjoyed observing the work of Daniel Melim who had a comic-book style pieces that also carried a lot of free-thinking concepts. As I sat down to take in the entire exhibition that I was admiring, I found that fresh inspiration had even spilled into the cushions that secured my seat. They reminded me of an amazing Brazil-inspired collection of cushions I found at an online store called Simply Cushions who operate out of Australia

 

Casa Triangulo

After getting a taste of how the museums were in Sao Paulo, we decided to visit another gallery more on the edgy and contemporary side. This museum has been around for over 25 years and is an equally significant contribution to the visual arts as well. This gallery is well known for nurturing and merging the careers of numerous artists who have now made a name for themselves in the contemporary art industry. Casa Triangulo was also the forerunner in capitalizing on art fairs on a more global scale. One of the artists that I absolutely loved was Assume Vivid Astro Focus. Their use of geometric shapes, pulsating colors and transcendental atmospheres really seemed to transport me to another space in time that may have been happening all at once!

Galeria Fortes Vilaca

Last but not least, we visited another art gallery in Sao Paulo to end our visual expedition. Similar to Casa Triangulo, this museum features contemporary art that also supports the talent of Brazilian artists but on a higher international scale. Another one of their missions is to feature more artists from around the world. The number of exhibitions and artists they had was almost overwhelming to say the least!

Exploring the cities of Brazil was so invigorating! After we finished marvelling at museums and galleries, we grabbed some delicious Brazilian food for dinner while joining the dance and laughter sprinkled across the street. This region of the country is shaping up to be one of my favorites!

The Difference between Being a Lifestyle Photographer and a Photojournalist

I’m back again with more adventures of the Amazon to tell you about! I just woke up about an hour ago and had an amazing session of group meditation with some of the other tourists here. My first home and lifestyle shoot here last week was nothing short of incredible and I really got the chance to learn more about the Amazonian culture. My second commissioned shoot got pushed back to the afternoon due to the tropical heat index here. I’m so glad that I am a lover of the summer! While lying here in my hammock, I have been reflecting on some things when it comes to my job as a lifestyle photographer and wanted to clear up some questions that some of my readers may have. As you are already aware, there are plenty of photographers out there specializes in all kinds of things. The titles that they go by can range anywhere from the most simple and traditional to the most uniquely defined. One thing I do know is that when us photographers really specialize in something, we are gung-ho about it! So while I am relaxing with my hammock and mango slices, I want to shed some light on the difference between what I specialize in and what other photographers in a similar, but different genre specialize in.

Definition of a Lifestyle Photographer

John amosenoA lifestyle photographer specializes in the art of capturing uninterrupted moments in a creative way. They seize the moment and allow the events in front of them to unfold beautifully so that they can display a different story every time. Lifestyle photographers have the advantage of capturing people in their natural environments. Instead of worrying about setting up the shot or directing the individuals in the shot to act a certain way, a lifestyle photographer can shoot their clients while they do normal everyday things which adds to the main element of this genre. The simplest thing, such as a woman standing on a chair and adjusting her wall clock, has the potential to turn into an intriguing story. Speaking of wall clocks, I found an amazing collection of cool wall clocks on at this online store.

Because everyone has a different lifestyle, it really helps to diversify what the lifestyle photographer shoots and eventually what ends up in his portfolio. Take me for example. Although most of my work is based in the US and the UK, I still have opportunities to shoot lifestyles that are beyond the norm of traditional standards. Another element that defines a lifestyle photographer is the component of shooting the entirety of any and every emotion that decides to show up at any given time. It’s pretty common to assume that this particular genre only captures the happy times full of laughter and love, but it’s important to also be aware of the fact that there will be some shots captured that portray the darker side of life that can sometimes grip the viewer in an intense way. In a nutshell, a lifestyle photographer embraces the full spectrum of life.

Definition of a Photojournalist

A photojournalist ventures more into the current events that happen within society through the eyes of human experience. Although they can tell a compelling story similar to lifestyle photographers, they have a different angle to what they are trying to portray. The main element that they operate from is to make sure that the story they create through their images delivers and confirms facts. Like lifestyle photographers, a photojournalist also has the freedom of shooting events in their rawest forms, with no need to pretend or set up a shoot. Their angle, however, is unique in that one of their main focuses are on capturing the aspects of life that most may not be aware of, such as wars and desolate conditions. To take it even further, photojournalists are responsible for shooting facts in action so that the visual story they create helps the many readers and viewers connect with human experiences different from they’re own. Recently, this genre of photography has transcended its original role and has started to evolve into more multimedia and film mediums through the press and newspapers.

So there you have it folks! Although lifestyle and photojournalist photography can sometimes have a thin line of similar definition, both genres contribute to society in an incredible way. It’s now time for me to jump back on the horse and start to set up for the next lifestyle shoot session. I better move fast; the rain clouds are swiftly approaching!

Photographic Adventures

Photographic Hotel Adventures in the Amazon

Homes in the AmazonYou know, it blows my mind that so many people have yet to explore the world! There are so many people scared to take a leap and get out of their comfort zone for a little while. They are afraid of the unknown and what new experiences await them. I used to be one of those people until I started discovering my passion for photography. This is one of the reasons why I love what I do. Through the images that I capture, I’m thankful that I’m able to give others a little glimpse of what they’re missing! With just a click of the shutter, I’m able to let them peek into a part of the world that they may have always been curious about. I guess this unlimited fuel of purpose that I possess is what landed me in the elusive location of the Amazon where I’ve currently been residing for the last week or so. It is truly like paradise on Earth here! I’m staying at the Hotel Ariau Amazon Towers, which just happens to be one of the biggest treetop hotels worldwide! Yes, I said treetops! Imagine waking up in a tree to the sight of the sun beaming down on you through the tall, lush trees. The beautiful songs of exotic birds and other rainforest wonders is the blissful reality I get to awaken to.

I was commissioned here to take some beautiful images of the various natural homes here. This would be my most unique job yet, as the homes are actually in the Amazon rainforest! I am truly honored to be in this sacred place. Usually when I am shooting for home and lifestyle magazines, I am amongst lavish furnishings, contemporary styles and breath-taking appliances. This time around, the magazine I am shooting for is going for more of a culturally authentic lifestyle appeal. Since I still have a few days to really take in my environment before I officially start work, I want to take some time and tell you guys about the adventures I’ve already had while staying at this hotel.

My Lovely Abode

Upon arriving to my home for the next few weeks, I was already in awe at what my eyes were seeing. I think every adult at some point of their lives has always wondered what life would have been like if they actually finished making their childhood treehouse. I’m convinced that I’ve seen that vision now and my inner child is very content! I loved the aged wooden look my home gave me, as well as the tree itself to always keep me company. Before completely settling in, my tour guide gave me a rundown of everything that was available to me. My treetop home included a spacious deck with benches, chairs and even a table set. Inside of my home was a beautiful canopy bed with other much-needed furnishings. The view I had was simply unbelievable and I couldn’t help but turn my jungle residence into a private set for a mini-shoot. For once, I wanted to experience shooting my own home and lifestyle environment. The finished products were nothing short of amazing. I’m thinking to include my hotel room into my portfolio as samples for prospective clients who reside in these types of areas. I may be onto something!

Attractions Galore!

Now there are a lot of great features that Hotel Ariau provides that just makes my experience here that much more memorable. Being that my hotel room is always in the jungle, it’s very convenient for me to explore the world around me. The other day, I went on an Amazon rainforest excursion with a few other tourists and saw things I could only dream about! I really gave my camera a workout while I hiked and observed the various exotic animals. I also took a canoe ride and enjoyed a beautiful night show put on by the natives.

I am so excited to professionally seize the moment and capture the lifestyle of the people who live here. By now, I hoped I’ve challenged you to think about exploring the world and just immersing yourself in the environment. If you’re feeling daring, check out the website for the hotel I’m staying at. We were put here to live and experience, so have fun! I’m off to enjoy a nice feast of Brazilian cuisine. Live life to the fullest!