My Favorite Pictures of 2015 & Their Stories

Signature in the Stars

With its higher elevation and dry climate, Namibia offers some of the best nights for viewing stars. I went to this country with no plan at all. I arrived knowing no one and had no game plan. The job I was doing was to build relationships with organizations on behalf of World Race. After seeking out a few potentials I came in contact with a very sweet couple who generously let me stay at their house. It was in the middle of practically no where which made it even better to view the stars. One night I slipped out and walked along the railroad tracks until I found a bridge where I took this picture.

Favorite photography

Lightning Over Cambodia

The work I did in Cambodia was not for the feint of heart. Eating very little each day and long hours of teaching english and working construction, made for exhausting evenings. As usual during rainy season, it would rain in the afternoons. This made the heat a lot more bearable. One day in particular it didn’t rain in the afternoon, but the sky was growing very dark. As night fell so did a large thunderstorm. It was the kind of storm where lightning and thunder clapped simultaneously. The friend I was volunteering with talked me into going out into the storm to get pictures. Although he wasn’t a photographer he was excited to see what I could do with these elements. Reluctantly I agreed to go with him. After several close encounters with lightning and about a hundred pictures later this was the winner. Running back to the village through a storm, soaking wet with some pictures of lightning over Cambodian rice fields is something I will never forget.

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Hearts in India

When I went to India for the first time I was completely taken back by the amount of poverty. Beggars would overwhelm me and my friends most places we went. It was very hard to know how to respond, we desperately wanted to help them all but the magnitude of this kind of need is too great. Most tourists and travelers get into the habit of simply ignoring these people in need. There are so many and it is a lot easier to simply overlook them. While parked in the crammed Indian traffic some people began to approach the parked cars for money. In a moment of sympathy my friend, although having nothing on hand to give, Simply looked at a man and smiled. Her smile attracted him to come closer. Motioning sign language for love and making heart shaped symbols with her hands, a sweet exchange began to unfold. From the other car I could now see this man gleaming.

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Forgotten Ruins

While on my way to Thailand from Cambodia I stopped in Siem Reap for a few days with the team I was traveling with. I had heard this was home to arguably the most iconic temple ruins on Earth. There was only one problem, I was sick. I had already had a fever for five days and even walking was enough to send pains through my chest. To make matters worse I had to get on a bus the next day to travel several hours to Bankok. Despite the circumstances, I grabbed my camera and waved down a rik-shaw driver. I headed to Angkor Wat and began hiking around the ruins. The numerous stairs and intense heat cause my symptoms to flare and I had to take several breaks. I wasn’t able to spend near the amount of time I needed to to do this place any justice with my camera. Off the beaten path however I found this nameless collection of memories and mortar. Looking back, it was totally worth it, even though my sickness lasted a total of 15 days altogether and multiples trips to different hospitals, this picture will always serve as a reminder to me to push through the pain. There’s nothing better than fighting for your adventure!

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Early Morning in Asia

I had already spent about 3 weeks in Chiang Mai and my time was almost up in this gorgeous place. My friend and I agreed to one more adventure before we headed to the next location. We loaded a pack up, rented a scooter, and headed to the top of the highest mountain in Thailand. This adventure was incredible. We had no idea what we were doing and hardly any plan. We camped off to the side an obligatory trail in the middle of raw Thai jungle. We went to bed around 7PM that night because the real goal was to see the sunrise over the city the next morning. Waking up at 4AM and packing up the campsite was eerie to say the least. Not knowing what creatures lurked on this mountain was disconcerting and driving through the narrow roads in the dark was exactly the adventure we were seeking. We came to this overlook just in time to see the light breech the darkness.

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An Unexpected Stop

The traffic in Nepal is an adrenaline rush! People will get so close to your vehicle you wonder how there isn’t a scream between the two metals grinding. So 3 friends and I decided to get motorcycles and see if we could brave this traffic to go 7 hours west. Our goal was to reach a town called Pokerah. The view and sights of Nepal are extravagantly breathtaking. I am an avid motorcyclist, it’s one of my favorite past times, but between the hectic and deadly traffic, and the breathtaking scenery, this was an experience unlike any other. Due to time restraints we weren’t able to make it to the city. The traffic was just too restrictive for us to make it there on the time frame we needed to. We did however happen to find a massive waterfall pouring from the top of a mountain. Tucked away on the side of the highway was a glorious example of the power of water. I handed the camera to a friend and he snapped this picture. We ended up making it back slightly before dark. After 10 hours of driving my butt was numb and my face was black from the suit of diesel busses. It was totally worth it!

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No Gift Too Small

As stated above the poverty in India is overwhelming. One day my team and I were able to go to a popular spot to pass out rice. We went to an area where a lot of beggars go because they know that tourists are more likely to give.

They were right.

This photo is actually a screenshot from a video I made of the experience. Something as simple as a small sack of rice was enough to brighten these people’s day. This was an extremely honoring and humbling experience. When I got back to our hostel and looked at this footage I was completely captivated by this woman’s smile. She was so happy to receive a bag of rice. Her joy was contagious and this photo will forever humble me.

To see the video click here

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I had recently made a new friend that I would be later backpacking the world with. We decided to meet up and have a “mini adventure” before the real adventure. Our weekend camping trip ended up turning into a week long road trip across multiples states. We averaged about 500 miles a day, camping in random parks or crashing on friends couches. Eventually we ended up on a secluded beach. Hiking miles just to get here, we spent the night on the beach. A storm passed far out at sea and between the colors of the distant city lights, and the lightning rikashaying between the clouds, this is definitely one of my favorites.

(Funny note: while trying to stay perfectly still for this long exposure, a bug flew into my friends nose and he sneezed. As soon as he could he regained his composure and continued posing. If you look closely you can see he’s slightly blurry from the sneeze. Nevertheless this picture is full of lifelong memories).

To see a playlist of this road trip click here!

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Dreaming Under Stars

Kentucky is one of the most beautiful states. I may be slightly biased after growing up there but in mid March of 2015 I was just starting to get the hang of photography by taking pictures around my home state. Around 11PM some friends joined me to capture some pictures of the stars. This tree intrigued me and after a few shots I told my friends that it would be awesome if someone was actually sitting in the tree. When the “not-its” started to ensue I decided I would have to be the one. after giving my friends basic instruction of how to take the picture I started to climb. Thorns and thistles made it more challenging that I originally thought but the result was well worth it to me.

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Unnamed Waterfall

For me a true adventure is off the beaten path. It’s cool to see popular places for sure but when you can find or see something that most humanity doesn’t know about – for me that’s the real adventure. After hours of hiking through the Daniel Boone National Forest I stumbled on this beauty. This gorgeous waterfall is even more intriguing to me because there is no trail leading up to it. Maybe a handful of Kentucky hunters have seen this but apart from that not many people have had the privilege of finding their own waterfall.

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