Category Vacation

Zimele, the story through my lens

Dear ladies and germs, this will be my very first international volunteer trip! I am heading to South Africa to tell the story the women and children of Kwazulu Natal. The core purpose of Zimele is to teach them skills that will help self sustain their community, instead of relying on outsiders to fund and provide for them. As one woman said, “I’d rather you teach me to fish, than to give me fish.” Just as critical is allowing the women to build confidence and respect.

My first goal is to teach the community how to use their computers for education and business, as well as teaching them basic photography skills with the digital cameras that have been donated to them. They will be tasked with telling their own story with the cameras. This is a significant step in empowering women.

My second goal is to tell my own story through my photography. I am most excited to share the beauty and hardships of life in poverty of South Africa. You will not see endless sad photos from me, instead, I will tell stories of success, joy, and a bright future for this community.

Along with your monetary support, you will be providing me with encouragement to know what you support what I do. I am providing the funds for my own trip. 100% of your donations go straight to Zimele.

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I will set a deadline for the fundraiser to be May 12th, the date I fly out to South Africa!

Show some love! El Bob thanks you for every donation made!

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Vacation Photography: Switzerland

Imagine you’re on a vacation of a life time, you spend a large amount of time researching what camera and lens you need only to find out it’ll cost you more than you imagined just to snap some mediocre photos on your trip because you don’t even have time to learn how to use it. Not to mention, you will have to carry a few pounds of equipment every where you go. Or perhaps the only photos you will take during your vacation are a few mobile phone snapshots, which is not worth looking at again. So how do you solve this dilemma? Hire a vacation photographer!

I was hired by my friend Jennie for a snowboarding vacation to Zermatt, Switzerland early this year, and my job was to document the trip and scenery. I flew to Zurich, rented an eco-car Ford Ka, and proceeded to setup my iPad navigation to route to Zermatt. I found out the hard way that the Wi-Fi only iPad can only activate GPS when it’s connected to Wi-Fi, what a waste of a GPS feature! My iPhone had GPS signal but no data service, so I could only use a cached map of Switzerland on Google Maps to guide me through the major highways. The rest of the local roads and all German signs I had to learn on the way. What would’ve taken 3 hours on the major highways ended up taking me 7+ hours on local scenic routes. Every minute of it was exhilarating and beautiful, I would’ve missed all the sights had I used the highways. I was able to experience endless tunnels through mountains, windy dangerous roads, and car trains.

I explored the resort in Zermatt, and took a lift all the way up the mountain to 9,000 feet where they built a restaurant complete with free Wi-Fi. You can see the famous Matterhorn mountain which is the logo used for Toblerone chocolates. From there, I took another lift higher up the mountain followed by a short elevator ride and two flights of stairs to finally reach 12,736 feet on top of the Swiss Alps, “Europe’s highest mountain lift” so the sign says. Those crazy Swiss had also decided to build another full restaurant/gift shop on top!

I had once seen a travel show on Lake Como, labeled as one of the most beautiful places in Italy. Star Wars and James Bond were both filmed there, and Clooney, Versace, and Madonna have all had homes on the lake. After watching the show I knew I wanted to visit there someday. While looking at the map, I noticed Lake Como was only a short drive away, I couldn’t pass up the chance to visit. Jennie and I were so excited we planned a one day trip to Lake Como, and we can now say “Yeah, we drove to Lake Como, Italy just for lunch and gelato.”

I couldn’t have asked for a better trip. My ideal vacation is to be spontaneous and adventurous. Rent a car, and explore local sights and good-eats, with an occasional tourist stop. I have enough driving experience in different countries to get me around without much issue, and getting lost is half the fun. Jennie was able to enjoy her vacation fully without having to buy and learn a new camera, carry the equipment, stop to take photos, learn how to drive stick, navigate alone in a different country, come home and download/edit/upload tons of photos. All the things I take care of as a hired vacation photographer.

Where do you want to take me next?


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Fairy Tale in Maui

Queenie and Michael live in Taiwan but found me through a mutual friend. They were looking for a photographer who can capture their interactions with each other in the most natural way, and not the same poses from all the Asian photo studios. You can see the children still trapped inside the couple wanting to come out to play, and this trip out to Maui, their summer home, was a perfect opportunity. The wedding photos to follow on the next post.