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Case of the Fridays – Expedition Leader Lee Goldman

Welcome to my new feature, “Case of the Fridays.”

I decided to start this project based off  the feedback I regularly receive both here & on my Facebook page regarding my lifestyle.  I strongly believe that life should be an adventure and your career should be something you are excited about.  I can’t tell you how frustrating it feels to hear someone say, “I’m jealous of your lifestyle” or “you’re so lucky you get to do this for a living.”

It’s not luck.  ’You’ make the bed that ‘you’ sleep in. I think it should be damn-well comfortable!

So what I’ve created with this feature is an inside look at the lives of individuals who’ve inspired me by the way they’ve shaped their lifestyles and careers.  In these interviews, I’ll ask them about how they got started and what it takes to maintain their careers – as well as what effects their lifestyles have on their long-term vision (dating, family, kids, etc).  At the end of the interview, I ask each person if they’re willing to respond to questions from readers or anyone interested in getting involved in their area of expertise.

I hope you guys get a lot out of this – the world is at your fingertips!

 

Expedition Leader

 

My first interview for this series is Lee.  I met Lee during an expedition he led out in the Papua/New Guinea region via live-aboard boat (blog post coming in 2 weeks).  Lee has traveled the world and seen some of the most amazing scenery one can possibly have access to throughout their lifetime.  He’s taken a lot of risks and traveled on one-way tickets to parts unknown, and I think he has a lot to share from his experiences.

Without further delay, here’s the interview I had with him while I was adventuring out in the Asian-Pacific.

(Here’s a photo to give you a visual of what the environment was like during our interview)

 

 

What is your name? 

Lee Goldman

 

What is your occupation?

Expedition Leader specializing in the Coral Triangle of the Asia-Pacific Region.

 

How long have you been doing what you currently do?

 12 years

 

What level of schooling have you completed?

Masters in Marine Bio, and planning on going back for a PhD.  I’d like something to fall back on.

 

Did you have a 9-5 job before that?

I guess you could say yes, I was switching between 9-5’s – mainly construction management, project engineer.  I didn’t find it challenging though, it just wasn’t something I wanted to do.

 

How did you become involved in the work that you currently do?

After college, I became a dive instructor because I was always interested in the Marine environment.  Moved to the Florida Keys – it was almost a ‘right of passage’ for instructors to work in the marine environment in that area.

1995 was a year with horrendous hurricanes, & the reality of being a dive guide at that age and those conditions, you’re not making a lot of money.  So I had an opportunity to open a dive shop in BC – went up there & worked it for a couple years…found that I really loved the tropical environment (you could dive the same area every day and see something different…and the warm water was also great)

At an early age, NatGeo always enticed me with the Coral Triangle, but I never really had the means to get out there.  So I went to a dive show called DIMA – found some people that were working out in this part of the world.  Met a guy with a place out here that I could stay, and he told me he would hire me.

My brother was having some tough times with family, and I had to pass on the initial opportunity in order to be there for him.  I still had my airline ticket (1-way), so I went to Guam and walked into a dive shop – gave them my credentials.  Went down to Palau and never went back (to Guam).

I met Ethan and Ron, two other guides that had already worked as established expedition leaders while in Palau.  Went and got my masters in Marine Bio in Guam, came back, and proposed the trip of doing Palau with Ron & Ethan vouching for me to submit to their company – Wilderness Travel, and it was a go!

 

What is it that you love about your work?

You get to meet great people, see some great things, I’m able to talk about the Marine Environment that I love to people that are interested in it.  I get to share my passion with others that are also enthused.  Maybe that’s why the Florida keys didn’t cut it…

 

What is your least favorite thing about your work?

Being away from the family.  I’m away about 5 months out of the year when you add up all the trips cumulatively.

 

Is there anything you miss about life back home?  (In the states)

Rita’s Italian Ice.  And pizza.

Living in this part of the world, one of the things I do miss is a bit of a stricter sense of order in society (paying attention to stop signs).  Open roads.  A wide open road, like the ones outside of Vegas you can do 90 on the freeway.  There aren’t many open roads here, and the ones that are – they’re in bad shape so you can’t speed.

 

What are some of the advantages of your job compared with the regular corporate career?

It’s a much more relaxed-paced life, I’m doing what I love and I know some corporate people can say that, however I get to see what most people go and do when they take a break from their job.

 

What are some of the disadvantages compared with the regular corporate career?

Not much opportunity to make more money, in kind of a weird way – the idea of going into work and knowing in your head that you only have a set amount of hours that you have to put in, then you get to go home and be with your family -that sounds nice.  Here I have to work 24/7 and be away from family for weeks at a time.  The “on/off switch” of working a normal job can be appealing.

 

How different is the dating scene for you?  Is it easier/harder to make time to be with your significant other?

It was actually pretty easy to meet girls – you’re living a glamourous life and ‘working’ in the area that most people dream to visit.  Most girls that I dated would just be coming through for a week or two, which was nice at the time that I was more into the dating scene.  I was also somewhat of a pseudo-celebrity being the only foreigner in the local scene, so that helped!  Haha

 

Do you tend to prefer to live paycheck to paycheck or with a savings plan accounted for?  Is your income predictable and regular, or entirely dependent on what you produce?

Well, I was paycheck to paycheck before I got married, but now with a wife & daughter – it’s savings based.  We find it’s more important to have no bills, and have a little money put away – rather than put away more, and have less bills.

 

How do you imagine your retirement, or lifestyle past 60?

Lounging somewhere in the Phillipenes, watching my daughter grow up.  Doing some sort of project though, I’ve got to do something.  Not sure what, but maybe a guide book or stay involved in the education on the Marine Environment in some way.

 

How much longer do you envision yourself working as an expedition leader?

Probably 5 more years at the most.  I know I’ll miss it dearly.

 

Do you see your career facilitating a lifestyle suitable for raising a family?

I would say no – when you’re working  you don’t see your family, however when you’re off – you can make it so that you have a lot more solid time with family when you are home.

 

What are your top priorities in the ‘big picture’? 

My daughter, my family.  Outside of my family, keeping an ear and an eye open to make sure I don’t miss opportunities for things I can do after this.  If there was such a thing as a tourism consultant, I’d love to develop programs for trips.

 

In your lifetime, what experiences are important to you?

When I was younger it was about having fun, then when I got older, it was about seeing the world, and now it’s about being able to provide a great tour and keep me in the top of my game.

 

If you had any advice to someone just graduating college or thinking about switching careers, what would it be?

First I would suggest they asked themselves if they’re ‘serious’ – most people aren’t, so don’t kill yourself thinking about it.

If you are, just DO IT.  It’s scary, but be scared.  It’s exciting.  There have been several times in my life that I’ve bought one way tickets, and I think it’s a great thing.  It was kind of a break from growing up in middle class life.  I wanted to do something on my own, where I could turn back and there’d be no one there to fall back on and look to for support.  I had to make it happen.  You’ll be a stronger person after it’s all said and done, regardless of what happens.

If you do something half ass & fail, you feel like you let yourself down.  And I’ve been there before – it’s a learning experience.

 

If someone wanted to do your job, what is important to maintain a position?

Innovate, and maintain a clientele that with stick with you, and lead great expeditions.

 

Who inspires you?

I’ve always gone against the system, growing up in a straight-laced town…ultimately I was in my rebellious phase when it came to my career.  When parents tell you “this or this” is what you’re supposed to do…

I read National Geographic and dreamed of doing this kind of work…with something that challenged me.  I could be a deckhand and see this kind of stuff, but it wouldn’t be enough.  I used to collect all the maps from all the destinations National Geographic used to cover and just study them.

Robert Lynn Nelson – he painted an amazing piece called sea of magic.  He captured “freedom and beauty”, which is what I wanted in my life.  I wanted to study killer whales, which represented freedom to me.  I realized they represented the ocean and all it’s amazingness, which is really what I wanted to study.

 

~FUN QUESTIONS~ 

 

What did you want to be when you want to be when you grew up?

An astronomer.  I loved reading science fiction when I was a kid.  Didn’t do it because there was too much math.

 

What is one of your favorite sounds?

My daughter laughing.

 

What’s your favorite memory from your past? 

When my wife and I were first dating, we would go out kayaking in some of the most beautiful places on earth.  I would be off-and-on back in town & it was great spending time with her.

 

If you were an animal, what kind of animal would you be, and why?

I’d be a killer whale.  They’re one of the most amazing organisms on this planet.  Apparent intelligence, surrounded by the environment that I love the most, and an apex preditor that no one fucks with.

 

What are some of your favorite smells?

Freshly cut grass, warm soft pretzels fresh out the oven.

 

If you were a character in a famous movie, who’s role would you play?

Denzel Washington’s character in Crimson Tide.  He made some of the toughest decisions of life & death when it comes to other people.  It takes some of the most tough and strong character to make those kind of decisions.  Indiana Jones never had to look at someone and decide whether or not they would live or die.

 

If you could go back to any point in history for a month, what time period would you visit?

I’ve always been impressed with Leonardo Da Vinci, Ben Franklin, and Alfred Wallace.  I’d have to go with Ben…I feel like you’d just get a sense of insight and enlightenment just being around the guy – seemed like he was a pretty intelligent and wise guy.

 

If there was one celebrity you’d like to punch in the face, who would it be?

I’d love to punch Bernie Madoff, anyone who affects so many people on such a negative personal and financial level, they deserve to get hit by a ton of people – and I’d like to be one of them.

 

If someone wanted to get in touch with you and ask you more about what it takes to get involved in your career, what would be the best way?

Email me at LJLExpeditions@gmail.com

 

On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to get back to them?

10.  I get back to everybody.  I still have guests write me from years back sending a photo of a fish they saw on a trip they’ve just gone on!

 

If you have any feedback for Lee or suggestions for future interviews, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

Rachel Julson - Saw this linked from your facebook page and just had to write to say THANK YOU! I understand the frustrating comments of “you’re so lucky to have this job!” and this interview was very eye opening and inspiring. I just bought my first one-way ticket to Switzerland, and am currently in the limbo between following my passions and having a steady income.. Keep these interviews coming, I’d love to read more!!January 21, 2013 – 11:50 pm

Rachel Ruffer - This is awesome, Tim. I definitely want to travel a LOT and am working towards that goal – thanks for inspiring people to do what they love! :)January 19, 2013 – 8:19 pm

Jackie VanHatten - Hey Tim! This is a great idea. It’s really inspiring and motivating. Hope life is well!January 18, 2013 – 3:35 pm

Alison Howard - Great interview, Tim! Super interesting to read Lee’s story. Thanks for sharing! :)January 18, 2013 – 6:27 am

Amazon Adventure

As I mentioned to you in my previous post, I came across a killer deal for airline tickets that was just too good to pass up.

So I bought two trips.  The first was to hike to Machu Picchu with my roommate David, and the second ‘to be determined’ by myself & two friends you may remember from my adventure in Iceland – Jason and Ryan.

And while Machu Picchu was an incredible display to witness, the concentration of tourists during that trip really affected my mindset.  I wasn’t able to completely feel removed from my ‘day to day’ life during that trip.  So on this adventure, we opted for something completely different.

Something REMOTE – out of the usual path of common travelers…something unique.

I’ve always wanted to visit the Amazon rainforest, and I’d received some conflicting advice from friends on “where to go” in order to experience it.  When it came down to it, there were two main options to decide between:

1.  Iquitos, Peru – a more well-known town in northern Peru and safe bet when it comes to seeing the Amazon.  Several people had recommended going here.  We’d have the opportunity to see pink dolphins, and there was more culture in the area for us to be able to learn about.

2.  Research lodge in the Tambopata National Reserve, Peru -  one of my ex-girlfriends lived in Peru for a couple years and recommended visiting this place.  It’s a far way out from civilization & the trek to get there would take almost 3 times as long as Iquitos to get there…and with only one personal testimonial to rely on (see above)…there was a chance it could be lame.  (Just kidding C – kind of…)

After talking it over, we decided to take the road less traveled and visit the research center.  And I’m SO glad we did.

*I should note – Ryan was adamant about seeing Machu Picchu, so he decided to take the first leg of the trip solo and take his own separate journey.  So for this adventure in the Amazon, it would be just myself & Jason (pictured below inside of a bird blind)

 

 

Let’s start the adventure, shall we?

When we arrived in Puerto Maldonado, we met with our guide from the research center to take a caravan down to the river, where a boat would be waiting for us.  From there, we traveled up the river about an hour and a half until we reached the entrance to the research lodge.

 

 

I thought the hike to Machu Picchu was hot…this part of Peru was hot AND humid!  Probably the most intense heat I’ve ever experienced…it really never quit – night or day.

 

 

The trip up the river was pretty serene.  It became quite a lot of repetitive scenery, but it gave us the impression of how deep into the rainforest we really were.

 

 

Our lunch wrapped up in a palm leaf.  (Inside were rice and potatoes.)  Gotta hand it to them for the presentation.

 

 

These were the cabins at the lodge set up for visitors.  There were really just a few other people there that were visiting at the time – and at one point they left so it was just myself and Jason!  Never really stayed at a place where we were the only guests – was pretty cool to experience!  Felt like our time there was tailored towards what we wanted to do.

 

 

This was the dining area – here you see 3 research students from London.  While the majority of the staff only spoke Spanish (I’m near fluent), it was nice for Jason to be able to communicate with someone while we were there and carry on conversation.

 

 

The lodge was run by a large family of indigenous Peruvians, and many of them hadn’t even ventured outside of Puerto Maldonado (which is a very small town itself.)  It was really insightful to hear their perspective on life, work, and culture.

Here’s a shot of a guide’s wife preparing a meal.  She’s expecting a baby in just a few months – was pretty cool to think about how they’ll be adding a new member to their growing family.  In a way, I’d compare their lifestyle to farm/ranch living in the states.

 

 

After getting settled into our cabin, we were eager to get out into the jungle and do a little exploring.

 

 

I really like how Jason’s shirt contrasts with the jungle in this next shot – really shows just how thick the trees really were.

 

 

Crazy foliage.

 

 

At the end of our little hike, we made our way back down to the river front to catch sunset.

 

 

At night, a group of about 5 of us went out searching for white caiman alligators along the river bed.  Would be fun to try to wrastle ‘em.

 

 

We got back to our lodge – everything from about 8 PM-on was lit strictly by candle-light.  Not to preserve energy…but because the lodge only had 1 solar panel that created enough juice for about 2 hours of electricity per day!  (You’ll see the panel later in this post)

 

 

Our beds were equipped with Mosquito nets for good reason.  Like the heat – the bug bites never ceased.  Here we are getting our “noosing” on.  (Back story – on our adventure in Baja, we came across an abandoned building with a single rope hanging from the ceiling.  It was creepy as hell but we decided to have some fun with it and start our own new photo trend.  It’s like planking or tebowing, except 100 times better.  Yeah, I know…we’re messed up in the head.)

 

 

The next morning we had an early start.  Thank God for Nescafe, right?  (It’s funny – I’ve talked to other travelers about this too…regardless of how well known a country is for its coffee – the international blend is always NESCAFE!)

 

 

Here’s a shot Jason grabbed showing how early we were up to hike.

 

 

The light coming through the trees in the morning was seriously incredible.  I couldn’t stop taking pics.

 

 

We reached our destination after about 2 hours of hiking.  While we waited for our guide, Jorge, to prepare the boats – we tossed some saltines down in the water below and watched piranhas fight over the each bite.

 

 

Nothing special in particular about this photo, just liked how the water ran into the forest habitat.  The amount of species living in such a small area was incredible.  The rainforest is extremely diverse.

 

 

In fact, the Tambopata reserve has been regarded as the most biodiverse area in the world when it comes to butterflies and birds.

 

 

Butterflies were everywhere.

 

 

Here’s a shot of a giant otter clearly displaying his neck markings.  When it comes to otters, the neck actually serves like the human fingerprint – it identifies an individual from the rest in it’s pack.  We were lucky enough to see an entire family feasting on some fish that morning.  Animals in the wild are extremely shy and it’s a slim chance you’ll see this kind of action on a random day.  We were pretty stoked.

 

 

On the way back, we came across a huge tree with super strong vines.  Of course we swung from them.  Felt like George of the Jungle.  (In the photo on the right, I’m wearing a scarf I found on the flight into Peru.  Jason and Ryan both made fun of me because I take these kind of things as good luck…I’m oddly superstitious.)

 

This bird pictured below was an asshole, and hardly anyone liked him at the reserve.  His name is “Wowee,” and he really only gives attention to those who have crackers or beer to offer.

Yeah…you read that right…crackers or beer.

 

 

Seems friendly, right?

 

 

But what happens when you’re down to your last cracker?

He CHASES you and SNAPS at you with his beak!  (The bird is also known to creep in through holes in the ceiling late at night and scare the living sh*t out of the researchers.  At the end of the trip we trapped him inside one of the cabins with a wet towel…everyone cheered and felt like an abusive husband was evicted from the family home)

 

 

Later in the day we made another hike out to the canopy tower to catch sunset.  The tower felt pretty unstable and at times I wondered if it would be my last moments alive.  But hey, I’m here writing to you about the experience – so it looks like it worked out after all!

 

 

Not sure how many stairs we climbed up, but there came a point where there was an iron gate we had to maneuver around.  This obstacle stopped the other members of our group, but Jason and I kept on going.

 

 

Snapped this shot of Jason near the top of the tower.

(Want to know the secret to get ANYONE to crack up laughing like this for your photo?  Email me at tim@timkingblog.com with subject line “Why is Jason laughing?” and I’ll fill you in on this great trick.)

 

 

Here’s that ‘individual’ solar panel I was telling you about earlier.  They really weren’t kidding when they told us they had just one!

 

 

Seeing the sun set over the rainforest was a pretty amazing sight.  Photos don’t do it justice, and I really hope that you get the opportunity to see for yourself someday.

 

 

Here’s my best attempt to relay the visuals…the trees seemed to go on forever.

 

 

Got dark REAL QUICK on the way back.  Luckily we had our trusty flashlights.

 

 

One thing that was a little annoying was all the tarantulas that would always jump out at us while we were hiking.  It seemed like every few feet either a snake would drop down from the trees and try to wrap around your neck or a spider would crawl down your shirt.  It was nearly impossible to get them out without getting bitten.

 

 

PS – just kidding about that last one  :)

When we got back to the lodge, the sky was crystal clear.  Here’s a shot of our cabin lit up with my flashlight during a long exposure.

 

The next morning we headed out to see if we could catch a glimpse of a local clay lick of macaws (a huge flock of wild parrots) through the window of a blind.  Here’s one of the student researchers from London on watch in the pic below.

 

 

Again, that morning light hitting the trees – this kind of sight is where the term “sun kissed” comes from.

 

 

Birds finally decided to make an appearance.

 

 

After the morning hike, we headed out again to explore some less-traveled paths.  We took a couple machetes and carved our way through the thick foliage as we went.  I had so much fun hacking away that I got a little blister on my hand from the wooden handle.  (Shot on GoPro)

 

 

After 2 hikes, we still had energy left for a good game of volleyball.  Sports is one of my favorite activities – you don’t need to speak the language in order to be able to convey trash talk.  What?  Did you think I was gonna say how it brings cultures together or something?  Okay, well yeah I guess that too.

Planning on having this one framed and put up in my office.

 

 

The last night…participated in an ayahuasca ceremony.  Changed my life.

If you want to hear about my experience, I’d be happy to talk about it with you through email.

 

 

In the morning we hopped on the boat back to Puerto Maldonado – here’s our trusty driver looking stoic.

 

 

Hopped on the plane with some suspicious weather on the horizon…stay tuned to hear about how this 1 hr flight almost ended our entire trip across South America.

Check back in on Thursday to hear about my journey down to Patagonia!

 

Patrick - Hi Tim,

Just came across your blog. I like the way you present your travel narrative. Keep traveling.April 11, 2013 – 5:05 pm

Buenos Aires | Tim King Blog | Tim King Photographer - [...] Amazon Adventure [...]January 30, 2013 – 1:33 am

Ray Stein - Amazing Blog and the photography is stunning! Glad to see your are livin life to the fullest. Let me know when you make it to Denver again, would be great to catch up over some drinks!

-RayJanuary 29, 2013 – 11:36 am

Lena - I’ve been waiting for this one :) ahhhmazing. Good to hear you didn’t come home with any snakes or tarantulas in your pockets…January 19, 2013 – 3:42 pm

Cole Joseph - Killer post man! Without a doubt though my favorite part of reading everything was you calling the parrot an asshole! I am still cracking up over that, ha!January 15, 2013 – 11:47 am

ami - WTF spider!a,

Always look forward to your posts, they always feel like grand adventures. Now how do I apply to be a part of your traveling troupe? :)January 15, 2013 – 11:34 am

Christy - Mean trick with the spider.January 14, 2013 – 9:57 pm

Christie - Your blog posts are always remarkably entertaining! As I read this everything checked out, except for the tarantulas and the snakes of course, and it made me miss it so much. Thanks for sharing. I’m excited to hear about it all in person!January 14, 2013 – 8:06 pm

Machu Picchu!

I feel a bit like Bilbo Baggins here, writing to you to tell you about my adventures.

And in some part, it’s pretty similar – I’m going to be posting a few more adventures here in the coming days (Amazon Jungle, Patagonia, Buenos Aires, New Guinea).

Let’s start where it all began, shall we?

One night, I randomly came across an email with an offer for a roundtrip ticket from Los Angeles to Peru for $300.

That’s right.  Round Trip LAX->Peru for $300.

At that price, I’d be losing money if I didn’t go.

So I bought 2 trips.  One with my roommate to go conquer Machu Picchu and the other to go with long time friends Ryan and Jason for an adventure in Patagonia.

You could say we were all pretty stoked.

Backstory:

Prior to making our trek down to Peru, David & I both talked with different people about where to go, what to see, and how to go about the whole Inca trail situation.  (In case you haven’t ever had the discussion, there’s a lot of disagreement about whether you should purchase your tour when you get down there – or book it ahead of time.)

I’ll give you the scoop – the only thing you really REALLY need to book prior is a ticket to hike the Inca trail.  (And a ticket to Huayna Picchu if you want the view everyone seeks to achieve while down there.)  I’d recommend both.

Unfortunately, we didn’t receive that information prior to going, so we decided to take our chances and book when we got to Cusco.  When we got there, tickets were sold out for the Inca trail as well as Huayna Picchu.  When we heard the news, I looked over at David (my roommate) and he was devastated.  He’s an adamant one about doing things to their fullest, and I could tell it didn’t sit well with him.  (He’s probably remembering that feeling while reading this blog right now actually)

I won’t lie – I was a little bummed, but at the same time – excited to explore the road less traveled.  I’ve heard that the Inca trail is constantly flooded with tourists and THAT is one thing I seek to avoid.

So the adventure begins.

We get into Lima.

Rent a car.

Lima smells.  Bad.

We sleep, wake up, head back to the airport.

I accidentally over-shoot the turn-in for the rental car return and almost cause us to miss our flight.  In a swift decision to bend the rules and make an un-lawful U-Turn, I get us into a little trouble with the authorities.  A policeman comes over and starts to threaten us with a ticket.

*This* is the face of a guy who just used the ol’ $7 handshake to get himself out of a traffic violation in Peru.

We take off for Cusco.  One of the most dangerous airports to fly into in the world due to it’s high altitude and heavy winds.

Not to mention heavy traffic.

We get a single room at one of the local hostels.

We decide to spend some time acclimating to the altitude since we’ll need our lungs in tip-top shape in a few days.

Here we are enjoying some of the local architectural ruins:


This old guy (pictured below) noticed David attempting a handstand (above) and got infuriated.  He spoke so fast it was difficult to understand him, but I think he was upset that he’s never been able to pull off a handstand before – and wanted David to teach him how.  Something else about staying off the ruins, respecting things, I don’t know.

We hired a car to take us out to this spot since we missed the group tour earlier in the day.  I love making my own tours – a lot of times if you go at off hours, you’ll get the chance to see everything without interference from a lot of people clogging it up.



We decided to have our driver drop us off in the outskirts of town so we could walk back and get a little extra exercise on our way back to the room.  Later on we found out the parts we walked through were actually the most DANGEROUS parts of the city.  Good to know!

The next morning we headed out to the local market to try out some local cuisine.

They made fresh juice from the fruits right in front of you.  It was delicious, and it was really cheap.  Loving Peru already.

We took another day trip out to the Salt Mines and came across some pretty cool scenery along the way.  We hired our own car ($40/day vs $4 each for the bus) and it was well worth it.  We came across some amazing view points where we asked our guy to just pull over so we could get some shots.

Everyone has a dreamy meadow shot.  It was about time I got my own.

We made it back to our room pretty late since it was a long drive out that day – here’s David texting Lindsay (his girlfriend – sorry ladies, he’s taken) before we make the trek out the following morning.

Coca tea.  This stuff was addictive.  Really.

Meeting the group for the first time.  Sizing everyone up, guessing who’s going to be the straggler.  Kidding!  Kind of.

Mosquitos started biting pretty soon.  And they were serious.  It’s recommended you take Malaria pills while out in this neck of the woods.  We weren’t taking any chances.

Our fearless guide, Niko.  He would always make sure we only focused on what was important – which was the next 3-4 hours of our hike.  Nothing else.

While we hiked, views like this were pretty common.  And you got to see a lot of it, because we stopped to rest pretty often!  The altitude was killer and the amount we were ascending each day was pretty intense.

Soup’s…off?  Was pretty hungry, so this is the photo you get of our first lunch.

First base camp after 12 miles of hiking.  We were worn out and ready to sleep by 7 PM.  But hey, when you gotta wake up at 4 to hike the next morning, you don’t even worry about how early you’re crashing out.

Two candles were our only source of heat during our trek.  And it was COLD.

 

Here’s chef preparing our food.  He only spoke Quechua, so only our tour guide and the German – Leo could communicate with him.  (Leo had randomly been studying this ancient language as part of his archeology focus) 

Day 2.

 

Yes.  It was f*cking cold.  The weirdest part?  There were bulls and cow grazing up at 14,000 feet.  Was a pretty interesting sight. The summit.

Happy guy right here.  I’m posing like I’m not completely out of breath.

Grenadines – my new favorite hiking fruit.  Looks like an egg from an alien, but tastes amazing.

You know what else tastes amazing? 

Day 4 was hot as balls.  I tried to find shade wherever I could while I was walking to avoid the strong sunlight.

A pretty common site during the 5 day trek: empty water bottles.

Here’s our base camp the night prior to arriving into Aguas Calientes.  Aguas Calientes is a town right outside the site of Machu Picchu that was pretty much built for tourists.  No cars, just busses and trains.  Pretty big turn off for me.

Speaking of tourists, here’s a stunning example of the stereotype.  I was pretty bummed to see how packed Machu Picchu was with people, but once you get past that, it’s a pretty remarkable place to experience.

This was sunrise from the Eastern slope.  Probably the coolest sunrise I’ve ever seen.  The way the sun’s rays split over the mountain tops was unlike anything I had seen before.

Here’s another view, including the surroundings.  The way the light just kissed the side of Machu Picchu was gorgeous.

In addition to the more well-known site, there are 2 additional mountains you can climb during your visit.

1.  Huayna Picchu – costs about $140 and sells out weeks in advance.  More people try to visit this one since it has more architectural remains on the top.  Supposedly a better view, but I doubt it.

2. Mt. Machu Picchu – about twice as tall as Huayna Picchu, this beast is an additional 2,000 stone steps to get up.  The climb down made my knees sore for a month afterwards.  Really.

But it was worth it.

On our last night in town together, a group of us met up for coffee and listened to David attempt to play the flute he bought at the market.

After seeing the stars earlier that morning, I felt compelled to try to get a shot from town before we had to board our train back to Cusco.  I found a guy that worked in a small shop in town that told me he knew of an un-finished floor with open air access I could use.  The guy looked a little shady, but I figured “what the hell“.
The spot he led me to was pretty dark, there were no walls, and if you took a wrong step – that would have been the end of you.  This feeling made me acutely aware of the income gap between myself and the guy who led me up to that spot, and realized that if he wanted my camera – it would have been pretty easy for him to just push me off the roof.

 

And you know what?  That sucks.  I got caught up in ‘tourist’ mindset where you always assume the worst because of a difference in financial situations and being in a foreign land.  The guy didn’t kill me – I tipped him for showing me the spot (and not killing me) and I walked away trusting humanity *that* much more.

And came back with a half-way decent shot of what you would see if you had looked up that night.

We made our journey back to Lima and spent our final day catching up on all our business we had been separated from.  Here’s David laughing at something inappropriate I probably said.

 The trip was a blast, and there was so much more to tell of this story.  However, the blog post would have stretched pages – and hey, we both don’t have time for that.  However, if you’d like to see more images, check me out on Facebook (I’ll be uploading a different set tomorrow).
In the meantime, check back later this week for another post from my 2nd trip to Peru for my visit to the Amazon Rain forest.

PS – here’s the breakdown for total trip cost in case you’re curious of making the journey yourself:

Flight – $300

Hotel & Hostel – $350 each for the entire trip

 Tour to Machu Picchu via Salkantay including meals – $250 each

Misc food, driver – $100

Total trip cost:  $1000

Hope you enjoyed this post!

Grant - Hey mate, love your work – very gifted photography. Were a lot of these shots taken wider than 24mm? Im heading here soon and Im not sure if I should pick up an UWA.

Thanks for any help.October 22, 2014 – 4:04 am

KC Fisher - You are an incredible photographer!

I have a question about your trip. Based on this blog it looks like you did your traveling in Dec/Jan? How was the weather? My husband and I are planning to go next late December/early January and am nervous that it will be rainy/nasty weather.May 8, 2013 – 10:01 am

Claudia - The beauty of your photogrpahy inspires me. I’m going on quite a different kind of journey but nonetheless, I hope to get out as much from Peru as you did. Peru, here I come!February 5, 2013 – 1:56 pm

Lena - You didn’t really eat that cute hamster… did you? :*( haha The silhouette shot of the sun over the mountains and the one of the starry sky is killllller dawg!!!!January 19, 2013 – 3:45 pm

Amazon Adventure | Tim King Blog | Tim King Photographer - [...] Machu Picchu! [...]January 14, 2013 – 5:24 am

Elle Moral - I really enjoyed reading about your impromptu trip to Peru. What a great trip to share with your homie. Your photos really rocked. I love how simple yet impactful your images are. Thanks so much for sharing, please keep on!January 13, 2013 – 3:35 pm

MattyV - Wow Tim, this was a great blog…thanks for posting man. Always enjoy reading about your adventures.January 12, 2013 – 9:28 pm

Melanie Rose - Finally had a chance to look at your blog and I am completely blown away. These landscapes are some of the most remarkable, crisp shots I have ever seen! I still can’t get over the night sky shot. Love it!January 12, 2013 – 5:35 am

Johnny Jimenez - Amazing work Tim. From your work it seemed like most was shot in wide angle if i am not mistaken, Either was your work is incredible!!!!!!!!!!January 10, 2013 – 8:29 pm

Mark Andrew Gonzales - We all know those ruins weren’t build by man… lol Anyway great blog post! Would love to have all the experiences you’ve had so far. Keep sharing dude the pictures are sick as f***!January 10, 2013 – 2:59 pm

Mirian Silva - Tim, I absolutely loooooooved this post. I am glad you are posting again. The story and the pics were amazing. You do an incredible job of transporting others to that moment through your pics and your writing..can’t wait to see more! :)January 10, 2013 – 7:11 am

chari - AMAZING! The shots, the cost… the adventure. I’m very curious to hear what lenses you ended up taking!January 9, 2013 – 10:07 pm

Christy - wow. You have taken some photos of Peru in a way I haven’t seen before. Beautiful. The star pic made me say wow and the 5th from the bottom made my stomach drop. You captured the the area great. I remember thinking I couldn’t capture what I saw with my eyes there but you got it!January 9, 2013 – 9:12 pm

danielle - dude. sweet shots!!! I hope Niko can get that shot :) oh and you better not have eaten that sweet lil guinea pig! lolJanuary 9, 2013 – 7:58 pm

Ellie - Tim! I’ve come back from my Christmas holidays to find that you’ve started posting again! Horaay! I love reading your blog.. and this trip looks simply amazing. It’s crazy that it only cost you $1000! Might have to make the trip one day myself… Thanks for the inspiration! :)January 9, 2013 – 6:33 pm

Matthew Eeles - Amazing pics Tim. The second to last photo is simply magical.January 9, 2013 – 6:33 pm

My personal soundtrack of 2012

Keeping with tradition of last year’s post, I’ve decided to create a personal mix-tape with nostalgic songs that remind me of the experiences I’ve had this past year.

2012 was jam-packed.

And what an adventure it was.

Here’s the track-listing with the associated back-story of why I chose each song.  Enjoy!

Track 1 – Jonsi – Go Do

Instead of posting Jonsi’s video, I’m gonna cheat right off the bat and use Ryan’s video he made from the Iceland trip we all took in January.  He really captured the feeling of the adventure with the song choice and style – nice work Bryan.  (Inside joke, we nicknamed him Bryan this past year.)

Iceland was an incredibly surreal experience with an atmosphere I couldn’t compare to any place I had been before.  It really had an impact on me, and it’s one place I am seriously considering investing in property.   Not sure if I could live there year-round, but I’d love to visit often.

Track 2 – Andreas Moe – Fade Into Darkness Cover (Helene’s song)

While in Sweden I met an amazing girl named Helene.  In addition to her Swedish accent, she was incredibly sarcastic and insulted me constantly – I was instantly seduced.  One night, we stayed up talking for hours about everything from where we dream of traveling, food, family, music, aliens – you name it.  It was the kind of conversation where you get so caught up that it made hours seem like minutes.  At one point she played this song for me – now each time that I hear it, it makes me think of her.

Track 3 – College – A Real Hero

I heard this song while watching “Drive” on a flight from Sweden to Denmark.  The cinematography in that movie is truly amazing, and if you haven’t seen it – do yourself a favor and watch it asap!

The song symbolizes my shift in mindset towards photography.  Capturing photos and telling the story in a style that’s representative of the true nature demonstrates integrity and just FEELS right.  For years, I’ve been excellent working with PR firms making events that aren’t so crowded appear to look like the hottest ticket in town based off what I capture in my camera.  I went to a convention in March of last year that *blew my mind* in regards to this way of thinking.  (And yes, don’t worry – that will be blogged about)

Track 4 – M83 – Midnight City

I met my ex-girlfriend Nicole back in March of last year, and we used to tease each other of “who-introduced-who” to this song.  One of the things I really liked about Nicole was her appreciation of music & how it added so much to the experience of things.  In the past she had made soundtracks from certain times in her life that she could listen to & remember how she ‘felt’ during those stages – and I of course thought that was AWESOME.

I chose this song because of the significance to our never-ending debate, and also because I feel it has an alternative style like Nicole had.  She was a huge part of my life this year and we shared some amazing experiences together that I’ll never forget.

Track 5 – Chromatics – Tick of the Clock

This year has been so busy with work, at times there was a lot of pressure to get large amounts of work done in a quick amount of time.  One thing to the next to the next to the next - no stopping.  Like a machine.  This song is also from the movie Drive, and I feel it does a good job of conveying the intensity of how I felt during certain weeks.

Track 6 – Phil Collins – In the Air Tonight

On my first excursion to South America this year, I remember waking up in the back seat of the car on the way to catch our 7 AM flight out of LAX.  This song was playing on the radio, and I just had this mysterious feeling of wondering what was in store for this next international trip.  It’s definitely a unique vibe – as most international trips I’ve had are powerful experiences & create memories you will have for the rest of your life.  The anticipation prior is pretty damn exciting.

Track 7 – Tiga – Far From Home

Okay, I’m cheating again.  I’m tying in another video because I feel it does a great job conveying the feeling of constantly traveling from one place to the next.  During the last 2 months of the year, I traveled for 7 out of the 8 weeks and was constantly on the move. Casey Neistat (the guy who directed this video) is one of my favorite film producers. I love his style, but watch the video & see for yourself.

Peru->Chile->Argetina->Los Angeles->Denver->San Diego->Los Angeles->Papua New Guinea->Los Angeles->Bellingham->Canada->San Diego.

In case you were curious.  (And yes, these will also be blogged)

Track 8 – Michael Buble – Home

On the tail end of my trip to Papua New Guinea, I was in the hotel bar with 3 other travelers that had accompanied me on our expedition and they had a live cover artist singing well-known american songs.  This song has been a favorite of mine, and it struck me *especially* at that point since it felt like it had been so long since I’ve really felt “home”.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this.  To be honest with you, as I’ve written this post – I’ve felt a crazy rush of emotions thinking back to these experiences and remembering how I felt at the time.  And while it’s cool to share these stories with you, I’m positive that I’m going to value looking back on this post years down the line…and being able to remember the feelings all over again.

I suggest you do this for yourself as well!  You’ll thank yourself later.

(Photo above was shot in Kiruna, Sweden during my trip to visit the Ice Hotel)

It’s History | mon ami - [...] personal soundtrack of 2012 (here) – Tim King is a photographer that I follow (he goes on awesome adventures around the world), [...]January 3, 2013 – 5:43 am

Jennifer - Tim, I love this. I feel like it so authentically captures you – the women you fell for, the excitement (and grind) of travel and work, and even a little bit of homesickness (thank god you’re human!). For a homebody/workaholic like myself it’s great having you in my life – I get to live through your pictures and your stories. I can’t wait for another year – and don’t forget to slow down and enjoy gems right in your backyard or hometown once in awhile :) Keep up the amazing work!January 2, 2013 – 4:24 pm

7 ways to break plateaus and grow as a photographer

Back in 2011, I hit a point where I felt stuck.

I was a harsh critic of my photography and my attempts to get better weren’t working.  I had been to a few workshops in the past, and was unsuccessful in regards to improving the quality of my photos.

In 2012, I’ve incorporated a few of the following techniques and have seen my work improve vastly from what it has been in the past.  I hope these help, and if you have any experience with using these ideas, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

 

1.   Shoot everyday. 

Doesn’t matter if you use your 5D MK III or iPhone.  Maintaining the mindset of constantly thinking about light, framing, and moments keeps your mind tack sharp so that you’re in your best shape when it’s go-time.  The most important aspect being able to recognize how certain types of light affect your shot – and how to work with it or around it.  I’m planning on writing an extensive post on ‘this idea’ alone in the coming week, so check back later on for more in-detail discussion.

 

2.  Shoot film.

This is more of a “karate-kid” approach towards things, but it helps.  When you only have a certain number of frames to work with, you can be sure you’ll put more thought into each shot.  I know, I know – “But Tim, how does this improve my photography?  I can just take a zillion shots on burst mode and choose the best later!”

In my opinion, this technique helps your mindset.  It helps you anticipate moments, and also subconsciously helps you focus on what’s MOST important.  Not spending time shooting countless photos of a minor detail just because you want to have options to choose from later.  Avoiding any distractions that may affect your workflow come game-day.

 

3.  Personal projects

I’d suggest this for those that are feeling burnt out and/or bored with their work.  Another karate-kid approach, but I truly feel making photos purely of your own vision helps rejuvenate your motivation to be a photographer, and consequently – opens up your style and allows it to truly blossom into other areas of your work.

There has been a destination in New Mexico I’ve wanted to shoot for a couple years now…happy to say that I’ve booked a flight solely for the purpose of shooting it.  No people to see or places to visit.  Just to shoot.

Have something you’ve wanted to shoot?  Go after it.  You’ll notice a change in your style once you return to your normal work.

 

4.  Take workshops from photographers you admire

I’ve taken a few workshops in the past, I’ve attended WPPI and other trade shows, I’ve watched popular skilled photographers on CreativeLive…but nothing compared to the 2 hours of time I spent with a certain photographer.  I admired his work, and pursued him to offer a mini-session while he was in town on a short visit.  While he’s not the definitive style of photographer I aspire to be, meeting him led me to discover several other VERY resourceful photographers who’ve propelled my skills.

Recognizing what style you aspire in your own work is key to recognizing it in others.  Also, recognizing a photographer that can relay their approach and help you gain an understanding on how to achieve that look.

 

5.  Hire 2nd shooters that see things differently than you do

In 2011, I worked with several 2nd shooters who shot the same way I did.  They gave me great quality, but I didn’t really learn from them.

In 2012, I decided to pay a higher price point for my 2nd photographers and contract others that were more established than myself.  OR, some weddings that didn’t opt for a 2nd photographer – I brought on someone (out of my own pocket) whose style was different and new, but not necessarily as established.  Just to see how they worked and if I could use them again.  This approach ended up with a win-win-win.  Both scenarios brought more variety to the final product, I was able to gain knowledge from the more experienced photogs, and real-time discussion of how we saw things differently helped immensely.

 

6.  Shoot with one lens for an extended amount of time

On a recent trip, a friend of mine let me borrow his 14mm lens.  I’ve tried it in the past and really disliked the distortion on the edges.  In conversation, he assured me that I have to “really get to know it” before I judge it.

He couldn’t have been more right.  While 90% of the shots I took with the lens I won’t end up using, I discovered the situations in which it creates KILLER photos.  It’s a rare breed of shot, but the 14 nails it.

Point being, get to know your lenses REALLY well – where they excel and where they fall short.  It will help refine your thinking in terms of creating the shot, and anticipating what you’ll need ahead of time.  Less experimenting on-the-go.

 

7.  Shoot something for free. Under the condition that you shoot exactly how you want.  

No exceptions.

I’ve worked with a ton of clients for my event work in the past, and the more and more I express my own vision, I find the more they’re satisfied.  Might be a confidence issue, but when I was first starting out – I had 5 people telling me how to shoot a certain shot or what I need to focus on.

By doing things entirely your way and gauging the reaction from someone experiencing your vision – it may just give you the boost you need to start shooting from the gut more often.

 

(Here’s a shot of me in Berlin, feeling frustrated that I couldn’t achieve any growth)

 

Hope this helped!  If you think other’s might benefit from this, I’d be thrilled if you shared this with them.

Phil - Thoroughly enjoyed the post. I have taken workshops with one of the Photographers I look up to, I have a few more I would like to spend a couple of hours with. I have tried the “sticking with one lens for an extended period”, it was very helpful as I wasn’t to happy with my Primes after I got the first one. I shoot primarily Sports, but would love to be able to learn more in the portrait style shoot. I guess I’ll be dragging my Petri 35mm back out now!December 30, 2012 – 1:14 pm

Mark Gonzales - Great write-up Tim! I hope to work with you again in 2013! Stay up buddy.December 30, 2012 – 1:03 pm