And so the time has come when the idea that came to me 3 years ago hits maturation. I Belong Nowhere, even in its infancy, I know, will last way beyond the time that I am on this planet. To teach, educate, inspire… is such a gift that exceeds many accolades especially when it will positively affect the future of the next generation. Even if now you cannot see, I for sure do. And the things we do everyday add up to the collective in which you will become a day from now, a year from now, 20 years from now.
This program has completed its first round to Lake Isabella, CA during MLK weekend. The workshop kicked off with 2 days of in classroom learning where we created mood boards to help us get into the mood. Mood boards are a great way to get creative while also secretly manifesting the things we want and the things we desire whether now or for the future. The girls really enjoyed this part, which will be implemented for every workshop to come. It’s a great icebreaker as well as a great way for people to see images that can reflect color, composition, lighting, subject, and more. The two days in classroom I presented to my students what travel photography entails, what to expect while in the field, what kinds of things you can shoot and what we will get into while at Lake Isabella. To be honest it was scary at how well all of this panned out and I cannot thank the Las Fotos Project enough for trusting my vision, giving me tons of support and also providing me with an amazing group of students, Ruth, Alejandra, Sofia and Jazmyn.
Saturday January 19th we all met at Las Fotos where I demanded the girls to make sure they packed lite as my Nissan Altima trunk is half of what it looks like. After a few minor setbacks we were on the road heading north. Prior, I had made check points on google maps for places that we could stop to eat, etc… First stop aside from getting gas, was stopping to have breakfast at Chelly’s cafe in Palmdale, CA. Did we approve, yes. Would we got back, yes. Thought Id say no right?
When we first started to ascend into the mountains, the girls got really excited as so did I. It is a natural reaction for me when sceneries change especially when you go from looking at buildings all day to vast landscapes where most humans are non existent. Those are the places that remind us that were not the only ones living on this planet. As everyone was saying how pretty it was, I pulled over so we could have a few minutes to take in our new environment. We stopped alongside a road where there was a farm with tons of cows mooing around. We got out our cameras took a few shots and hoped back in the car as we were only about 30 minutes away from Lake Isabella at this point. Upon arrival I told the girls to wait in the car while I went in to register and get the keys. Took a few minutes, but once that was settled we parked and entered what none of us really expected. When I was at this KOA in September, my roommate and I stayed in a much smaller cabin with a lot less amenities. This Cabin was large and had everything we needed for our 3 days there. They were shocked because what they had expected from camping was not at all what they got.
Our first visit of the trip would be to the Nuui Cunni Native American Inter Tribal Center. Before visiting this place I was hoping to connect with somewhere there who would have been willing to let us do a mini project, but that communication never followed through. None the less this place is amazing and a must see while in the area. We had to go the day we arrived because Sunday’s they are closed and Monday we would already be heading back to LA. It was an experience worth a deeper look as I myself have never been in an establishment that carried so much Native American memorabilia, history, books, jewelry, pottery, clothes, I mean you name it. Much of the stuff was for sale, but it also functions as a museum of some sort. We had the pleasure of speaking to some volunteers who were Native and told us some great stories about what was happening in that area during that time and the great massacre that occurred. Here is a good article I found on the massacre.
After Nuui Cunni we went out to eat, went grocery shopping, made it back to our cabin safely, and prepared for a night of smores, photography and good conversation. The following morning was where the real workshop began. We got up early to head to Mill Creek trail, which was about a 30 minute drive from the KOA. The photography lesson took place here were we worked on landscapes, environmental, portraits and overall travel photos. The thing about photographing in nature is that you have to be creative. We learned about opening up and this is where I took portraits of all of the girls. We talked about lighting and shooting in direct sun. We worked on shooting details of our environment and more. After about 2 hours the girls were hungry and needed a bathroom break. Prior to heading to Mill Creek we got lunch at Ralph’s. After lunch we headed back to our KOA for a nap before making our way to the grand finally, which was to photograph Lake Isabella itself. Our assignment was to photograph our environment, what we see and also take 30 minutes to engage in journaling and self reflection, which is a huge part of this program. It’s crucial for us as humans to really take in our current experiences and also learn to let go what does not serve us. This was a great way to end the day as we headed to dinner at a local restaurant, enjoying our last night in Lake Isabella.
As night time rolled around we were ready for a campfire, snacks, smore’s and of course the lunar eclipse that we had front row seats too. This was beyond amazing as we were literally watching the eclipse right before our eyes. We took photos and worked on some night time photography. After the sky turned black with clouds, indicating a storm was approaching we were ready for bed and amazingly grateful for our time spent at Lake Isabella. There was a huge storm in the middle of the night with extreme winds. When we woke that morning there was a weird feeling that was both freeing and erie. We opened the door to see the sky was in this limbo stage of night and day, black and blue. It was so weird, but understandable especially with what we witnessed the night before. Packing and ready to go the next hour the sky cleared and there was snow all over the mountains. Some of the girls have never seen snow before. We said our goodbyes to the wonderful KOA staff, got in the car and headed to the town for one last look around. It was freezing which added another cool element to the day. We pulled over, took some shots around town and headed back to LA. Passing the Kern river we got out the car for some more shots before fully being out of the mountains where we had lunch at a local Ihop. After eating it was back to LA and we said our goodbyes until next time.
I have to say this was way more successful than I had imagined and it wasn’t because I assumed destruction, but when you do something to this magnitude for the 1st time, your brain automatically goes into fear mode. I am responsible for 4 precious lives and that is also a task within itself. After each of them was picked up by their parents there was this shock of euphoria that dripped over me, which was a sign from the universe saying you did it and this is only the beginning. This was a week before I was to move out of my apartment for good, have all of my stuff in storage, and head to South America, which is where I am now writing this article. I’m in a cafe in Medellin, Colombia, drinking coffee, talking trash to my siblings via our group chat and thanking the universe for all it has provided me with so far.
This entire story is so that you can see what you can do by simply believing and following through even if it hurts, even if you are unsure of the outcome. You are a human. A high vibrational being already. Use this time to be great. You were born, the rest is for you.