While my Grandmother, Mother and I were born in the Central Valley region of Oaxaca, our roots dig further back to the Mixtec region of Oaxaca as well its peoples. Like most children, I was never curious to know where my Great Grandparents were from or my family for that matter. As I’ve grown older however and accepted my own mortality, I’ve grown fond with the small towns of Oaxaca and the connections they have with my family and where we’re from, as well as my family history which I may not comprehensively be able document. Though we no longer have living relatives in San Pedro Tidaá, I was adamant on visiting the town during my visit in October of 2016 to gain further knowledge of where my family had its beginnings. After all its where my Great Grandparents were born, met, married and now their eternal resting place.

My Great Grandparents were minimalists at heart and of few words, born in the early 1900’s in the village of San Pedro Tidaá, a satellite that sits in the outskirts of Asunción Nochixtlán, about a two-hour drive north of the Oaxaca capital. Both spoke little Spanish on account of the Mixtec dialect being their native tongue, an ancient language that dates before the arrival of the Spanish Conquistadors to the New World. Atage fourteen he asked her parents for her hand in marriage, she was twelve. In the early 1920’s, they married on August 6thduring a patron saints day festival of the town. During their mid-twenties, the construction of a main highway connecting the capital of Oaxaca to Mexico City brought him to Oaxaca as a laborer. After the highway was complete, they picked up what little belongings they had along with their three children and moved to Oaxaca, they later had four additional children. During the Mexican Revolution, the Presidential Building (record building) of San Pedro Tidaá was burned down forcing them to pick up new birth certificates while in Oaxaca, unfortunately they sort of made a date of birth up and because of this, we never really knew how old they were upon their death.

I never got a chance properly get to know my Great Grandparents, an unfortunate side effect of living in a different country. After fifteen years however, I finally got to see them for the first time in the summer of 2007. It was here my Great Grandfather told tales of finding ancient artifacts in the ground during the yearly monsoon season. Showed me a boulder he found at the hill near the ancient city of Monte Alban, which produces a sound like that of a ringing bell when hit with a piece of the same boulder, I concluded it was a meteorite. Advised me to save and bury my money, which I have not done yet, but then again, he did live through the Mexican Revolution where it was common to bury your possessions. During my daily visits to their house, my Great Grandfather made sure I had a cup of coffee at the ready when I walked into the house, I picked up the morning coffee habit thereafter. My Great Grandmother on the other hand didn’t talk much on matters but did mention how Oaxaca has never changed since she moved there, which is why she never left house at her age and prayed for it not change after she’s gone. A little less than a year after this visit my Great Grandfather passed away in 2008 at what we believe was at age one hundred and three.

I took a day trip with my Mom, Grandmother and Great Aunt to San Pedro Tidaá during my visit in October of 2016, we left Oaxaca in the morning and arrived in Asunción Nochixtlán around mid-day. I treated myself to some consommé and a pound of barbacoa at the local Mercado and shopped around for the elusive Aguardiente, while my Great Aunt picked up a few things to cook once we got to her property in San Pedro Tidaá. There’s no reliable public transit from Nochixtlán to Tidaá, however, with her ever-impressive negotiation skills my Grandmother tric…. convinced, a local taxi driver to take us out there and pick us up in the afternoon. Mind you, it’s close to an hour each way. Upon arriving we first stopped at the cemetery were my Great Grandfather is buried to pay our respects and decorate the grave site with marigold flowers (Flor de Muerto). My Great Aunt placed marigolds on the grave sites of our distant relatives as well, though I couldn’t tell, as Mother Nature had wiped the names off the grave stones. What took me by surprised was the way people are buried here. Men are buried on the north side of the cemetery, while the women are buried on the south. I asked why but got the usual “that’s just how things are done around here” answer. We didn’t spend much time in the village as there isn’t much to see or do outside of a patron saints day festival. I was on the phone with my Grandmother for a couple hours asking her questions for this blog post, it turned out the church where my Great Grandparents were married is still standing, which I will pay my visit sometime next year. My Great Grandfather was the bell ringer for this church in his youth, and the very bells he’d ring collapsed during an earthquake, but I was told these bells currently sit at the foot of the church. 

My Great Grandmother, the Matriarch of my family passed away in the landing months of 2017 at the age of a hundred, this was after my last visit to Oaxaca that year. With her went the ancient language of the Mixtec peoples as she was the last native speaker in our family. My Grandmother understands the language though not to the full extent as her eldest siblings who picked up the language sufficiently enough to speak it. However, I believe my Great Grandmother’s legacy will live on forever through her food, as she taught my Grandmother how to cook, who in turn taught my Mom, who then taught me the pre-Hispanic dishes of the family at an early age. I have done my best to carry on her legacy with my versions of these dishes when I cook for my friends. As I believe the best way to continue, appreciate and showcase my family’s culture and heritage, is through the food that has been passed down to me by the women of my family. 

My Great Grandparents lived through every major event of the 20th century, and were both superstitious and believed cameras to be soul thieves, so they didn’t appreciate their photo taken while I was around them during the summer of 2007, even if I asked kindly for a portrait. To my surprise on my last visit to their house while I was walking out after my goodbyes to them, my Great Grandfather stopped me in my tracks and asked to have his photo taken together with my Great Grandmother. He picked up his best dress shirt and hat, and she picked up her best shall, and both stood elegantly for the camera as if they somehow knew, this would be the last time I would see them both together.



You have gone through heavy facelifts since I’ve met you those many years ago when I left my home in 1993. I remember spending my weekends on Broadway blvd. with my parents walking up and down the street stopping at each swap meet you once had, where I discovered my short-lived fascination for magic tricks from a magic shop that has now been replaced by an organic, farm-to-table something. One day those many years ago, my Dad bought a stereo off a guy on the street and when we got home to open the box, were met with a cinder block instead of the high-end stereo he purchased. On my seventh birthday my Mom took me to the Chuck E. Cheese knock-off you had on 3rdSt., it’s now a cell phone store and it breaks my heart every time I see it now.

I protested the changes you started going through in 2005 and against my best judgment, I moved in a beautiful building with my then ex-wife in 2007, though your parking sucked ass. I had my car broken into twice while parked on your streets, even got my car towed once and was billed $90 per hour for it.

I celebrated my 21st birthday with you and married my then girlfriend with you by my side. In recent years I’ve managed businesses along your dingy streets, waited for the bus late into the night, watched people eat fancy dinners while I walked hungry in the rain, got a $350 jaywalking ticket, walked through streets filled with urine and poop and sadly, grew a sour, loathing taste for you. But now that I live around you, I’m beginning to see why I fell in love with you those many years ago when I moved from Oaxaca and called you my new home. Unfortunately, I can longer afford what you ask for rent, but I much rather see you from a distance where I live now; and I have to say you’re looking as beautiful as ever. I never thought I could miss anything as dearly as much as you, but I believe I’m going miss you when I move back to Mexico in a few years, though I’ll never forget what you provided for me while I lived with you.

Downtown L.A., how I wish you were a real person even for a single second, just to tell you how much, I love you. 


My self-discovery and love affair for Mezcal began in 2017 during an excursion to the outskirt desert towns in Oaxaca. Halfway through the trip, the Mercedes-Benz minibus made an hour pit stop at El Rey De Matatlán. A small, but productive Mezcal Palenque (distillery) that rests by the roadside of the main highway towards the community of Teotitlan del Valle. It was at this distillery I kissed Mezcal for the first time, was taught how to identify genuine Mezcal and learned of the variations of Agave and Mezcales. As my knowledge of Mezcal grows, so does my pride as a native of Oaxaca almost as if Mezcal runs through my veins as it does with the Maestros and Maestras of Mezcal (Master Mezcal Distillers). As stated in my first Mezcal journal entry, it’s near next impossible to know everything about Mezcal. New information of its origin is always brought to light, new stories of the Mezcal Masters in the field are told and new Mezcal labels are introduced into the market as the popularity of this spirit grows in the cocktail communities. For your consideration I’ve compiled a list of a handful of my favorite Mezcal labels in hopes you’ll try them and by doing so, help support our local Mezcal producers back in Oaxaca. To be clear, this list is by no means exhaustive or definitive. 


Mezcal Los Amantes Oaxaca

My initial curiosity for Mezcal was sparked while watching an episode of Munchies, Guide To Oaxaca, where the host makes a stop at Mezcaleria Los Amantes in the heart of downtown Oaxaca. After watching, I made it my mission to not only visit this bar but learn as much as I could about Mezcal while visiting Oaxaca in October of 2017. Mezcaleria Los Amantes is small artisanal distillery in the town of Tlacolula, while its bar sits in downtown Oaxaca, a stone’s throw from Santo Domingo. The bar is small, sensually lit and walking in is like walking into a shrine for Mezcal with knowledgeable bartenders. The Mezcal to kiss here is the young Espadín Mezcal. This Mezcal in particular has been the most refreshing one I’ve tried, it has identifiable fruit tones and a mildly smoky after note with a sweet, citrus flavor end with a slight herbaceous mid note. The aroma of this Mezcal is refreshing and humid almost as if you’re right under a waterfall. A perfect introduction to Mezcal for those not familiar with this spirit.
- Website: | Instagram: @losamantesmx

Mezcal Cuish Berta Vasquez Oaxaca

During Mexico’s prohibition era in the 1920’s, women played a significant role in the history of Mezcal and up until the 1970’s, women primarily sold Mezcal in bulk, door-to-door in neighboring communities of Oaxaca and Maestra Mezcaleras (women Mezcal distillers) were unheard of. Similar to cooking, the feelings and emotions of the Maestro or Maestra are unconsciously infused into the Mezcal during its production. If the they were happy or of sweet nature, the Mezcal will be sweet however, should they have strong tempers, the Mezcal will have a dry, punchier aroma. One Mezcal the emphasizes this theory is that of Maestra Mezcalera Berta Vásquez. Specifically, the wild Tobalá Agave Mezcal which is exclusively distilled for Mezcal Cuish. It’s earthy, herbaceous, exceptionally smoky and slightly humid and produced in the mountainous region of San Baltazar Chichicapam. An absolute rarity even for Oaxaca, as this 50% Mezcal to my knowledge, is only produced for Mezcal Cuish. Mezcal Cuish doesn’t produce its own Mezcal rather, it sources Mezcal of the highest caliber from within the Mezcal regions of Oaxaca. Their commitment to support our Maestros and Maestras sparked a heavy interest in me to move back to Oaxaca promote and possibly work for this brand exclusively. If you’re unfamiliar with Mezcal I do not recommend this Tobalá Mezcal due to its high alcohol content and strong smoky aroma; prior experience with the Espadínes is highly recommended. At this time of this writing, this label of Mezcal is not available anywhere in the States.
- Website: | Instagram: @mezcalescuish

Mezcal Mezcaloteca Oaxaca

On the backside of Santo Domingo sits one the best old world Mezcal bars you’ll find in the city of Oaxaca, Mezcaloteca. I took a Mezcal tasting crash course here and was lucky to have co-owner Silvia as my bartender and taught me how to identify genuine Mezcal and instantly fell head over heels for this label, its culture and of course the bar itself, which is sensually lit and perfectly decorated to the aforementioned old world feel. Silvia is a living, breathing Mezcal encyclopedia, patient and insanely knowledgeable with all things Mezcal in fact, 90% of what I know of Mezcal I learned from her. Mezcaloteca is unique in that they have Mezcales from various regions of the Republic with an emphasis on the Maestros that produce each one. Naturally, the ones from Oaxaca were my favorites during the tasting. Mezcaloteca’s Mezcales are sweet and delectably smoky with strong earthy end notes, ranging from 45% to 60% proof, whilst managing to go down smoothly due to their strict artisanal cultivation, distillation and fermentation processes. The Mezcal that stood out from the rest were those made from Karwinskii Agaves, better known as Cuixe. Mezcaloteca’s Mezcales are rare in the States but do offer an export label, Mezcalosfera.  
 - Reservations: | Instagram: @mezcaloteca

Mezcal Meteoro It Fell From The Sky

During my half year stay in Oaxaca in late 2016 to early 2017 I searched all over the city to find the best possible Mezcal I could find. Some I found through word of mouth while others I found through Instagram searches, one being Mezcal Meteoro. Surprisingly I couldn’t find this Mezcal anywhere in Oaxaca, even though it’s distilled here. After a little digging I found it at La Europa, a high-end liquor shop on the ritzier side of Tijuana. Mezcal Meteoro can be described as a dry, slightly spicy Mezcal, with a strong earthy aroma, leaving no mid or after note to lust after, giving you a warm happy feeling after each kiss of this rather rare Mezcal. I recommend this Mezcal for a cold day and definitely worth the trouble of finding it, both for its uplifting characteristics and bottle aesthetics. As far as I know this label does not have a Mezcaleria anywhere within the Mexican Republic, which is probably why I had a hard time finding it. The tag line "it fell from the sky," perfectly describes the rarity of this Mezcal.
- Website: | Instagram: @mezcalmeteoro

Mezcal Marca Negra Espadín

The quintessential beauty of Mezcal is how no two are ever alike, even those of the same label. As the aromas and flavors of each Mezcal is unique because of the region in which it’s produced, the water used to ferment, and the techniques used by each Maestro or Maestra when producing Mezcal. These and other factors contribute to the unique characteristics of every batch of Mezcal. Though aromas and flavors will be for the most part, consistent within each label, each bottle will have its own life and characteristics due to its artisanal process. The Espadín Mezcal Marca Negra distilled in San Juan Del Rio, by maestro Mezcalero Isaías Martínez Juan, has a strong identifiable fruit tone and a very humid aroma, think cave under a waterfall, similar to Los Amantes but with a much stronger aroma. Marca Negra’s Espadín Mezcal has a sweet, citrus flavor ending with a herbaceous note. As with any Mezcal, Marca Negra is not a common spirit found in the States. 
- Website: | Instagram: @mezcalmarcanegra


The aroma of this Mezcal is similar to being under a waterfall or near a rushing river. On par with taste it’s very refreshing, goes down smoothly and has a slight herbaceous end note. My grandfather has been buying this Mezcal for decades from a man known as Don Ren. Don Rene does it old school as he personally picks up the Mezcal from San Baltazar Chichicapam, a town in the southern sierra region of Oaxaca, and sells it by the liter to those whom have purchased from him before. I was fortunate to have sit down with Don Rene and talk Mezcal when he delivered a five-liter tank to my Grandparents house while I was there on vacation. By far this is the most prized Mezcal in my collection, but I think it’s due to the sentimental value it has with my Grandfather. As you’ve guessed, there is no label for this Mezcal, hence no official bottle. I did however go on a hunt for a bottle worthy of this Mezcal and thanks to one of Instagram fans,  I found this gorgeous bottle in a local shop/art gallery that sells artisan wares and products from local Oaxacan artists.
- Get the bottle here | Instagram: @tiendaq


My Grandfather calls it Holy Water and the folk in the rural, hidden town of Eloxochitlán in the region of Papaloapan (northern most point of Oaxaca) go as far as calling it a gift from the Gods themselves. This rare spirit known as Aguardiente, is only distilled locally in micro batches and almost illicitly by a selected few. To be clear, this spirit known as Aguardiente is not a Mezcal and though both spirts parallel each other with the distillation & fermentation processes, they each share a class of their own. Aguardiente is more compared to a rum, as it’s distilled from sugar cane and to my knowledge not commercially produced and acquiring a few liters of this spirit demands a two-day journey outside of the capital. Describing the smoky, delectably sweet aroma of this spirit is complicated, the smell almost burns your nostril cold. Each kiss gives you one hell of a punch on the face, burns your throat for a few seconds, then leaves a very sweet after note. I picked up a few liters of this Aguardiente from a tailor after my Grandmother asked a shop keeper if she’d kindly guide us to an Aguardiente vendor. The tailor shop was lit by outside light, it was dusty and unorganized but felt cool and fresh compared to the outside hot, humid weather. Then I saw it, the massive teal glass jug filled with Aguardiente. The tailor was a very knowledgeable old timer and after a customary shot of Aguardiente, he siphoned a few liters into two three-liter Coke bottles. 
- Get the bottle here | Instagram: @tiendaq

Mezcal Bosscal Joven Cenizo Durango

As a Sagittarius and in my early twenties during the ‘finding yourself phase,’ I came across the Chinese Zodiac and found I was born a Fire Rabbit. The further I studied, the further I agreed with the views of this philosophy, because it accurately described who I am and have since had a deep respect for the rabbit thereafter. It was then no surprise I immediately gravitated towards Mezcal Bosscal during my Mezcal research last year, you guessed it, because of its rabbit logo. Mezcal Bosscal is a micro Vinata (palenque/distillery) from Durango, Mexico, with a beautiful philosophy towards its elaboration and use of a rabbit as their logo, paying patronage to the land, their ancestry and the moon. Their Mezcal is distilled from the wild Cenizo Durangensis Agave, producing a Mezcal with a strong smoky aroma, a slight earthy flavor and a balanced after note. I don’t know what it is about this Mezcal and its sister Damiana, but they tend arouse your sexual desires after a few kisses. From what I understand, the locals consider both of these Mezcales as aphrodisiacs. Open a bottle of Bosscal Mezcal next time you’re alone with your lover and love as rabbits do. 
- Website: | Instagram: @mezcalbosscal


About an hour’s drive north on bus from the capital of Oaxaca sits the birthplace of Quesillo, or Queso Oaxaca as it’s better known to those outside of our communities. It is believed the ancient ruins of San José el Mogote in Etla was once the capital of the Zapotec people as far back as 1500 B.C. and abandoned around 400 B.C. as Monte Álban soon became the new capital of the ancient peoples. Now according to Wikipedia, San José Mogote is considered to be the oldest permanent agricultural villages in the central valley of Oaxaca and probably the first settlement in the area to use pottery. It produced Mexico’s oldest known defensive palisades and ceremonial buildings around 1300 B.C., was an early adopter of adobe around 850 B.C., has the first evidence of Zapotec hieroglyphic writing within 600 B.C., and evidence of early examples of architectural terracing, craft specialization, and irrigation, 1150-850 B.C. Now keep in mind I have never been to this archeological site, so I’ll elaborate on the topic after I visit.

The municipality of Etla plays an important role in the Hollywood classic Nacho Libre. Filmed mostly in the chapel of Las Peñitas standing on top of a rocky hill overlooking the valley. For those of the Roman Catholic faith, it is believed that God himself took rest here while He created Earth. Leaving a footprint behind when He sat here to rest when the Earth was all but clay. If you visit, you’ll find this fabled footprint inside an enclosed area at the foothill of the chapel. I suggest you visit with your faith in heart. I’ve only had the pleasure of visiting twice, the first being when I was in my late teens with not much faith in my heart and the second in my late twenties with my faith fully restored. I make an emphasis on faith because inside the rock formation where the footprint of God has formed, you’ll find a small hole within the rocks and if you’re One of faith, you’ll see the image of Christ glowing in a blue flame inside it. Similar to the flame that Moses saw those many years ago before his return to Egypt. Visiting this site with faith was advice I took from the caretaker I met on my second visit and have held to those words since. Surprisingly both my Mom and Cousin did not see Christ’s image while both my Grandmother and I did. 

If you arrive to Villa de Etla by public transit be aware there’s no public transit from the town square to Las Peñitas. Although a local Moto Taxi will happily give you a lift to and back if you’re not in the mood for a hike. Just let your Moto Taxi driver know what time you’d like them to come back for you. 



Roughly six miles south of the capital of Oaxaca sits the small town of Cuilápam de Guerrero with a sinister tale of the macabre. If arriving by public transit, the bus taking you to Villa de Zaachila makes a route stop in front of the former monastery of Santiago Apóstol or better known as the Basilica of Cuilápam by locals. What’s striking of this temple at mere glance is its incomplete state, the missing roof of the cathedral casts an ominous aura as you walk through its incomplete pillars. Construction of the temple began in 1556 with Antonio De Barbosa as chief architect and used a mix of architectural styles that were predominant in Europe throughout the 16th century. Construction suddenly halted around 1570 for unknown reasons, though official records state it was due to financial disputes on who would bear the cost of the project between the Crown of Spain and the [Hernán] Cortés family. Over the centuries local towns folk have contrived a more supernatural version of events that to this day, have been the canon of events that occurred as to explain why this church was never completed. 

❡ For several nights the convent of Cuilápam was met by a presence of a dark shadow that only met with the Prior General, Domingo de Aguiñaga late into the night hours. This shadow person wore black silky robes matching the black of the dark sky itself and arrive in a luxurious, aristocratic wagon coach pulled by two Friesian black horses. One morning, the Prior asked the Friars to no exit the dormitories the following night, as something strange and otherworldly would take place outside their very doors. As promised by the Prior, dark shadows moved around the convent passed midnight and among these shadows, the same dark presence that met with the Prior could be seen hovering throughout the makeshift construction site. 

The shadows began mixing concrete, raised pillars, walls and arches with remarkable speed and efficiency. These shadows began building the holy temple commissioned by the Crown of Spain that was promised to the clergy of the region. As they finished the central dome of the temple just before dawn, a rooster was heard crowing nearby. Construction stopped immediately, and the shadows disappeared leaving the temple unfinished. Years later on his deathbed the Prior General confessed that the dark presence was the Devil himself and offered to construct the temple in a single night, before the crowing of a rooster at dawn in exchange for the souls of the congregation. ❡ It’s told Domingo de Aguiñaga never meant to keep his end of the deal and set a trap to make the rooster crow before dawn to allow the Devil to build most of the church and not take the souls of the congregation with him. It is also said that the head of the murdered Zapotec Princess Donají is buried underneath this unfinished church. 


In the Spring of 1927 a young photographer but experienced climber, trekked deep into snowbound Yosemite National Park in California. But his hike didn’t go according to plan with the light about to die and just two glass plates left for his 4x5 view camera. Under pressure, he created what many consider one of the greatest masterpieces of American or any other landscape art, Monolith, The Face of Half Dome. Ansel Adams captured the great mountain in dramatic light and would change how Americans saw their country. When Adams came on this scene, it was an epiphany. It was like falling in love, but more importantly, he became not just Yosemite’s photographer, but its great artist, the high priest of its temple, of its stone, its light, its water. What he created in those landscape altarpieces, was an America irradiated with luminous majesty, taller than the highest skyscraper, more powerful than the mightiest business corporation, and he wanted Yosemite to be for everyone, as this is our land. By the 1950’s Ansel Adams’ photographs had become the iconic images of the American west.  

Starting in the 1920’s, Ansel Adams pioneered an approach that insisted photography was not simply a mechanical process, but a true art form. His method was to work backwards from the image he’d visualized then anticipate the moment when the light and subject could be seen at their most illuminating and then, with the press of the button, realize that vision. In 1960, the year John F. Kennedy became president calling for a new frontier, Adams published a book, This is the American Earth. It became an instant bestseller. More and more Adams’ photographs became preachy, but those visual sermons were radiant, mystical, ecstatic. They’re passionate statements of how humanity could be redeemed through the encounter with nature. He became a kind of patriarch of environmentalism, and every so often he’d put the camera down and even go away from his beloved Yosemite to try and persuade this or that president to his point of view, but throughout, he remained steadfast to his belief that his job in life was to give visual form to that silken cord tying together the fate of man with the fate of the Earth. 

It was the moment for some, when the photographer became a prophet. In 1977, when the Voyager spacecrafts were launched with a golden record containing images and sounds of Earth and its inhabitants, Adams’ images were among them. My photographs of Yosemite will never come close to those of Adams, considering he carried a 4x5 camera and tripod up there and I a modest, lightweight Nikon F3. After a two-hour hike in the middle of the rain and snow, I laid eyes on Half Dome. I cried. As I stood watching, I thought how this massive rock will be the most majestic thing I will ever see. I marveled at how many more millions have seen it, how many photographs have been taken, and how long Half Dome will it stand long after we’re gone. 

“We all move on the fringes of eternity and are sometimes granted vistas through the fabric of illusion.” – Ansel Adams 


I find it comical that the very people who paint themselves as inclusive and a supporter of (insert your cause here) tend to be the biggest jerks out there. They virtual signal you, bash your work, then turn around and hold prestigious gallery openings in the ritzier parts of town spatting they’re with you and your struggles as an (insert “oppressed” group here). Heartbreaking when I hear the very people talk down on photographers who are just starting out or aren’t in the same pedestal they believe to be sitting on. Perhaps it’s because academia tells them that those who don’t have the same education as they do, don’t fit the mold and are therefore inferior artists. While your own photos could be considered bad to these people, bear in mind photography as an art form is a subjective one. As artists we mustn't discourage others who have yet to find their why, their voice, the message and story they want to tell through their art.

At any level in our career, I believe we have a moral obligation to reach out and help our fellow photographers and not see them as the competition. Considering academia perpetuates the snobby attitude attributed with the fine arts, we must support each other however small the gesture. Photography has a multitude of genres some of which I don’t fully understand however, we can agree when we see beautiful work created by beautiful people. We have the freedom to express our opinions through our art, through our photography, even form opinions as to why we don’t like certain art forms. I believe if you form an unpopular opinion, say it out loud, but don’t be quick to judge if you don’t immediately understand what you’re seeing. Always state why.

Then there are the gear snobs. I believe it doesn't matter which medium you choose to take photos with; be it film, digital, SLR or mirrorless because labels are for cameras, not people. Let us appreciate photography for what it is, a way for us to connect with strangers, to build bonds with our friends, to have people fall in love with themselves in our photos, to capture moments that slip through our very hands. If you’re a new photographer, use the camera you’re comfortable with. Don’t listen to people who act like children and talk down on your gear. If they don't like it, have them buy you a new camera, simple as that. No one obsesses over the tools people use to make our food, so why do we obsess over the tools photographers use? Your camera should be and is an extension of you. Your camera is simply a precision tool. I’ve learned over the years that simplicity is key, the less is more approach. A one lens, one camera, one film stock combination is all you need to be a master of your craft. Someone once said, “to be a master do the same thing a thousand times, not a thousand things one time.” Learn to hone the tools you have on hand; you’ll be surprised that as you grow as an artist so will your tools.

No, you will not be an overnight success, but don’t let that stop you when they tell you no. Keep pushing because you don’t know what’s around the corner. Stick to your guns and make a correction when it feels right to do so. Yes, this is an industry that requires a ton of hard work with very little pay off for a long time, you’ll even see others reach overnight success the second they step in. So do your best to guard your heart against jealousy and find a way to find joy in peoples success while you continue to push yourself forward. If you learn to keep it simple, support local businesses that help your work shine, as well as other artists and vendors within your respective community and continue to purchase American made products like Kodak film and Tap & Dye leather wrist straps, together we will keep our love for film alive for years to come.