Sunday, 21 February 2016

Dear Future Wife - Love Letters in the form of Photo-Illustrations

I have wanted to get married for as long as I could remember. I have thought of a database of potential dates, anniversary surprises, and even proposal ideas (don't judge me). And while I am still far from being ready for marriage in many ways (financially, mentally, maturity, etc but at the same time is anyone really ever ready...?), this very deep desire of mine to share life with my future wife is clearly evident to me. Another dream of mine is to travel the world, and throughout all my travels, there have been countless moments where I was blown away with what I was seeing, experiencing, or eating, but there was always a subtle pang in the back of my mind, "I wish I got to experience this with my wife instead" (DON'T GET ME WRONG I LOVE ALL THE PEOPLE I GOT TO SHARE THESE EXPERIENCES WITH). Thus the Dear Future Wife idea was born!

This is the view from my condominium every night after sunset, and Grace absolutely loves adding magic to the pictures.

How it began:

I approached my talented friend Grace with the idea of having her draw the character/figure of my wife character on the pictures that I take as if I were traveling with my wife. We discussed traits of what this character would look like, what kind of clothes she would wear, her personality, how she would walk, sit, stand, etc But in the end we decided that instead of being Arnold's wife, she would represent the future spouse that we long for. She would not fit any specific mold or any preexisting person because we didn't want to come from a place of expectation, but she would be simply a hope of the future.

This picture was taken near my old house. I could not help but stare at the mess of streetcar wires that work so flawlessly. This was also during a period where I was feeling uninspired in my own city and desperately wanted to leave, but as Grace encouraged me to explore in my own city, I was able to capture this shot. Grace thought of lines and boundaries as she saw the wires and remembered how she was always taught to think outside the lines, which is what exploring leads to as well.

How it works:

I would send Grace the photographs I take on my adventures, and sometimes tell her what I was feeling/thinking during those moments. She would then draw the wife character based on the emotions and thoughts the photograph incites in her. Sometimes the wife character is just being a tourist with me, and other times she breaks the law of physics completely, interacting with the space in an other-worldly way. I had a lot of trouble thinking of how to caption the pictures. I thought of pushing the cheesiness to the max and attach romantic quotes, or to simply explain what I was feeling/my inspiration for the picture. But in the end I decided on my friend Melissa's idea that I should turn the captions into a dialogue.

This was a random shot I took when I was in Northern Ireland, one that I neglected, until Grace completely changed how I saw this picture through the idea of a game of Hide and Seek.

What's next:

I am going to keep traveling, and Grace will keep drawing (hopefully Grace will get to travel with me sometimes so she can be there when I take the pictures). We want to turn this into a long series of different places around the world. One of my favourite aspects of this project is that I don't need to take the most breath taking photos (in fact, Grace prefers my pictures to be less grand, which is how I usually take my landscape pictures), but Grace will turn any photos that I take whether they are deemed "worthy" of being a part of my portfolio or not, into beautiful pictures. I have been able to send her a lot of my older travel pictures that I didn't think were "good enough" to show to the public, and she has breathed new life into them with her drawings. In the same way, I know that all of our future spouses will be able to breath new air into our lives as well.

One of our ideas for Valentine's Day, "heart on the sleeve".

From Grace:

I am not a romantic person. Nor do I really want to get married. In fact, traditionally romantic and cheesy things, make me want to projectile vomit. However, this project is still one that clings deeply to a theme of love. In the process of drawing Future Wife, I think of the many inspiring women that are in my life. These women fall on a wide spectrum of personalities and characters. Some are avid daydreamers, some are headstrong and boss-ladies, some are quiet and pensive, and some are a bit of everything and more. Most importantly they are all women that (are learning to) love themselves. The Character, Future Wife, is reflective of the many different women that I have met, and have yet to meet. To Me, Dear Future Wife is not so much a love-letter to my Future Self or the other Future Wives to come, but a series of photo-illustrations to encourage us to see all that there is to love within ourselves.

This was a picture from the beginning of our series in NYC. Grace wanted to draw attention to the growth of otherwise "unsightly" weeds and vegetation.

Friday, 2 October 2015

Falling In Love With Norway: The People (Norway post #4) AND I'M ON T.V.!!!

(T.V. episode link is at the end of the post!)

There are many reasons to travel, we want to try new food, see beautiful landscapes, and immerse ourselves in an unknown culture. But probably my favourite part of traveling, is getting to meet other people. Now that I think about it, people are probably just my favourite thing in life. There is nothing more diverse than humans (okay maybe there are more species of insects or something but you get my point). Each with their own stories to share, countless components that make up an identity, layers of feelings and emotions, as well as having the ability of send someone to the moon (try doing that, insects!). But all jokes aside, humans are amazing creatures and getting to meet someone from another side of the world that has grown up in a culture completely different than mine is absolutely fascinating. So let me introduce you guys to some of the kindest people I have ever met.

This is Eirik, our tour guide for the Munch museum, never have I been so interested in visual art as when Eirik talked about it.
This is Annett, one of our two kayak tour guides in Oslo, here she is showing us how to peel fresh Greenland shrimp!
Renate (left) and Martine (right) took care of us the whole entire time in Oslo, and taught me so much about living in Norway.
I already mentioned that the Norwegians really care about their quality of life, and it really showed even in my first moments in Norway. There was an air of contentment all around me as everyone seemed to enjoy life. I have to admit, the thought of “will I experience racism in a place that does not have many visible minorities” definitely came up. After all I grew up in one of the most multicultural cities, if not the most in the world, Toronto. But I’m thankful to say, I experienced nothing but hospitality and kindness, and an abundance of it!

This is (left to right) Bol, Camilla, Blanca, and Christian, the family I had the pleasure of meeting in Son, such genuine and beautiful human beings!
This is Knut, the kayak guide from Camp Son, he gave me a hat he crocheted! It is now my new go to winter hat!
One of my favourite moments in Norway was the time that I spent with a family in Son, as well as our region guide, a kayak instructor from Camp Son, and the DreamJobbing team. We took a boat out to this small island that had a small wooden house on it. I learned how to catch crabs from the two small children, snorkeled for mussels/oysters, and just enjoyed a delicious home cooked meal with these people who went from being strangers to almost a family in a matter of hours.

This is Anders, the food blogger with such rich knowledge about Norwegian food. Also quite the pleasant dinner company! Check out his blog
Another interesting person I met was Anders, a food blogger that I started talking to in the Mathallen Oslo, because he told us about the history of reindeer meat. During my free time we ended up going out for dinner at this beautiful restaurant (check out his post about our experience here, and had some of the best food I have ever had in my life. Anders became a food blogger due to his love for food, and as food was one of the biggest topics that I was interested in, he was able to shed a lot of light on both traditional Norwegian cuisine, and new Nordic cuisine. He was funny, friendly, and ended up being from the city that we were headed to the next day, Stavanger, so he was able to give me more tips about what to see and even who to meet in the city.

This is Karl Erik the chef (, diligently working on the king crab legs.
This is Tobias, the chef at The Thief, he fell in love with food as he watched his grandma cook from a young age.
This is Anton, the head chef at Egget in Stavanger. They create their menu every morning depending on what ingredients they get for the day, so their food is always fresh and delicious. The customer never knows what to expect, and there's no room to be picky!
The person Anders connected me with was a chef named Karl Erik, the owner of the Fisketorget Stavanger (the fish market). Karl was such a joyous person, as I witnessed him serving each person with fresh seafood, he also did it with the biggest smile on his face. He genuinely enjoyed sharing his food with each customer and his spirits lightened up the whole room. Karl Erik was only one of the many chefs I met on this trip, each chef that I got to come across had a different story, and different reasons for why they loved food. Some were very quiet in demeanor, while others had the attitude of “I serve whatever the f*** I want, if the customers don’t like it, they can leave”, and of course, this restaurant was packed. As I talked to each chef, I fell in love with each of their stories, and hearing about how much hardship they had to endure and overcome to be doing the jobs they were doing now.

This is Reidar, the artist who had spent over 30 years building his fictional model city, and it definitely showed.
Another inspiring man was an artist named Reidar, who had a couple of museums dedicated to all the art he has created. This man was an artist in every way possible, he not only made paintings and sculptures, but also a perpetual motion machine, bred fish that were not supposed to be able to survive in cold water, to be able to survive in cold water, as well as the most detailed fictional model city I have ever seen. He was extremely genuine and unabashed, when I asked him why there were so many sculptures of naked women, he replied, “because I’m a man, I love women!” And when I asked him about what tips he could give me as an artist, he told me to “look through the camera like you have never seen before, by crawling on all fours, putting the camera on the back of your head, and just put the camera on your dick and see what kind of images you get!” Needless to say, I laughed quite frequently in his presence.

This is Bjorn, a tour guide at the Oscarsborg fortress. His deep love for history and wanting to share that with me was very evident and I was captivated by his stories. His insight allowed me to get a deeper understanding of Norway's history. Our time was cut short due to time restraints and there was a sadness about him as we parted because he couldn't show me everything he had wanted to, which not only made me admire him more, but also more curious about Norway.
This is James, an expert on street art, and the manager for the Nuart Festival that happens in Stavanger every year. 
This cute couple Aud and Evan, are the proud owners of Aegir microbrewery in Flom. I'm not a big fan of alcohol, but gotta admit, there were some pretty darn good beers there, not to mention the amazing food!
Of course it goes without saying there are so many other people who made my experience in Norway an amazing one, but if I wrote about each person this post would turn into a book. I do earnestly have to thank my sponsors and each person at Innovation Norway USA, who made this entire dream experience possible, the DreamJobbing crew for being my mentors and my best friends on the trip, and of course my friends and family back at home who believed in me to no end, even to the point of making their friends who don’t know me vote for me. Thank you all so much for making a dream come true and crossing quite a few things off my bucket list!

AND NOW FOR THE CULMINATION OF MY TRIP! You guys have all seen my picture but while I was in Norway, the DreamJobbing team filmed my experience in Norway, and it’s finally out! You can watch all my stuttering, awkward posing, and of course, the beauty of Norway, right here: