LENAPE: I Never Leave Home Without It!

As a photographer, I've been blessed with the opportunity to work with people from all walks of life. I've worked with some on a single project and with others on more projects than I can count with two hands. I met a man by the name of Daniel "Strong Walker" Thomas, a few years back, while hosting a "photography party". A colleague of mine and I use to rent out photography studios for the day and invite as many clients as possible. Daniel came by with his family and we cooked up some pretty nice portraits on himself and his son. This session led to a friendship being born. I've had the privilege of witnessing not only his personal growth, but also the growth of his business, LENAPE

 San Juan, PR (November 2017)

San Juan, PR (November 2017)

Daniel has strong Native American roots, being the grandson of Arthur Thomas, who served proudly as Chief of the Delaware Nation for 14 years and will be remembered for his influence on the current organization and recognition of the tribe. Lenape is an indigenous word of the Delaware Nation meaning "the people"'. 

 San Juan, PR (November 2017)

San Juan, PR (November 2017)

"Our Goal is to produce unique bags that can accompany you on whatever travels and adventures your path may bring you", Daniel said while discussing our creative ideas. I was actually in the middle of planning my third trip to Puerto Rico in November (2017); I was on my way to document life after Maria. It was during one of our conversations that Daniel decided to sponsor my upcoming trip by donating two travel bags. This was a perfect opportunity for him to be part of a meaningful project, as well as test his merchandise in real life conditions. I made it very clear to him that I was going to put the bags through some tough times and give him my honest feedback. 

 Trujillo Alto, PR (November 2017)

Trujillo Alto, PR (November 2017)

Before I share my opinion with all of my readers, I want to make it very clear that I did not hold back during my travels. I used these bags like I would any of my other bags. I didn't take it easy because they were "new". I honestly wanted to see how far I can push them and to be honest, I have nothing bad to say about them at all! I could not be more impressed with the results. I tossed them on the ground, got sand in them, used them for equipment, supplies, etc. I literally did anything and everything with them while on the road.

Lenape bags are made of high quality leather using a traditional process. You can feel the strength of the material and not once did I fear it wasn't going to get the job done. Both bags are spacious and allowed me to comfortably carry all of my clothes, belongings and camera equipment. I highly recommend all of my friends to grab themselves a bag or two. It's an investment you won't regret. Oh, and tell them Flako sent you!

#ThinkAndCreate

Mis Raíces: 60 Days After Hurricane Maria - Day One (1/5)

It was during November of 2016 that I started working on Mis Raíces, a photography project focused on my journey exploring my Puerto Rican roots. I spent the first 7 months of this year rekindling my love for my culture after not visiting my family on the island for close to 14 years. Between January and June I had visited twice, for a total of 3 weeks. I put together a 20 piece collection and was honored to have it on display at the Villa Victoria Center for the Arts for the month of September. It was magical being able to decorate the walls of the gallery with images of Puerto Rico's beautiful landscapes and people. Midway through the month bad news came in the form of a hurricane. It was the largest the island has ever experienced. I could no longer celebrate my success. I was too busy worried about the well being of my family and friends. Are they safe? Are they alive?

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Love Like You Never Been Hurt Before

 Boston 2016

Boston 2016

Remember when you were a teenager and found love for the first time? Remember how magical it felt? As if you've discovered something you've only read about in books.

Remember how deep you use to love? Before you ever tasted the pain that comes with a broken promise. Before you've felt the coldness of a lonely night.

Remember that feeling you got in your bones while writing a love letter during science class? The way your mind use to marry words and give birth to phrases that would melt any young heart? Remember that?

I know it's easy to become cold after your heart has been played like an instrument. I know it's easy to remain in your comfort zone and not risk losing another piece of yourself to the wrong person. After all, how many pieces can we afford to lose before losing ourselves?

But the truth is that everything worth fighting for is on the other side of fear. Every experience, whether good or bad, is an opportunity for us to learn and grow as an individual. Start by learning to love yourself before you ever commit to someone else. Self-love is key!

Think about it: who knows you more than you? Make time to take yourself out to eat at your favorite local spot. Spend a day doing something you are passionate about or something you always wanted to do. Go to the mall and buy yourself a gift. This is important because how could you ever love someone else if you can't even love yourself?

Once you get into the habit of spoiling yourself with love, anyone that comes into your life has to meet those same standards. They must love you as much as you love yourself (and vise versa). Get it? 

With that said, I just want to ask who ever takes the time to read these words to not only be brave enough to love again, but to love like you never been hurt before.

#ThinkAndCreate