23 January 2021

Three Years in the Making and New Priorities


Vincinguerra Glacier hike, Ushuaia, Argentina November 2019

You can never ever... like EVER really know how things are going to conclusively work out. Try as you might, the world around you could give two cents about you and your "plans". Eighteen months is what I had imagined this trip taking me. All I wanted to do was tour Central and South America. But the question popped into my head... why stop there, at the end of Argentina? I had no good answer, but more than a hundred reasons to keep going. But you've probably heard this story. So instead of looking back, this time... let's look ahead!

In my last blog post, I asked the question, "What Are You Going to Do Now?", given the nature of all the changes that... essentially, the world... has been subjected to. It's a valid question! Some of you already know. You've adapted already or your current situation is built/designed already to handle these hectic times. If your business or job was predicated on working from home, count your blessings. If your business is 100% travel related, you'd better do something. 

Vincinguerra Glacier hike, Ushuaia, Argentina November 2019

As we move forward, we hear terms like "the new normal", suggesting that life as we know it has died and will forever be relegated to talk in the taverns of how we USED to do things. Sort of how we maybe discuss today of life before the internet, emails, and iPhones. Personally, I do think things will return to pre-2020, just as life did after the last severe global pandemic in 1918. It may take all of 2021 or even into next year before we see Covid-19 as a thing of the past. We'll learn from it. New regulations and oversight will emerge on how we travel. Those are the things we'll have to get used to. Just like 9/11, we got used to taking our shoes and belts off for airport security. We expect to do that now, but we still travel.

But we have to make it to that point of "normality" again. (Side note: I hate that word.) And that brings me back to that last post question. What are you going to do now? Looking ahead, I can say that I am grateful to be where I am. It wasn't by design, I can assure you. I don't take credit for riding out this pandemic in Vietnam, one of the safest places to be in the world. I'm here and it helps being in a place where living expenditures are a quarter of that in the US. I know what you're saying. My mission is to backpack around the world! I get that. Reread the opening paragraph. CHANGE! Priority number one for me is to make my opportunities here. I'm looking into endeavors that will allow me to stay a couple years here. Yuuup... YEARS. Plural. 

I can't see "normalcy" in 2021. And I don't like the idea of basing my life on waiting for it. So I will make my opportunities, seek my happiness, and do what I think is right for me based out of where I am, right here in Hanoi, Vietnam. Hanoi has a sort of hold on me. When I thought about leaving, something seemed to always snatch me back. I'm not talking about fear of the unknown. No, I've returned for practical reasons. The people, the places, the city itself. I'm gradually understanding it. Ergo, I may as well get comfortable, stable, and start finding my opportunities here. 

Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse, built in 1920

I was all set to begin launching Wide World Terrell, a new content platform that would concentrate more on travel and ACCENTED with photography. It's still in development, but I'm holding on to it right now. Wide World is suspended until further notice and it's just going to be Wide Hanoi or Wide Vietnam, at most. Maybe I will introduce you to a black man's musings in the most promising locales in Southeast Asia. The important part for me right now, is that I'm committed to being here, as opposed to moving anywhere else. 

Next on agenda is getting my body right. I did not blog between November 20, 2019 and January 20, 2020. I did not cover any of my time in Argentina. Apologies. I spent the majority of October and November in Ushuaia, Argentina. I had a beautiful experience there and got some great photos. I'm going to talk about it more in the next or a future blog post. However, one particular event almost changed the course of all my travel plans. Towards the end of my trip, I chose to hike the Vinciguerra Glacier, right there on the outskirts, north of Ushuaia. I took a chance. Got some great shots, THOROUGHLY enjoyed the experience! BUT... man I ripped up my knee on the way down.

I am not really sure how much I've talked about my military injuries on this blog. Usually, I don't want to bring up those kind of personal hardships, but I think I will in the future. Maybe they can be helpful to someone. But I went home to the US for the holidays, not knowing if I would leave again anytime soon, have to get surgery, or what. I had moved from the VA hospital in Nevada to the one in Texas and getting set up in a new spot was not anything that was going to happen quick. 

Snow storm in Ushuaia, a few days after arrival. No Black and White conversion here. 

Instead, I found that I was able to walk around casually and decided that I would take a chance to travel. My strategy was to just be careful and see how I could heal on my own. Maybe come back in two years to repair it. Yeah... then Covid came. I was good for a while, but dagnabit... things changed about two months ago, where I began having problems again. So I have to make some lifestyle changes. I sort of need this knee! So I'm going to do some conditioning on my own, first. And then as I get stabilized in Vietnam, I'm going to seek care outside the VA and get medical advice here. 

So that's the plan. Get comfortable in Vietnam. Generate new opportunities. Get healthy! I'll talk about Argentina maybe next time, but meanwhile, enjoy the pics. 

11 January 2021

What Are You Going to Do Now?

My Excellent Panda, Copyright 2013 Terrell Neasley

 “Our human compassion binds us the one to the other – not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.” 
– Nelson Mandela

With respect to photography... Nudes, Travel, and Change seem to be ongoing themes in my blog posts. Nudes and travel are what this blog are all about. However, the element of change works it's way in there like mortar between bricks. Change is what makes the Nude and Travel bricks in photography either stronger or weaker. Right now, I don't get to shoot nudes that much. The change in the travel industry has lessened my ability to travel. But it may be something different for you if you shoot wildlife or sports, for instance. Regardless of the genre, change will help you grow in your chosen field or it will make you quit it.

Change is not all bad. We dislike it because it robs us of options and choices. It takes away the comfortable and familiar and replaces it with "different". It can be inconvenient or it can be insurmountable and thus forces us to adjust or choose to do something else. Regardless, we are left with something unfamiliar to what we are accustomed to and no longer have the ease of routine and familiarity that we used to.

Twenty Twenty-One is upon us and brings with it Winds of Change more than any other year since any of us have been alive. Americans will soon have a new resident of the White House and if the recent course of events tell us anything, challenges indeed lay ahead. There is a vaccine for Covid-19 now, but travel still remains an interrupted and unpredictable affair. Therefore, the question I am asking is, what are you going to do now?

My Excellent Panda, Copyright 2013 Terrell Neasley

I'm not just asking rhetorically. I'm interested in knowing YOUR plans. Maybe you can impart some wisdom to me. As for me? Umm... well, I wanna continue to remain in Vietnam and work on some personal development. Taking lots of pics goes without saying. I still need to find my epic shot here. But yeah, hopefully I can get some stability. I'd like to remain for another two years and really search this place out in more depth both photographically and understanding the culture. If I get residency, I'll take some classes to learn Vietnamese. 

How do you carry on with your photographic career? Will you find something else to do for a while? Has this pandemic affected your ability to shoot, (whether you earn a living at it or not)? I know I have lots to figure out. Photo sales for me have been non-existent for a year almost. I read a recent blog post of another travel blogger whose entire income is derived from booking his guided travel tours. There are none for him right now. So what happens if the travel industry doesn't pick up this year? I wonder. He's not the only one in this predicament. How does the industry shift to something more survivable? Or hold out until it is better? 

My Excellent Panda, Copyright 2013 Terrell Neasley

It's my hope that none of us put down the camera. I pray we keep shooting. Make money at it or not, I don't think we can afford to forget the pure joy of photography. Maybe we are not selling or printing much. Maybe we aren't getting the gigs. But I think there are still things to do. I got a cousin who's on a rampage right now in Texas as she's BUILDING and becoming stronger in her photo game. That tells me there are still opportunities. But don't go flooding Texas. Be worth your salt and find those opportunities where you are. Money or no. 

Now is definitely a good time to advance your skills. Take online courses. Improve your lighting ability. If there is ONE area of photography that I KNOW people consistently neglect, it is LIGHTING! Don't give me that natural light shooter BS. I've been around long enough to know most people fear flash or think it's too complicated and expensive. EVEN if that were the case, I've still seen people misuse natural lighting. Sometimes they don't take advantage of using it at the right time or they don't know how to block or bounce light with flags or reflectors. Natural light shooters should know a little something about light direction, intensity, and color. Is the light hard or soft? How can you use shadows? Are the highlights too strong? See, it's more than just cameras and lenses and shooting while the sun is up.

There's lots to learn for everyone. I still feel so dumb about a lot of things. I hope 2021 brings a new hope for all of us. 

My Excellent Panda, Copyright 2013 Terrell Neasley