So excited about this! My two roommates loaded up the Honda Element during yesterday’s flurries to teach me the basics of backcountry skiing and snowboarding, a discipline of the sport this southerner has only ever dreamed of...let the games begin!
Made it to Vermont!
Naturally, had to soak in my first beautiful sunset back at one of my favorite spots, Charlotte Beach. (Pronounced: Char—lot, like "parking lot. Idk, apparently it's French). The dancing duo of Lake Champlain in the foreground and the Adirondacks in the background never gets old. In awe as I'm beginning to call this place home again.
An early autumn morning along the Floodwall Park in downtown Richmond, VA : Perfect recipe for an engagement shoot.
Having met in college, Jake and Robin began dating their senior year and are have committed their lives to serving the people and surrounding communities of Richmond; Jake as a teacher in a local elementary school and Robin as a master's student in Social Work. Between Jake's music and Robin's poetry, the duo have also built up a rolodex of creativity and talent.
Having the pleasure of getting to know these two fun and sincere souls and over the past year has been incredible and wish them the very best for the future. Congrats you two!
(A collection of a few favorites from our shoot):
Considering popping the question soon, or still grinning ear-to-ear from your recent engagement? Let's chat!
Tomorrow morning, I move to Burlington, Vermont. Full-time.
If you've followed me for a while, you know that I've moved around a lot these past few years for various schools, internships, and gigs. But this move is different. This time, I'm not setting up a tent. Rather, I'm digging the footings and laying the concrete for a new solid foundation.
It's interesting to me that I landed on Vermont. Last summer I scored my dream internship up there and wasn't sure I'd ever return. (Here were my thoughts from that time. I'd say we've come a long way.)
Logistically speaking, Burlington checks a lot of boxes for me. Shred scene, art scene, mountain town, tight community, incredible landscapes, bangin' sunsets...but I was never emotionally drawn back to Burly. (Which, for me, is a big deal). Attached to it? Maybe, in a weird way. But a fear of missing out on a life up there? No way.
Sure, the Northeast is very different than where I grew up in the Southeast, (duh, I mean, no Chick-fil-a, still bitter about this lol), but I believe that this lack of intensity and density pulling me back to Vermont has created the space and freedom I need to press into and be molded by something new, something uncomfortable, something extraordinary, and something bigger than myself.
Currently, the two things on the table eagerly waiting to be discovered are:
- What my career as a graphic designer looks like.
- What my roles and contributions in this city will be.
I mean, who knows how long my life in the upper-right-corner-of-the-US will be, but after returning from Australia and spending a long summer exploring through old landscapes and the growing pains of freelancing, I am ecstatic to get this fire roaring, day by day.
So, (besides my family of course), these images showcase two things I'll miss most about my home and growing up on six ten colony trail: the Chickahominy River and my doggies.
This dude is the next Travis Propst, I'm calling it.
Josh has been single handily pushing wakeboarding here in Lanexa, VA. Seeing this guy progress alone in our small town with no wakeboard community is so awesome. His continued passion and drive for the sport in such an isolated environment is inspiring and a breath of fresh air from the industry saturation in Florida. Keep at it brother!
Oh yea, Solar Eclipse 2k17 baby!
Couldn't forget to break out the camera this afternoon (which also doubled as a shield for my eyeballs).
Here in Virginia we didn't get the full effect, but pretty dang close to it!
Despite my very basic camera gear, mother nature pulled through with some light cloud cover here and there, which actually helped crisp up some of these shots and pull in a spooky vibe!
Super crazy experiencing this today. Will be cool to tell the future about one day.
Here's what I saw today.
12:51pm — 1:38pm
This is not okay.
This has to stop.
Woah, what a trip.
May 28 - June 11
Top to Bottom, my dear friend Simon Watrous and I drove down the entire country of New Zealand.
Wake up and pack up
Get get coffee and eat breaky
Drive a few hours to the daily destination
Hike something freaking massive
Stuff our faces with Tim Tams
Find a hostel
Places We Went:
Such an insane country. 98% of the time, my eyes were wide and my jaw was dropped. I'll be back one day for sure, mark my words.
Collection of Video Clips (including bungee jumping):
May 19, 2017 - Graduation day at Shillington College in Melbourne, Australia.
From our first brief to portfolio week, and all the tears (I mean beers) in between, we f*cking made it!
And after drowning in graphic design for 585 hours, pixels came to life and these strangers became my family.
Love y'all and miss y'all!
Canon with Kodak TRI-X 400 film
Don't say it...
Unfortunately my time in Australia has come to a close.
But what a ride!
I came to Melbourne in hopes of laying a foundation for a lifelong pursuit towards design, and ended up with more life lessons and friendships than expected. As many great things do, this chapter flew by, leaving behind what feels like a dream.
A few things I lost count of:
- $5 souvlaki orders
- long black espressos
- trains missed
- podcasts played
- terrible designs
- command + z's
- better designs
- belly laughs (I'm looking at you Kate Mack!)
- happy hours
- heel flips
- tim tams
- beautiful people
- and of course, beautiful art
This city has successfully stolen my heart (and my bank account).
A big fat thank you to Joel Cogger for opening his home to me, showing me the ropes, and welcoming this stranger into his life.
For my final hours down under, My two best mates Miguel Lugtu and Belle Perez took me on one last lap through the neighborhood streets, a road trip to the Werribee Zoo, a sunset gaze at Bell's Beach, and a weekend mission to Byron Bay (all pictured below).
While my future remains a WIP, what I do know is that I'll be returning to the states mid-june.
Until then, I'll be busting around New Zealand with my hometown lad Simon Watrous! Stoked to be in kiwi territory checking out some of the world's most insane terrain. Stay tuned.
Also, a psa: I'll be launching a new site soon featuring my graphic design portfolio I made here in Melbourne! SO pumped to share, and click on my friends names' above to see their portfolios! So much talent.
Cheers, see you soon 'merica
Last weekend, I slipped away from the cafes of Melbourne to explore the coastlines of Sydney. My first time. I decided to do it that morning, and by dinner time, was on a flight headed for my Airbnb. Party of one.
I knew I had to see Sydney before leaving this country, but was not expecting to experience such a beautiful city! It reminded me of my recent visit to San Diego. Clusters of neighborhoods and the smell of sea salt in the air. Public Parks and Beaches are the same thing. Oh, and good coffee per usual.
All on Saturday, I started with a sunrise walk from Coogee Beach to Bondi Beach, spent the afternoon browsing the city, then ended with a sunset cruise through the famous Harbour and around the Opera House. 11/10 would recommend (thanks for the itinerary tips Laura!)
Despite the jam packed weekend and last minute planning, Sydney proved to be a very relaxing and refreshing solo trip. Just in time to crank on the heat to build my final Shillington graphic design portfolio. (And, because its getting freezing cold here in Melbourne).
Here are some of my favorite shot from the weekend
No, it's not what you think. Every race and ethnicity was included.
White Night was an event put on by the City of Melbourne about a month ago. The mission was to light up the entire city for a whole night with elaborate and creative light displays 'til the sun came up. There were huge projection art pieces on the city's most iconic buildings, amazing street performances, garden displays, a few political protests, and of course, great food.
I had school the next morning so I couldn't stay late for the really cool stuff, but I still brought my camera along and used my wide lens to capture some street photography of the people and the chaos erupting the city streets here in Oz.
(Disclaimer: Apologies for the insane amount of grain on these photos. Completely forgot my flash and relied way too much on a high ISO.) Regardless, enjoy!
Yes, fun fact: the locals pronounce "Melbourne" like "Mel-ben". I don't get it. But, it sounds like my name, which is kinda fun. Anyways.
I've successfully moved to Melbourne, Australia! And it has been love at first sight.
The weather is on point, the people are friendly, the food is fantastic, and the culture is contagious. Locals describe this place as a mix of Vancouver, London, and San Francisco. And that it is! Only, a tad smaller than all those places.
I live in a cool neighborhood just a quick train ride away from the city called Northcote (pronounced: Northkit. Again, I don't get it). Known for its cafes and views of the city, Northcote is a solid spot to call home.
Here are some things I'm learning. The coffee scene here is no laughing matter and you only order by variations of espresso, not by pour-over. Australia loves to use coins. So many coins. The two dollar coins are especially hard to keep track of. I once thought I knew what asian food tasted like, but the quality here is next level! Grade school students have strict and intense dress codes. Skateboarders are respected, and the elderly will even come to the skatepark to socialize. Graffiti is legal and even encouraged in some places. And the city is super active and into their sports. AKA: the Australian Football League. Look it up, it's intense.
In addition, here are a few of my favo(u)rite sayings so far:
- "mate": (obviously), but NOBODY says "g'day mate!"
- "dodgy": a really bad job or something that lacks full potential
- "rubbish": just like they say in the UK
- "jumper": a sweater or light jacket
- "so yum": when something tastes good
- "heaps": a lot, usually in a positive manner
- "how are you going?": instead of "how are you doing?"
- "reckon": I suppose, I think, for sure
- "esky": short for eskimo - a cooler or ice chest
Oh, and the whole reason I moved here...school. In short: Shillington Graphic Design School has surpassed my expectations and I'm learning more than I ever thought I would, in the perfect setting, surrounded by inspiring people. None of the bullshit from traditional school and all the benefits from an insiders perspective of the industry. (More to come in the future).
With that said, school is my life. Although Australia seems a bit like a honeymoon phase, behind the scenes I'm actually incredibly busy and don't have any time to do much.
And God bless my roommate Joel. He not only opened up his home to me, a total stranger, but has taken me under his wing to show me Melbourne through the eyes of a well-seasoned local. And cheers to his girlfriend Ella for befriending me as well.
Here are some pictures I took on my first day exploring the city! Still HEAPS more to do in these streets and not all iconic spots are pictured. More to see and more to come.
Dec 27, 10:32am: jmarttogo - "Wanna drive to SD with me?"
Dec 27, 10:34am: benventurer - "Yes sir, let's do it!"
My homie Jonathan made the move from Washington DC to San Diego, CA and I had the privilege of embarking on my first cross country road trip with him!
Traveling with us were Brandon Harvey podcasts, Enneagram test results, Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supremes, Chase Blood telegrams, the southwest state capitals children's song, mini 2oz bottles of whiskey, a leaf from Herndon-VA, an ever-expanding Tuft&Needle mattress, and my two disposable cameras.
The trip took us four days.
We stopped in Nashville-TN, Amarillo-TX, Phoenix-AZ, and finally San Diego-CA. The tires of the ole Mazda mobile rolled along Interstate 40 for about 99% of the trip.
I'd been to some of these places before, like Texas and California, but never the random ass places in between. Regardless of how interesting or uninteresting the places actually were, there's something special about standing in towns I'd never heard of and looking at people I never knew existed. (Below, you'll see photos of Baristas along the way that kept our bodies fueled up!)
It truly was a bucket-list-trip-of-a-lifetime.
Magnificent sunsets, vast desert mountains, breathtaking sand dunes, eerie wind turbines, and even Carrie Underwood's hometown.
Be sure to hit up Jmart in his new home town if you happen to be in (or know someone) in the area too! Godspeed amigo on this new life journey.
Within a few months, two of my closest friends proposed to their amazing girlfriends. Though it felt a bit like watching a chick flick on mute, I've never experienced such heavy emotion THAT had nothing to do with me ahah.
That moment when your friends become your brothers (or sisters), their burdens become your burdens. AND, their joys become your joys. These were those true joy moments.
Jake Ruefer & Moriah Brillhart
David Lane & Mary Melissa O'neill
Many blessings to both of these incredible couples. Love y'all!
a deviation from the stigmas and stereotypes.
a salutation to the romance within action sports.
a reflection of the badass culture from an elegant eye.
a collection of the places and people ordinary to ben johnston.
snowboarding. skateboarding. wakeboarding.
For my final project in ART 260 - Film Photography, I decided to showcase a unique characteristic about myself: my love affair with action sports.
And that it truly is.
The board sport culture is cliched as a rock and roll hell raising lifestyle. But that's not how I see it. My participation in these sports is a dance and a romance.
It's beautiful. And to me, it's emotional.
So, my goal with this photo project was to try and capture and share my love story through a clean and minimal approach, from my home in each disciple...
- SNOWBOARDING - Snowflex: Lynchburg, VA
- WAKEBOARDING - Jibtopia: Semora, NC
- SKATEBOARDING - Westover: Harrisonburg, VA
The Big Apple.
Jonathan and I recently spent 30 hours wandering around New York City.
Some things that were involved:
- freedom tower
- the oculus & 9/11 memorial
- graphic designers
- the yotel
- brooklyn bridge park
As soon as we got to the city, I bought two rolls of film. Which may not make a whole lot of sense when I have a nice Canon DSLR.
The truth is, I've preferred taking my film camera on trips over my digital camera. (Don't tell that to my cameras. They already don't get along.)
When I'm only given 36 exposures in a city as large as NYC, my mind switches from tourist to artist.
Instead of taking pictures for documentation, I take pictures for aesthetic. It's a process of searching for what is beautiful and eye-catching rather than simply freezing a moment in time.
The best part about the process of shooting with film? When you find something super cool to take a pic of and you look through the viewfinder, you have to make a decision.
Is the shot worth it?
Will the image I capture be worth a spot amongst the other 36 exposures on the roll of film? Is the shot framed exactly the way I would want to showcase my subject? Oh, and is the camera properly exposed?!
These decisions tell the world what you, as a photographer, define as eye-catching. What you define as beauty. What you define as art.
And art is not a simple definition.
I've decided to spend my last semester of college taking classes that help me explore this realm of thought, including a film photo class. (Aka: more film pics coming your way!)
And while I'm finishing up my time here at JMU...
...(drum roll please)...
This guy (oh, back to Jonathan), will be studying graphic design at his new home here in NYC!
So here are some of the pics from the trip. I'd say Jmart wears New York pretty well.
Last week, I took a solo trip into Montreal.
Yea, that's Canada.
My current residing place in Burlington, VT is only 1hr 30min away. Perfect for a day trip. Despite how close the city is, I've never encountered such a drastic culture shock in such a short amount of time.
One word... French.
Montreal is the largest city located in the Quebec Province of Canada, and it is definitely French-Canadian. After I passed through customs and into Canada, I felt like I was back on my Spring Break European trip with Phil and Tobi. The road signs, the weather, and the landscapes were total deja vu, kilometer after kilometer.
And I loved it! Sure my Virginia license plates stood out a bit and speed limits were a bit confusing, but man what a rush.
Entering a city for the first time is always exciting, especially with a camera in hand. I build up an extreme fascination with designs, shapes, and structures that I don't normally encounter everyday. Usually these are not very interesting for working locals or busy tourists, but I like to think that everything in a city was created by someone with specific design decisions. For me it's like going to an art gallery, but one where people live and work in a harmonious relationship with their surroundings.
This solo trip was great for experiencing that.
Any of my friends and family that have traveled with me know that I tend to be on the slower side. I'm always playing catchup with the group and leaving them asking where I went or when we can we move on. Well, when you're by yourself, there's no rush!
I literally just parked my car and walked around the city for hours and hours. Got some French coffee, incredible food, and with the help of Google, circled around most of the city. And to top it off, skated a few local parks!
Here are a few spots that stood out to me as I ventured around.
The point of all of this is to hopefully encourage you to see the world from a new lens (or an old lens if you're broke like me and can't quite buy new camera gear). Photos or not, city or country, the hard work of honest and talented humans is beautiful. Be on the lookout for it. It is everywhere and constantly evolving.
May 9 - May 19
Four Pals + California
Those were the plans. Head west and enjoy.
Vegas, Mammoth, Yosemite, San Francisco, Morro Bay, Newport Beach, Pasadena, Joshua Tree, Grand Canyon, and back to Vegas.
But what we found was much different than just a high-speed race around the west coast. The theme of the trip became centered around friendship instead of destinations. Enjoying time with each other before moving away and getting jobs. Celebrating the changing seasons of our lives. Meeting old friends and making new ones along the way.
Granted, after driving 3,000+ miles in a hot-sweaty rental car together, community isn't much of a choice. But, they were some of the best moments of my life.
See for yourself.
Below is a short film I put together to recap the entire trip (lens smudges and all). For an appetizer, here are some quotes from the trip that didn't make the cut.
- “I’ve never been to Colorado, but I imagine it looking like this…green and tan.” - Phil
- “Yea you can make that jump…phil, no no, do the big boy jump, you can do it.” - Ben
- “Hey look what I found, it’s a switch blade…we should keep it.” - Tyler
- “Hey Ben watch out there’s a car coming” - Tyler
- “Watch out, I’m throwing a rock at you.” -Phil
- “Phil no, no Phil” - Tyler
- “Ugh, I’m so ugly.” - David
- “Jimmy joop joop!” - David
- “Hey, there’s hazardous cliffs over here!” … “perfect” - Tyler and Phil
- “Phil, stop killing nature, you’re on film.” - Ben
- “I’m gonna die, I don’t know how to stop this thing!” - Tyler
- “YEEHAW PEEPAW!” - Everyone, all the time
- “Ah look at you, you’re a surfer! Ahhh” - David
- “Gotta have your hands free, it’s called the two hand technique…illegal in 12 states” - Phil
- “You filming me sleeping?” - Phil
- “Get a shot of my veins.” - Phil
- “Can we listen to KYGO’s new album now?” - Phil
- “Do something stupid-er, you look too normal” - Ben
- “Am I gonna be famous on the YouTubues?” - Jmart
- “This is chapstick”… “Yea you put that on sometimes” - Phil and David
- “Why are these people rich? What’d they do?” - Phil
- “Infrastructure? I hardly know her…” - Jmart
- “I bet there’s food in all these trucks” - Tyler
- “Ahh, yerrr uhhh gotta pee’n her butt! - David
- “Mountains and trees, mountains and trees! I’m tired of it!” - Phil
- “Yep, this just tastes like a Miller beer” - David
- “That was the girliest throw I’ve ever seen.” - Ben to Phil
- “Doop bop stop baa boo bee bop pop scoop poop” - David
Now sit back, relax, and enjoy our shenanigans!