Haitian Girl, Dominican Republic
This is the best portrait I've ever taken, and easily my favorite image of my career. I shot this a few years ago in the Dominican Republic at a small school for Haitian orphans. Unfortunately, just like how orphans are marginalized in a lot of societies around the world, this school was no exception. I'm not sure what ever happened to this young woman and hope to find her again someday. She was 11 years old at the time and wanted to be a school teacher.
Asian Drag Queen at Copenhagen Pride, Denmark
It’s an unfortunate truth that many young African-American men are raised to be homophobic, myself included. My entire life, I was told that homosexuality was wrong. While serving in the military, my brothers and sisters in arms had to hide their sexuality (before Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was repealed). But my travels over the last five years have opened my eyes and heart to the LGBTQ community. I was invited to Europe for several Gay Pride events as an ally - a life-changing experience.
Chinese New Year Candle Lighting, Taipei
Coming from a Baptist background, religious traditions outside of Christianity fascinate me. During my time in Asia, I was exposed to the stark contrast offered by Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, and Confucianism. Each offering aspects that truly appealed to my personal sensibilities. I shot this at a small temple in Taipei on Chengdu Road.
Street Musician at Brick Lane, London
I’ve heard people claim that New York City is the world’s most diverse city. I thought the same until I visited London. London, in my opinion, is a true melting pot. As a black man, it’s amazing to see people of color freely communing with other races from around the world. It feels as if race is barely a factor in people's social interactions. I shot this at the Brick Lane Markets, where this very cool musician plays five days a week.
Monks on Their Phones at Siem Reap, Cambodia
Walking through Angkor Wat, I saw this monk using a smartphone. It led me to think how globalization and connectivity has reached almost every part of the world, even those places we think will still remain digitally untouched for a little while longer. Cambodia holds some truly great opportunities for photographers, but this particular image, which to me felt like technology invading the lives of those who choose isolation and meditation, threw me off and actually made me a bit sad.
Taksim Trolley in Istanbul
I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, when steel mills and car plants were the “future” for many young men. I recall jumping the train tracks and hopping on the slow-moving trains with friends. As I strolled through Istanbul, I saw these Turkish children doing the same. From one side of the planet to the next, those of us with little means are the same in so many ways. You can see this scene day and night from Taksim square, down Istiklal street, and finishing at Tunel.
Floating Market Vendor Smiling in Bangkok
I've been coming to Bangkok for almost ten years now. I’ve lived there off and on for five of those ten. I had never taken a canal tour until the day I took this shot. It showed me such a wonderful and different side of Bangkok. While riding in our private long tail boat, we saw this little lady paddle towards us out of nowhere. She was on her way to the nearby floating market from her home on the river, which we later realized was about 20 minutes of rowing away. She was selling little trinkets for cheap. I would have paid her triple just for the effort she put in!
Painting Merchant in Krakow, Poland
I shot this image the day after visiting Auschwitz Concentration Camp. And to be honest, I wasn’t in the best frame of mind. The darkness of the camp really cast a shadow over me, and made me think a lot about the oppression and anguish felt by my own race over the centuries. However, once I stumbled upon this scene I was reminded of the beauty that’s still in the world. How we live, learn, and move forward together, all shades and colors.
Café in Paris
Paris is just ridiculous in its wealth of photo opportunities. While exploring with a travel blogger friend of mine, we came upon this typically Parisian scene: A café in the dead of fall. I grew up reading about places like Paris and the representations always seemed fantastical to me. After visiting 92 countries, I can say without any reservation, the beauty of Paris wasn’t overstated. Although it has all the same issues as most big cities, there’s a unique charm to it. This was shot outside Le Palais-Royal Gardens.
BBQ in Budapest, Hungary
I travel for food. That’s really not a joke. I’ve drastically adjusted my travel schedule on several occasions to experience food culture. There’s no better way to learn about people and their customs than having a meal with them. I love the simplicity of the Hungarian barbecue. Coming from Texas, where barbecue is scientific, it's a welcome experience to see nothing but hunks of pork, fire, and a few vegetables for crunch. If you’re ever hungry in Hungary, try Fatányéros, a traditional mixed-grill specialty from Transylvania. You'll get beef, veal, pork chops, and of course...a thick cut of bacon.
Homeless Woman Sits in Times Square, NYC
I spend around 11 months a year outside of the US, visiting over 15 countries during that time on average. My perception of poverty has changed drastically due to my travels. When you see poverty in India, Haiti, and Cambodia, it’s difficult to compare it to poverty here in the US … until you see it again. As I walked through Times Square, this woman caught my eye, and it broke my heart. There was such excess and opulence all around her, but people passed as if she didn’t exist. Travel has removed the rose-colored glasses I once wore.
Monk in Moldova
There have been a few countries that pleasantly surprised me - Romania, Cambodia, and Chile to name a few. But none of them confused me like Moldova. It’s beauty, affordability, and people make it a great travel destination. Yet, they struggle to attract visitors. I shot this at Orheiul Vechi, a monastery built into the side of a cliff. This monk actually lives inside the cave the same way monks have since the 12th century. I sneakily shot this right after he had slapped my friend upside the head for smoking and making noise outside the monastery door. Moral of the story: Don’t mess with the monks in Moldova! Also reminded me of the older ladies at Southern Baptist churches.
Basilica Cistern in Istanbul
I'm never at a loss as to why Istanbul is considered one of the world’s most beautiful cities. It has endured much in its long and colorful history of being a meeting place for both East and West, but it continues to inspire my photography and pushes me to try new styles, gear, and techniques.
Canal Ride in Venice, Italy
I’m a single man that travels the world alone. While some may find this sad, I enjoy it just fine. Well, that’s until I visit places that are carefully curated and marketed towards couples, and the iconic city of Venice is one of those places. It’s basically the last place a single man should ever visit because it’ll have you asking yourself some very tough questions!
I was very lucky that the weather wasn't absolutely terrible and I was able to explore the city and get some fun shots. I've always been fascinated by the color red in London. It's such a stark contrast to the general bland tones the city tends to have. Grey's and browns figure prominently in the design scheme there. This booth was shot outside The British Museum.
Lee Beng Chuan Making Sandalwood Joss Sticks in George Town Penang, Malaysia
Meet Lee Beng Chuan. One of the most inspirational people I've ever met. This man is 89 years old and still gets up early every morning to make sandalwood joss sticks - something he's been doing for over 60 years to feed his family. One aspect of Asian cultures that seems quite common is how long people work. It seems that in Asia, retirement is just a suggestion. One that's not too commonly taken. Seeing his energy and passion really put things in perspective for me. What are you truly passionate about that you'll practice for 60 years?