Part One – Becoming An Explorer
My whole career has been devoted to chasing distant shores and exploring the most remote corners of the globe. There’s something about those far away places that haven’t been explored or experienced, something about how the same ocean that I see from home stretches to these other unknown places. I’ve been fortunate to see my dreams fulfilled, but life didn’t start out that way.
Growing up, all I knew was what was close to my house. For me, distant shores just meant whatever stretch lay around the next bend of the California coast. And that was enough to entice me to get out and explore. As a kid I was intrigued by the small things. That was what really moved me.
I grew up on the central coast, so some of my primary adventures were to nearby national parks. We would pile in the car and head a few hours to Yosemite or Big Sur for a family campout or hike. I remember being about 10 years old and my grandpa taking me to Yellowstone. At the time I didn’t fully appreciate it. I remember thinking, “Yeah, I’ll sit in the back and eat candy.”
But those trips became something that really defined me. Those experiences always stuck with me because I didn’t have to go far off the road to be deep in nature. Some of my greatest adventures were 15 or 20 minutes off the road. All it took was exploring–really looking around me to see things that I would normally have just taken for granted. And this type of exploring is available to everyone everywhere. I witnessed a lot of beauty around me, and knew there was more out there. The trick then became, how was I going to keep exploring?
When I was 19, I had a job at a little magazine kiosk. I would flip through books and surf magazines all day, daydreaming of setting foot on in those far away lands and hear the sound of those distant crashing waves. I thought that surrounding myself with photographs of wild places would help me make it a priority to get there. But no matter how hard I thought I wanted to see the world, the reality was I had never left the country or even owned a passport. Ultimately I realized that job was just a form of torture and flipping pages wasn’t bringing me any closer to any of those places.
So I quit my job. Intrigued by being out at sunrise and out at sunset, I spent my time capturing beautiful moments with a camera. I then spent time interning to pursue landscape photography. I developed a passion for landscapes and especially night photography. But landscapes alone were very competitive and hard to be recognized. So I decided to combine it with something I knew. I began to bring surfing and landscapes together, and determined that was where I would start my niche.
One trip that stands out in my mind was my first adventure overseas to Dubai. My parents were nervous. But it was the trip I had to do for me. And I’m glad I did. Being able to see different cultures, the way they interact, the way they care for each other and how compassionate they were to me as a traveler in need… that’s what it was all about. There was something about being in a place so different than what I was used to that made me look at my life and identify the things that I needed. Being in the previously unknown helped me realize unknown things about myself. In fact, it was after that trip that I came home and asked my beautiful wife to marry me. We’ve been married ever since and now have two beautiful sons, who I hope become explorers themselves someday.