Music Obsessions July 2014

This past month has been unusual; normally I explore new artists. Instead, I’ve been listening deeper into the ones I already know. The music I’m sharing with you here is contemplative, deep-toned, and reflects how I’ve felt for the past month.

“Immolate Yourself” album by Telefon Tel Aviv

My favorite track on this album is easily “Helen of Troy“, and it fights for the title of “my most played song”. In 2013, Telefon Tel Aviv was on tour/on stage with Nine Inch Nails. Their sound is light and mostly instrumental. Unfortunately it’s difficult to explain these different albums because the feelings are mostly described by listening to the songs.

“We Were Exploding Anyway” album by 65daysofstatic

I’ve written about post-rock before and how much I love it. 65daysofstatic came up one day while I was listening to “world’s end girlfriend“, and I fell in love with their work. They’ve remixed a ridiculous amount of music and it’s easy to find their work in the post rock genre. I think they’ve even remixed some of “Matryoshka“‘s work.

“Obsidian” album by Baths

Baths is incredibly easy to fall in love with, especially if you’ve heard his album “Cerulean” before. Rather than being upbeat like previous albums, “Obsidian” is much darker and deeper. It’s heavy to listen to and I spend a lot of time editing pictures while listen to this.

“Making up a Changing Mind” album by Pretty Lights

The Hot-Shit” is a series of podcasts where Pretty Lights producer Derek Vincent Smith plays music off his label. Each one is an hour-long and incredibly well made. Now I think he’s on¬†episode 108 or something crazy like that. In the first one I fell in love with the song “Understand Me Now”, from this album. After listening to it a couple thousand times I finally moved to the entire CD. After a few thousand plays I think it’s a great album. Check it out!

 

I hope that you found some new artists to listen to. These four albums have been on repeat and I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve listen through them. They’ve define this month and I hope that you’ll add a few new songs into your current playlist! ūüôā

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Exploring Cypress Gardens

firstA few months ago, my car died¬†and I’ve been stranded with a poor public transportation system. The only times I go out are when friends make trips to the store or when others let me use their car. So when I woke up to a text, “let’s explore something today”, I jumped out of bed at the offer.

My friend Cory and I decided to explore Cypress Gardens, a local area that offers 170 acres of gardens and swamp. The park is a series of trails that surround a wooded swamp. When I first arrived in Charleston, my friend Kate recommended I go to the gardens for photography. While nothing was blooming, I had the opportunity to photograph Cory instead.

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This swamp was filled with trees, lily pads, and apparently…

IMG_7995…alligators!

Cory is from California and I’m from Minnesota. Neither of us have seen an alligator outside of a zoo. Now we’re going to walk trails that could have them laying next to us! Maybe we should have known¬†from Cypress Gardens’ logo, or the map they gave us, or that we live in South Carolina.

Nonetheless, we drove a half an hour to visit the park. We weren’t going to leave just because of alligators or “other animals” (still wondering about that).

IMG_8008This trail was marked with the sign from the earlier photo. As you can see, it’s wide and clearly defined. Having no previous experience with southern wildlife, we both cautiously started on the trail. On the left the swamp is about 3-4 feet from the path. This means easy access for an alligator to grab us and drag us to our premature deaths.

Around 200 feet down, the trail narrows and becomes less defined. This is where people reevaluated their decision to walk down the trail. I don’t blame them because there was another two less official signs, one read “CAUTION Alligators and snakes may rest upon trails. Never approach an alligator.” The other probably said, “Walk this trail and you’ll surely meet your end!”. It may as well have.

But, we weren’t going to be deterred from a great experience!

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If you didn’t know, alligators sound like bullfrogs, or at least that’s what I’ve been told.

As we walked down the ever-narrowing trail, the sound of bullfrogs became clear. It was like everything was quiet so we could focus all of our attention on our inevitable doom. I don’t understand why the trail was so close to the swamp, it’s like they were trying to feed us to the alligators.

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This of course didn’t stop us from occasionally pausing for photographs.

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The trail felt like it lasted forever and it didn’t stop narrowing until we got much further ahead. Bushes and fallen trees obscured the path so we didn’t always know where to step. It was evident that this trail wasn’t frequently used because there were spider webs all over the place.

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It looks innocent enough… but how about closer to its actual size…

nope

After seeing one, we realized that there were spiders covering bushes along the entire trail. Then we stepped into a web that stretched 4 feet wide, as if the spider had hopes of catching a bear. There weren’t any bear encounters on this trail thankfully.

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Occasionally the trail would dart right and it would look like it was coming to an end… but it wasn’t. It only brought us closer to the sound of bullfrogs and other potential predators.

The end of the trail was completely covered in bushes, half-downed trees, and broken bridges/walkways over the swamp. It brought us to large mounds of dirt that we’d have to climb around. Oh, I forgot to mention the caution tape.

Along the way, in the middle of the woods, there was caution tape between trees or shrubs. Parts of the trail walked directly next to this stuff, which reminded me of police investigation tape. So while we were hearing bullfrogs, dodging giant spiders, and trying to stay on trail, we had to observe caution tape… on a hiking trail with alligators…

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Eventually our adventure came to an end. We found an opening back to pavement, as if a blessing from the gods. It was abrupt and opened into a wide, and heavily traveled, path. Our trail almost vanished behind us with how obscure the way was.

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From then on we sailed smoothly¬†through the rest of the park. Joyous that mosquitoes weren’t gnawing at our legs and that the spiders were gone. Here’s a few more images from rest of adventure…

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This was a burial site right after we exited the woods. The cross stood 15 feet high with three gravestones at its base.IMG_8153

Look at how happy we are to be out of the woods!

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If life gives you a trail of alligators and spider webs, I would suggest finding bug spray and wearing pants before going on it. No matter what happens in life, you’ll always have an adventure. Bug spray or not.

This morning I woke up to an invitation to explore something new. I darted out of bed in anticipation of finding that new experience. This is how life should be; waking up with the excitement to¬†explore the world and going out to do it. Days like today remind me that I’m alive and that there’s plenty of the world left to explore.

I hope all of you find that in yourself each day and go out into the world to fulfill it. Right now my legs itch (hopefully not from poison ivy) and I’m exhausted, so I’ll cut this off here. Have a wonderful night everybody and don’t let the sound of bullfrogs scare you away! Life is too short to skip adventures like this!

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Whitney Justesen’s Icelandic Expedition (Interview)

Theodore Roosevelt once said, “keep your eyes on the stars and your feet on the¬†ground”. He was speaking about balancing great dreams with action. A¬†photographer from Northern California reminds me of this quote because she is¬†down to earth but dreams of distant lands. She manages these wander-struck¬†dreams of travel by making them into a reality.

Whitney Justesen is an all-around artist. Currently, she runs her own photography business in California and enthusiastically posts about the places she visits. She specializes in portraiture and has no reservations about blending people with the beautiful landscapes she sees. Her presence on Flickr has made her known as both a kind person and powerful artist.

Whitney’s style often aligns with what Damien Rayuela¬†calls “The Halted¬†Traveler”. This style of art was attributed to romantic German painters whose¬†subjects looked away from the viewer. This asks the person looking at the¬†photograph to share the view with the subject.

Whitney’s art is intimate in the same way: you have the opportunity to feel like¬†you are standing with the person she photographed. These emotions are well documented¬†along with her travels on her Flickr¬†and Tumblr. You can¬†tell that Whitney is going to far away places because with each photograph, she¬†invites you to run away with her.

The latest place she brought us to is Iceland.

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_________________

Eric Albee:

Whitney, first I wanted to say thank you, both for the interview and sharing so¬†much of yourself. Your passion for life is louder than words and your desire to¬†travel is contagious! It’s a pleasure to interview again and I look forward to seeing¬†more of your work in the future.

Let’s start at the beginning, you teamed up with photographers Rob Woodcox¬†and Elizibeth Gadd¬†for this trip. The three of you funded your stay¬†through Kickstarter under the name “The Restless Youth“. Where did the¬†idea of traveling to Iceland originate and why did you choose this as your name?

Whitney Justesen:

The idea for traveling to Iceland was actually Lizzy‚Äôs idea,¬†originally. She had been discussing it with a friend of hers for months, and¬†then with another friend of ours from Flickr, and then with Rob. I originally¬†did not expect to go with them, but as soon as I heard about it, I knew that¬†that was something I would love to do. When the other friend unexpectedly¬†dropped out because of financial restraints, Lizzy and Rob came to me and¬†asked if I would be interested in joining them. Without almost a second¬†thought, I made my decision to go‚ÄĒand the rest is history.

As far as the name ‚ÄúThe Restless Youth‚ÄĚ goes, it was a group decision to¬†come up with a catchy name to go by for our journey. After a lot of¬†discussion and debate, we decided on something that seemed to fit all our¬†personalities pretty well ūüėČ

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Eric Albee:

Rob (MI), Elizibeth (B.C.), and You (CA), come from very different parts of the¬†country. According to your biographies, you also seem to have different artistic¬†visions. How did you collaborate and plan this trip? What were some of the things¬†each person wanted? As a group, what locations and experiences did you decide¬†you couldn’t live without?

Whitney Justesen:

Rob, Lizzy, and I met for the first time back in 2012 in Vancouver, BC at a small Flickr meetup. I had been following both of their photography for several years previous to meeting them, and as soon as we got together, it was pretty obvious that we clicked. We all have very different backgrounds and artistic visions, but we are united in our desire to create and inspire the world with our art. We all knew that we wanted to
go into this journey to Iceland with the intention of creating something¬†new‚ÄĒfor Rob and Lizzy it was to create their own new photography series‚Äô,¬†and for me, I wanted to work on a short film about our expedition.¬†(Hopefully I‚Äôll start working on that soon haha)

Lizzy had all the locations planned out to a T. Since she has wanted to go to Iceland for years, she knew exactly the places we should see and visit in Iceland. With those places in mind, we were able to formulate ideas and come up with conceptual photographs that would work in those environments.

Eric Albee:

Lately there has been a lot of attention placed on Iceland for its beautiful¬†landscapes. Parts of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty were filmed in locations that¬†you visited. Music videos by famous musicians (i.e. Woodkid (“I Love You“)¬†and Bon Iver (Holocene))were also shot there. Artists like Sigur R√≥s¬†and Bj√∂rk originate from Reykjav√≠k. With all the media¬†displaying Iceland, what were some of your expectations before arriving?

Whitney Justesen:

Yeah! It’s really so interesting how much more attention Iceland has been getting in the media in the past few years. I’ve seen at least three movies in the past year that were filmed in Iceland, and as you said, some of the greatest music artists of our age are either Icelandic citizens, or have filmed music videos there. One of my favorite music videos is Holocene, by Bon Iver, which is filmed on location in Iceland.

It‚Äôs no wonder why, too, because Iceland is truly beautiful. It‚Äôs gorgeous in¬†such a distinct way from other places in the world because it‚Äôs so strange¬†and otherworldly, and relatively untouched in its natural beauty. Unlike the¬†U.S. and other popular tourist destinations around the world, there aren’t¬†fences and security guards and signs all over the place, making sure you¬†don‚Äôt touch anything. Iceland is real and raw in every way, and I wish there¬†were more places in the world like it.

I think if I had any expectations of what Iceland would be like before I went,¬†I think I knew I was going somewhere that was totally otherworldly‚ÄĒalmost¬†like walking on Mars or being transported into a prehistoric age. Obviously,¬†my expectations were met and exceeded in every way.

FiniteEric Albee:

A couple weeks before traveling to Iceland, you shot an elopement in Alaska.¬†You’ve also been to many other locations including Paris, Vienna, London and all¬†over Italy. What have you seen on this journey that is different from the earlier¬†ones? What were some of the unique challenges to visiting Iceland? Were there¬†any barriers in language or with laws that you had to overcome?

Whitney Justesen:

That’s the thing I love about traveling. Everywhere you go is different and interesting in it’s own way. That’s why I have such a strong desire to see more of the world, to experience life in other places and feel pleasantly uncomfortable in my surroundings. Europe is different from Iceland because of course there are several places that are tourist traps, so you have to be on your guard and watchful of everything you do.

That‚Äôs not¬†to say you can‚Äôt enjoy Europe, because obviously that‚Äôs not true‚ÄĒI love¬†Europe with all my heart and can‚Äôt wait to see more of it! However, it was¬†different in Iceland because, while some places were more ‚Äútouristy‚ÄĚ, the¬†majority of the country was open, untouched land just waiting to be¬†explored. I loved it.

Also, I was actually surprised how few language barriers there were in¬†Iceland; almost everyone in the country spoke English! I wasn’t expecting¬†that at all, especially knowing that Iceland was an isolated island without as¬†many tourists coming through as other places in Europe.

I think the biggest challenge we faced was understanding the names of¬†certain locations we visited (try saying Fja√įr√°rglj√ļfur five times fast) and¬†figuring out our way around the country. There was also a little incident¬†with a speeding ticket at one point that I won‚Äôt elaborate on‚Ķ ūüėČ

Eric Albee:

We all know how long a flight feels when you’re excited to go to a new place.¬†Especially when you have to fly over the ocean! You’re an experienced traveler,¬†so could share some of the ways that you keep yourself entertained on a long¬†flight? What songs were stuck on repeat for the flight over? Were there any¬†books you couldn’t put down?

Whitney Justesen:

Haha anyone who knows me knows that I strongly dislike flying. Reasons being, a) I dislike sitting in one place for several hours and b) I severely hate turbulence. So I guess with that being said, I’m a good person to ask this of because I usually have a lot of things to distract me on long flights haha.

I have a hard drive I usually bring with me that has¬†movies on it, or I read until I can‚Äôt keep my eyes open any more. This planebride it was ‚ÄúThe Fault in Our Stars‚ÄĚ, because the movie was coming out¬†right after I returned and I hadn’t read the book yet. Finished it halfway¬†through the first flight ūüėČ

When I don’t feel like reading or watching movies anymore, I often just stare out the window at the patterns in the clouds and the textures of the earth far below me. Those are always some of my favorite views on my
travels.

Also, I tried to keep a journal on this trip, but I literally just wrote one entry the entire time‚ÄĒon the flight to Iceland. Whoops‚Ķ

In The Shadow of the Falls

Eric Albee:

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty showed that Iceland is very different from the US.¬†There’s a scene in the movie when Walter interacts with two Icelandic boys who¬†don’t speak English. After non-verbally exchanging an item for a long-board, he¬†skates down the side of a mountain. During your adventure you visited that same¬†location. The newness of that experience was enough to change Walter’s outlook
on life. When you first arrived to Reykjav√≠k, and your view of Iceland was fresh¬†like Walter’s, what was the first thing that struck you? What were some of the¬†bizarre things that you saw while visiting the country?

Whitney Justesen:

I saw that movie (Walter Mitty) at the end of last year, and as¬†soon as the credits rolled, I told my friend Katie, ‚ÄúThat‚Äôs it, I‚Äôm going to go¬†to Iceland someday.‚ÄĚ At that point, I didn’t have any plans for visiting the¬†country, and Rob and Lizzy hadn’t even started discussing the trip. Who¬†could have known at that time that just about six months later, I would¬†actually be going to Iceland? It‚Äôs crazy to think about it now.

Anyways, on to your questions ūüėČ

Since I was about as unfamiliar with Iceland as Walter Mitty when I arrived,¬†besides reading some books and seeing some pictures, I didn’t know fully¬†what to expect. As I said in a previous answer, I knew Iceland was going to¬†be strange and different, but nothing could have truly prepared me for what¬†I was going to see. Iceland is such a mixture of landscapes and¬†environments‚ÄĒfrom calm mountainous valleys with waterfalls trickling¬†down, to harsh volcanic regions, to tumultuous beaches with gigantic cliffs¬†all around.

When I first arrived in Reykjavik, I was surprised at how modern¬†the city was, while still being so‚Ķquaint, I guess? It was a bustling¬†metropolis, with shops and bars and restaurants on every street.¬†I definitely preferred the open landscapes of Iceland to the city life though.¬†Some of the most bizarre things I saw in Iceland were the freestanding¬†rocks out in the ocean, like at Reynisdrangar Beach, as well as the glacial¬†lagoon with icebergs floating all around, and the canyon we visited at the¬†end of our trip, called Fja√įr√°rglj√ļfur Canyon. Iceland itself is just crazy¬†bizarre in every way.

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Eric Albee:

At the beginning of trip, you spent time in Iceland’s largest city. The images you¬†posted of Reykjav√≠k showed the colorful buildings and its beauty. How would you¬†contrast this area with other cities that you’ve traveled to in the past? When you
were in this city, what did you do on your average day?

Whitney Justesen:

Reykjavik was an interesting city, to say the least. It wasn’t¬†like most of the European cities I have visited in the past, as it was much¬†more modern and colorful. There was street art on almost every large wall¬†in the city. The citizens were well-dressed, fair, and impeccably beautiful.¬†Also, there were cats everywhere haha. Even though it was different from¬†most cities I have visited, I felt comfortable. I liked it.

On an average day in Reykjavik, we got up, went to the coffee shop up the road called Reykjavik Roasters, and just explored the city. We stopped into¬†shops and looked at sweaters and talked to the shopkeepers. We ate at a¬†little vegan-vegetarian restaurant called Graen Kostur (I think I butchered¬†that spelling) and explored the gigantic church in the city center. We took¬†pictures. We got excited for all the places we would soon be visiting on our¬†journey. Reykjavik was a good base for us, but I couldn’t have stayed the¬†entire time there. There‚Äôs too much to see in the rest of the country.

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Eric Albee:

On Tumblr you posted a series of photos titled “From where I stood“. The¬†series included six images taken downward towards your feet at various places¬†along the trip. This set has received over 3,000 notes on Tumblr and is steadily¬†increasing. The images almost connect the viewer with the areas that you visited.¬†Could you tell us a little about the series and locations featured in them?

Whitney Justesen:

It‚Äôs now got over 10,000 notes, thank you ūüėČ Haha¬†No, but it was actually a series that I didn’t originally have planned at all,¬†but it sort of came to me while I was in Iceland. There‚Äôs a photographer I¬†studied about in my History of Photography class a few years back that¬†liked to include the very tips of his feet in his images, as a way to say ‚ÄúI¬†was here.‚ÄĚ That was my way of documenting the fact that I was there in¬†Iceland, and I guess Tumblr caught on to it ūüôā Thanks internet?

Eric Albee:

At Sk√≥gafoss¬†you wrote about being left breathless by the power of nature.¬†The variance in locations is astounding and the size of these wonders is enough¬†to make a person’s jaw drop. You have photographs with icebergs, giant fields,¬†moss-covered canyons, dark rock caverns, and it’s all on one island. With that¬†said, can you describe some of the scenery you experienced and the powers of¬†nature that you saw?

Whitney Justesen:

Oh man. I have thought about this a thousand times since returning from Iceland, and each time I try to put it into words, I am left speechless. Nature, in its purest state, is monumental and powerful. It can be dangerous too, and we saw so much that would have scared a lot of people. Luckily (or maybe unfortunately), I have never been one to shy away from perilous places.

I couldn’t leave the glacial lagoon without¬†standing on an iceberg; I couldn’t leave Reynisdrangar Beach without¬†running past the violent, gigantic waves to shoot in the cave on the other¬†side; I couldn’t visit the canyon without standing on one of those¬†freestanding rocks. I might be crazy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.¬†Iceland provided us with this crazy, strange, beautiful amusement park that¬†is an absolute photographer‚Äôs paradise, and we all loved it so much.

Sweetheart, what have you done

Eric Albee:

Adventure is Out There” was a photograph that you took at Svartifoss¬†Waterfall. The image features the three of you facing away from the camera and¬†towards the water. Many of your images from Iceland are styled in a similar way.¬†Your close and intimate portraits suddenly changed to something more distant.¬†Your subjects were no longer close and the images seemed to take on their¬†subject’s environment. Was there a particular theme or emotion that you trying to¬†convey through these postures and sudden change in style?

Whitney Justesen:

I have a lot of friends who take photos in a similar way‚ÄĒ¬†Lizzy, for example. I think it‚Äôs a way to connect humanity with nature. For¬†her, it‚Äôs a way to show that we as humans are so small in comparison to¬†the world, and yet we each have worth and importance. I wish to share a¬†similar sentiment, but I think for me, it‚Äôs also a way to show that humans¬†are so fascinated by the natural world, and we can blend so seamlessly
with it.

We were created from the dust of the earth, and we are a part of this world. We can either learn to love and appreciate it, or we can go on with life focusing on ourselves and our own interests. For me, I choose the former. Life is beautiful, nature is powerful, and I want to spend my life appreciating the fact that it is here for us to experience it. These photos I take of people (and myself) looking out onto the world are my way of showing how important it is to appreciate life and all its wonders.

AdventureisoutthereEric Albee:

In this image (above) you thanked Vanguard Photo USA for contributing
supplies for your trip. These included tripods and other equipment. What were¬†some of the unique challenges to taking photographs in such a raw environment?¬†In the past you’ve posted funny out-takes where you’ve tripped or otherwise had¬†to retake a photograph. Do you feel that you were better ready for this¬†adventure?

Whitney Justesen:

Haha I had completely forgotten about the photo I posted once where I tripped right in the middle of taking a photo…man now I can’t
stop laughing haha.

Anyways, *wipes tears away*, as I said, Iceland was actually one of the
easiest places to take photos I have ever visited.

The reason I say that is because, a) there was absolutely no one around for miles in many places we visited. It made it easy to just focus in on the photographic process, without worrying about people seeing you, judging you, etc.

The other¬†reason it was easy was because b), duh, it‚Äôs Iceland‚ÄĒanywhere you¬†pointed your camera is a gorgeous shot haha. I mean really the only thing¬†that was a struggle for me was taking photos that I felt captured the¬†essence and beauty of those locations. I didn‚Äôt want the concepts or the¬†outfits or the poses to clash with the natural beauty I saw, and I wanted my¬†photos to complement it, not distract from it.

Eric Albee:

For a week you traveled on Ring Road (also known as Route 1) around Iceland. It circles the entire island and connects many of the places that you visited during your trip. The road is notoriously small and unpaved in certain patches. Many of nights that week you spent camping. What was the average day like during this time? What was it like sleeping in wild and open Iceland at night?

Whitney Justesen:

Traveling around the Ring Road was definitely a defining experience on our journey through Iceland. We drove along Fjords and across volcanic landscapes, through snowy mountain passes and beside gigantic waterfalls. We spent those few days driving as much as we could, seeing as much as we could, until we got too tired to go any further. Then, we would find a suitable place to camp for the night, and we would pitch our
tent.

Now, honestly, I’m not the world’s best camper. If I’m cold, I get grumpy, and I don’t like sleeping on the hard ground if I don’t have to. I don’t like bugs and I don’t like large wild animals coming too close for comfort in the middle of the night. The times I’ve camped in the past haven’t always been ideal, and so to say I was worried about camping in the middle of nowhere in freezing Iceland would be an understatement.

However, to my surprise, I actually came to like camping while I was there, a lot more than I had in the past. We always found relatively soft ground to sleep on, our tent was warm and we all had enough blankets to keep us from freezing, and apparently in Iceland, there are no wild and dangerous animals to worry about. It was probably my best camping experience up until that point in my life, for sure.

Hopefully in the future I‚Äôll be able to take these camping experiences and¬†apply them. I‚Äôll be better at camping from now on, I promise ūüėČ

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Eric Albee:

On Instagram you posted an image where you stood on the side of a¬†mountain. You wrote about being struck with a sudden clarity of your life. In that¬†moment you understood why things happened and why others didn’t. After¬†returning home, how do you think these moments of clarity have affected you?¬†How do you feel that traveling to Iceland has changed you both artistically and as¬†a person?

Whitney Justesen:

My honest belief is that everything does happen for a reason. Now, I’m not sure how much I believe in destiny, but I do believe that we do not end up on certain paths by mistake. As I was standing on that mountain, I was reflecting on the experiences in my life that had brought me to that point. I have been through some difficult times and
nasty heartbreaks, but I believe those experiences led me to that moment,
to that feeling of peace and understanding.

Iceland changed me in many ways. I am still the same person I have always been of course, but it gave me a new outlook on life, a new appreciation for the beauty of the world, and of course, it strengthened my friendships. Everything is always changing these days, but I will always have those moments on my travels to look back on, and remember the way I felt. I know now that whatever happens in the future, whatever gut-wrenching trials I have to go through, it will always lead me to where I’m supposed to be.

Eric Albee:

Many people complain about the difficulties associated with traveling while simultaneously having a deep desire for visiting faraway places. Common struggles to hear about included budgeting, making time, and having a fear of going to a brand new place. If you had to give advice about overcoming these difficulties, what would say? In your own travels, what struggles do you face and how do you overcome them?

Whitney Justesen:

Traveling isn‚Äôt easy. I mean, if you‚Äôre a millionaire, maybe it¬†is‚ÄĒbut not when you‚Äôre a young adult just out of college. (Or give or take a¬†few years). There are many things I have had to give up in order to travel as¬†much as I have in the past year or so.

I‚Äôve never really had fears about going to new places, so I can‚Äôt speak for¬†that one in particular, but I have faced the challenge of budgeting and¬†making time for travel. I rarely have a lot of money in my bank account ‚ÄĒ¬†often I make a good sum of money from a client gig or something, and then¬†I immediately spend it on a plane ticket. But, luckily, I have always had¬†enough to get by.

It’s important to make sure you budget your travel wisely, as we tried to do on our Icelandic journey. It doesn’t always work out exactly like you have planned, but it’s important to budget as much as you can. I would hate to be stuck in some foreign country without money :O I also firmly believe that people should make travel a priority, if they can.

Everybody needs to get away from the stresses of everyday life once in a¬†while, and we can all benefit so much from seeing new places and¬†experiencing new ways of life. Even if it‚Äôs small road trips or day trips, it‚Äôs¬†always a great idea to get away as often as you are able to‚ÄĒeven if it‚Äôs just¬†for the day.

Photos

Eric Albee:

On the Kickstarter campaign, Rob Woodcox, Elizibeth Gadd, and you¬†ventured out to “be an example to others that artists can truly thrive and create¬†anything they can dream”. Since returning do you feel that you’ve accomplished¬†this goal? On a personal level, do you feel more satisfied as a freelance artist by¬†having gone on this journey?

Whitney Justesen:

I personally think we accomplished this goal above and¬†beyond our expectations. I hope that we were able to show people that¬†nothing is out of reach if you truly want it, as Iceland was a dream of each¬†of ours. We wanted to travel to a foreign country, one that was unfamiliar to¬†all of us, and we wanted to create new work and new personal series‚Äô‚ÄĒand¬†I can say without question that we each did just that. Everybody can live¬†their dreams if they truly desire to do so, and sometimes all it takes is a¬†first step in the right direction.

Personally, I feel more fulfilled and satisfied with myself as an artist than I have in years following this journey. I have proven to myself that I can make big things happen, and that I can live the life I desire to. Iceland truly was the journey of a lifetime, and I will never forget the memories I made there.

Eric Albee:

Thank you Whitney for documenting such an amazing adventure and taking us along with you. Viewing your work is always a pleasure and I appreciate your time and wisdom. I look forward to where you go in the future and wish you safe travels wherever that may be.

Whitney Justesen:

Thank you Eric ūüôā

TheFathomlessSurrender

_________________

If you are looking to view more of Whitney’s journey to Iceland, the links to her¬†websites are posted below:

Facebook
Flickr
Website
Instagram
Blog
Travel blog

 

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Variety is the Spice of Life

When I was a little kid, I remember only liking two foods – mac ‘n cheese and mashed potatoes. Everything else was strange and foreign. I felt like I could choke down a new food but I couldn’t imagine eating other foods regularly. Potatoes and noodles were the staple food of my youth.

It wasn’t until I traveled to Spain that my palette changed. Suddenly I was living in a new culture and had to conform to the diet – which consisted mostly of fish. Where I stayed they didn’t know what mac ‘n cheese was and mashed potatoes were a rarity. So the more I ate fish, the more I grew to the taste. After trying it, I could try other foods and expand further.

The change wasn’t immediate when I got home though. Most of my diet remained the same as it was before. Over time my tastes expanded with each place I went. Things that I didn’t enjoy at all, like raw tomatoes and avocados, became a huge part of my diet.

When I moved out last year, I left home and my family’s cooking. Not only did I leave having access to a kitchen, I left my part of the country. Foods native to Minnesota (are there even any?) were much less prominent in Texas and Mississippi. I was forced to change my diet.

When I finally got out to Charleston, South Carolina I realized that I have become a total foodie. Going downtown is like an adventure trying to find the best restaurant. Finding a new atmosphere and a new climate has become exciting and fun rather than stressful.

As I look back at myself, I realize that my taste preference wasn’t the only thing that changed. I’ve come to know that “variety is the spice of life”. There’s so much joy in new experience and new things.

When we only eat apples, we don’t know what an orange tastes like. We can’t understand why people make a funny face when they eat a lemon or cry while handling onions. We don’t know how deep a cheese can taste or how flavorful raspberries are.

By restricting ourselves to doing the same things repeatedly, we miss out on all the wonderful things life has to offer. Yesterday I was at a music store and started a conversation with a stranger about some bands I love. It turns out that she was into the exact same bands as I was. We spent the next half an hour talking about new bands to listen to and being giddy about the ones we loved. My life was so richer sharing that experience with her.

For the past month I’ve been going downtown to various new places that people recommend to me. One of the places I ran across was a bakery. I originally went there for bread but I found out that they have a lot of odd products you can’t find other places. Since finding it, I’ve tried sun-dried tomato bread, yogurt-soda, sesame seed bars, and drinks make from aloe vera plants. Each item was a brand new experience and an exhilaration.¬†Each time I went, I’ve run across the same baker who laughs and smiles at my craziness.

I know that being adventurous is contagious and I think that all humans crave experience. Some just have a self-imposed barriers – fears they think they face alone. We fear being rejected by new people, going to places we’ve never been, and trying new things. Everyone faces them.

Why? Because we don’t understand that part of the experience is that occasional rejection. Almost spurting yogurt-soda out your car window because it tastes so horrible. Having a great story to tell when you get lost in the ginormous Paris airport. Vlogging in public and having people jump into the back of your videos.

The thing is, I can’t push you over your fears. I can’t make you realize how much it’s worth it to conquer them. That’s something only you can figure out yourself. I can only tell you that variety is the spice of life and living with just salt and pepper is a boring way to live. If you’ve only got 80 years to live, then what are you waiting for?

Go try sushi for the first time, I did that last month. Buy plane tickets to that country you’ve always wanted to see. Talk to that person you like because life begins outside of your comfort zone. And who knows, maybe that person likes you too. You’ll never know if you don’t try.

In the comments, tell me something you’ve always wanted to do but have been too afraid to try.

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Content with where I’m at

For the first time in a long time I feel content.

This week has been a rollar coaster of emotion and it concluded well this weekend hanging out with friends. Yesterday I got out and visited Folly Beach to shoot some photos for the first time in a year. I can’t believe it’s been a year since I’ve done any pictures. It’s just hard for me to believe that something that was such a part of my life just disapeared for a year. Taking photos yesterday filled some void within me.

The friend I was hanging out with yesterday brings a joyous energy I wish I could give more of to the world. Being in her prescence is uplifting and I’m appreciative of our friendship. We laughed, we cried, we vlogged, and tried new food. It was a bit of a drive but it was something I needed after such a long week.

Today I went downtown with another really good friend to show him some of the places I’ve grown to love. Even though it was Easter, most of downtown was completely opened. We wandered, we tried food and got stuffed on desserts. Earthbound supplied me with a miniature Buddha and a box with the symbol “om” engraved on the top. My friend got some large canvas prints for his walls and we had a good time.

Looking at my 365, I’ve been in Chaleston for 40 days already and I feel like I’ve moved in. I’m no longer moving around the country and I’m able to somewhat settle down. I’m in a new town, with new people, moving along with my life. It’s only a couple more months until my 20th birthday but I feel like an adult now. I feel at home, I feel centered with my life.

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Another Charleston Evening


After a long Saturday evening I’m ready to sleep in Sunday morning! I spent the evening with one of my good friends exploring Charleston even further. We found a fantastic pizza place off the main roads and saw Captain America (The Winter Soldier).

The movie was great! Sebastian Stan didn’t have as much of a role as I anticipated but Chris Evans was perfect. I won’t spoil anything for you but you should definitely go out and see it. It was better than Avengers and about par with Ironman 3!

Sorry for the late night post but I spent so much of my evening out then editing video to post on here for you guys! I hope you all are having a wonderful weekend!

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Exploring Folly Beach

Last weekend my family was in town and we got out to Folly Beach, South Carolina! It was beautiful weather and a great place to hang out for our last full day together. We spent the day taking pictures, walking around, and getting great food!

I’ve realized now that so much of my passion comes from creating! Whether the content be great or less, I enjoy producing work. Editing in Premier is still a beast but I’m starting to tame it. Slowly but surely, I’ll learn how to vlog!

It was also fantastic opening Photoshop back up and editing in something that I’m familiar in. It’s almost intuitive with how used to Photoshop I got over the years. Below the video are a few pictures that I took of my sister and dad while we were on the beach!

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