My First Official Photography Exhibition!

I been starring at my computer for almost an hour, not sure how to start this post. It's almost unbelievable that I'm even writing this. When I started this blog 2-3 years ago, it was for my own personal enjoyment. I needed a place where I could express myself artistically with images and words. Never did I imagine it would lead to me hosting my very own photography exhibit. I owe it all to every single person out there that pushed me forward and always reminded me how much my work meant to them.

Read More

My Conversation with an Uber Driver

I don't do much driving, so I tend to use public transportation a lot. Everything from trains to taxis. Meeting new people has become somewhat of a routine for me. I'm always fishing for a good story. Which is why i enjoy photographing people so much. I've learned that we all want to tell our story to someone. So I recently struck up a conversation with an Uber driver that I felt the need to share with you all.

Read More

RIP - I Met Her On A Photography Journey

A few years a go I had the privilege of traveling to San Pedro de Macoris (Dominican Republic) for a week. I was there to attend my aunt's wedding but of course I had to turn it into my own little photography project. On my third day there I came across this amazing soul. She was so humble & loving. I was informed recently that she has passed away and is no longer with us. I wanted to end this year by honoring her in this post. Moments like these remind me why it's so important for me to capture the people around me. We just never know when our last day is at hand. Blessings to all!

#ThinkAndCreate

A 'Thank You' From Me, The Blog Founder, To You, The Reader.

What began as a form of personal creative therapy, has grown into a brand of creativity. When I started this blog I did not expect it to take me as far as it has. I can only imagine what the future has in store for me. Considering all the attention my work has been receiving recently, I figured it was the perfect time to slow down & THANK YOU all for the constant support.

Read More

I Promised to Share His 'Scar' with the World


Every time I walk around the city with my camera I meet new people. Some old, some young. Some rich, some poor. I have a gift of getting stories out of people. This past weekend was no different.

I was in the middle of a session with a model, for my Dead Roses project, when Junior approached me. He asked questions about my camera & what exactly I was doing in Chinatown. I shared some of my pictures with him & got to talking. We happen to be from the same neighborhood in Boston & even shared common friends.

Midway through our conversation, he shared his scar with me. Pointing out why he isn't worthy of a picture. I told him that every scar we carry comes with a story. That's when he told me about his fight with cancer & how he survived it. He said I can take a picture of his scar but with two conditions: I can't show his face & I have to share it with the world. Of course I agreed.

#ThinkAndCreate

DEAD ROSES x Coming 2016

I first took to poetry in high school. It started off as a class assignment & quickly grew into one of my favorite forms of expression. A little less than a year ago I started sharing my pieces on my social media accounts. It didn't take long for me to see how much people enjoy reading them. Since then people have been asking me to publish my work. Which led to me wanting to create something amazing. It is with great joy that I announce the coming of Dead Roses. It'll be a compilation of short poetry pieces. This work of art will revolve around my all time favorite emotion: LOVE. There's a dark rawness to love that I want to highlight. Which is why I chose the title to be what it is. Roses are a universal symbol for love; but even roses die & change color with time. This does not mean that they seize to be beautiful. It just means we must accept the changes that have been brought forth with time. Which is an amazing experience in itself.

I will be sharing more details with you all as they come clear to me. I am currently working day & night with an incredible team trying to make this a reality for us all. We are certain that we will be launching the publication in the first quarter of the year 2016. Other details are being finalized as I type this post. Once again, thanks for your constant support.

To get a taste of what is to come, follow my official Instagram & FaceBook pages.

#ThinkAndCreate

5 Tips To Become a Better Photographer


I was teaching a friend of mine a few things about photography. You know- the basic. She urged me to share some tips on my blog. I figured it'll help someone. I hope this article is helpful next time you pick up your camera.

1. Know Your Equipment

As silly as this may sound, you have to become one with your camera & accessories. Get to know everything there is to know. How well does your camera work in low light? How long is your battery life? What's special about your lens? Does your flash stall in between shots? (etc.) Getting to know your equipment on this level will allow you to adapt to any situation while working in the field. Not every camera works the same. The more you use yours, the more you'll learn about it. 

2. Be Observant & Anticipate

One of the secrets to being a good photographer is being observant. You can't photograph what you don't see. Look up, down, left, right, front & back. There's always something happening. That's why it's important to anticipate. This might not apply for certain shoots, but it does make a difference during weddings & sporting events. It's important to know the direction the subject is moving in order to stay ahead of them & anticipate a perfect shot.

3. Be Friendly

I'll never forget reading an article that explained how in some countries, pointing a camera at someone is as hostile as pointing a gun. That gave me a brand new perspective on approaching individuals in the street while photographing. I've come to learn that people are more willing to take a picture after you've shared words with them. The smallest conversation can help them feel comfortable once you begin to shoot. This has also blessed me with the opportunity of hearing some amazing stories.

4. Study + Research

This has to be one of my favorite tips. Let's keep it simple: STUDY + RESEARCH. If you're traveling somewhere, do research on the place. What makes it different? Any special or historical locations in the area? If your couple, get to know them. What do they like? Where did they meet? Having extra information about your subject with help you capture images that tell a story. 

5. Patience is a Virtue

Henri Cartier-Bresson is considered to be the Father of street photography. Studying his work has taught me plenty, but overall I have learned to be patient. He would sit in one location for hours waiting for what he called The Decisive Moment. Learning to be patient is key for those who desire to specialize in street & documentary photography.

Please comment below & share your opinion. Blessings!

#ThinkAndCreate

Q&A with Brujo Live


I first crossed paths with Brujo Live many years ago. He's always been a talented lyricist in the Boston area. His music is heard nationwide & in Latin countries throughout the world. We've been able to build a friendship throughout the last few years. Recently, after a photography session, I decided to ask him a few questions.


Q. Why is it important to inspire others to think?
A. The motive is to trigger inspiration. If you can inspire, you can motivate. Making people think is the key to countless possibilities. They say two heads are better than one, so imagine a world where we all don't think alike but we all think together! Sharing ideas can be very powerful and lead to endless inspiration. 

Q. What inspires you to create music?
A. Energy is what drives me- I feel alive when I sense it. Energy is everything to me. Bad energy can inspire me to write about depression or stressful moments. Good energy can become the reason I write a club song or about a woman I like.

Q. Think back to when you first started writing music- what is different about you today?
A. I was more concerned with putting music out, instead of taking the proper procedures to ensuring that everything was fully ready. Now.. I focus on quality and all the copyrights. I make sure the song is completely registered before enjoying the promotion process. Aside from all that, I matured and feel as if my lyrics did also. Not to say I still don't like competition.. (giggled)

Q. What should your listeners expect from you this upcoming Fall & Winter?
A. Expect the unexpected. I have many surprises for my followers and as most of them know, they are the key to any success I've ever had. I will say I have a lot more music and been focusing more on perfecting my lyrics. I only want to give my fans the best. They deserve it.



#ThinkAndCreate

Amazing Art Carved on Real Human Skulls


I've attended & worked at about seven comic conventions thus far. Each one has been an experience of it's own. After the first few I've learned that you never know exactly what to expect at these events. But during my second time in Philadelphia, I came across Zane Wylie. Nothing could have prepared me for that moment.


Yes, you are looking at real Human skulls that have been carved into works of art. Zane is a respected Master Skull Carver. We shared an interesting conversation. I couldn't help but ask him 1,000 questions. In case you're wondering, this is a perfectly legal. He purchases the skulls from archeologists or businesses that sell to medical schools. His work was featured on the TV series Constantine.



He does have them for sale on his website. You also have the option of purchasing a replica, if owning a real Human skull bothers you a bit. Which is understandable. I find his work to be amazing & extremely creative. Talk about Think & Create.


Share with your friends on social media & comment below which one is your favorite.

Original Woman: Out of Africa



We all come across many teachers as we walk further down the path of life. I enjoy calling them spiritual elders. Each one carries with them a bag of jewels (knowledge). One of my closest elders has referred to black females as Original Women for as long as I've known him. It's because of his belief that all humans come from Africa. This is known as the "Out of Africa" theory (OOA). The many interesting conversations we have shared inspired this particular project. Enjoy.






Model: Rayne O'Reilly

One Man's Words to His Mother Whom He Never Met


This is Daniel. An amazing human being & a client of mine. Not too long ago, we worked together on pictures for his business website. About a week after that, on Mother's Day, he shared a message on his social media to his biological Mother, whom he never met, that touched me deeply. With his permission, I share it with you all.

"Never met you mom, never had the chance to be held by you or to get to know you. You had demons to battle and unselfishly, you gave me up so I would be spared your life. I want you to know where ever you are, what ever you are doing, you are special to me and more then good enough. I'll never judge you, I'll never hurt you like others have, you're my mother and I'm grateful for life, come home you've been through enough, forgive yourself, I've forgiven you. I love you mom, who ever you are, where ever you are, in this life or the next, we will meet and embrace!"

People like Daniel make it easy for me to appreciate everything & everyone around me. Sometimes life unfolds in ways we cannot explain or even begin to understand. The key is to understand we are supreme spiritual beings having a human experience. Accepting what is brings peace to the mind & soul. May this post change your perspective on life, for the better. Always for the better.

Why I Prefer To Walk Everywhere

photo credit: Dante Luna

I was born & raised in Boston, MA. This means I am a city boy by nature. Ever since my freshman year in high school, I have been subway surfing & bus jumping. There's a science behind getting around the city but that isn't what this post is about. Whenever I meet people new to the city life or from another state, they're always surprised I don't have a car. I get it; I'm 27 & usually people my age own one by this point in their lives but nope, not me. Why? I'm getting to that.

Truthfully there are so many reasons but I won't get all psychological with it.

When I started exploring photography, I would go for long walks around the city, just searching for new things to capture. This quickly grew into habit. Now, I do it religiously. At least 2-3 times a week I'll go for a walk with my camera. At times I just wander around with no destination in mind. Those tend to be the best walks of all. I get naturally high off the sensation of exploration. Around every corner there is a street I haven't walked or a view I have yet to experience. I always walk with ease. Taking in all that surrounds me. Looking up, down, left, right, back & front. It's what we observers do.

photo credit: Dante Luna

I remember a conversation that I shared with a good friend of mine who, unlike me, drives everywhere. We were discussing a specific location we both happen to pass a lot when I brought up a cool graffiti piece I thought he might appreciate. He had been completely oblivious to it. I'll never forget his next words, "You walkers get to enjoy the details us drivers miss." At that very moment I realized the gift that walking everywhere has been to me. 

Nothing seems to clear my mind or recharge my energy the way a peaceful walk around the city does, especially at night. It's more or less my me time. I get lost in my thoughts & have come up with some of my best ideas. I analyze my current situation & plot my next few moves. I have met some amazing people along the way. Something about being on the move alone calms my spirit down. All becomes clear to me. I return home with a fresh mind, ready to take on any and all obstacles that may present themselves.

photo credit: Dante Luna

Don't get me wrong, cars are very useful & needed in some cases. But there is a certain beauty in the simplicity of a walk. Don't be afraid to just pack a bag of lunch & purposely get lost around town one day. Think about a street you always drive on but never walk, then go & walk it. Take your time & see your world from a different angle and who knows what you might discover. Feel free to share with me what you run into. I'm curious to hear from you all.

Blessings.

Ex-Vietnam War Nurse, Homeless in America

It was a nice day outside. Most people would consider it cold but for us Bostonians, it was warm (high 40s). I had just wrapped up a photo session with one of my clients when I decided to take a stroll around the city. I barely walked two blocks up State Street before I came across Kathleen. Her eyes spoke to me before her lips could even shed a word. I quickly got comfortable on the sidewalk & began talking with her. Listening to her every word. She has to be one of the kindest souls I've ever had the privilege of crossing paths with.

She told me she was 62 years old & that I'm the same age as her son. I smiled when she said, "you're just a baby with a camera". She shared with me stories of when she served in the final years of the Vietnam War. At this point she showed me an injury she suffered while in service (image above). She almost lost her right leg due to an explosion. Although she was lucky enough to save it, she still suffers minor complications while walking.

We spoke a lot about Florida. My parents live there & she loves the hot climate. She made it a point that she is in the process of hitchhiking her way down South. I could hear the conviction behind her words. According to Kathleen, the only thing holding her back was not being able to find a man with guts to tag along with her. Before I left she guaranteed me she will make it one way or another. She even promised to look up my site when she arrives (Hi Kathleen!). I wished her a safe journey & gave her some money to help her out at the moment.

P.S.

If you see her, lend her a hand & put it on my tab. Don't forget that sometimes the softest souls live in the shadows. Blessings!

The Old Man & the Flower


Everyone in town knew about the Old Man who lived in the mountains. He would rise with the Sun, walk to the top of the mountain & then back down before Sunset. He would do this religiously everyday.

Before returning home he would always stop by his favorite location. It was the only place in the region where his favorite flower grew. He would pick it from the ground & bring it home with him. Although he fed it the freshest water & placed it in the nicest vases, the flowers would always die with time. 

It wasn't long before the Old Man seen his mistake. He learned to admire it & to love it for what it is, a flower. He realized that by removing it from the ground & claiming ownership, he would bring death to it. For he so much loved the flower that he stopped bringing it home.

Now he cherishes it. Bringing it the richest water the mountain has to offer. 

Like the Old Man, many of us want to capture & possess all that makes us happy. As spiritual beings (souls) having a human experience, we must learn to love & let be. We have an almost animal instinct inside us that forces us to conquer & control. That's where to true challenge lies. Can we ultimately be like the Old Man, who learned to love the flower enough to let it live? Even if it meant he couldn't bring it home with him.

Words From Another World

If you follow me on social networks, I'm sure you've been seeing these "quotes" being shared around. Many have been asking me if they are mines, and where do I get them from? Well... Yes, they are mines and they come from my mind. That's the simple truth. I'm inspired by life and all that goes on around me. As an artist, I keep my eyes and ears open. Always searching for inspiration. I've shared a lot of myself through my photography and art projects. But there is more to me than meets the eye. Growing up, I constantly used the pen to express my feelings and views. Whether it was by creating an illustrations or poems. Add me on Facebook and Instagram to keep up with my creations. Feel free to share my work on your accounts.

Don't forget to include the hashtags #MrFlakoVeli & #ThinkAndCreate




I Wonder What She Would Say


The other day I was going through my folders of pictures and came across the image above. It was a cold December night as I walked up the Las Vegas strip. I came across this young women on a bridge. I asked her a few questions with the intentions of finding out her story, but she remained silent. She gave me no reaction. She barely moved a muscle. I didn't want to just leave, so I reached in my pocket and gave her some extra cash I had on me. At that moment I asked for permission to take a picture. She nonchalantly nodded her head "yes". It's been over a year since my encounter with her, and I still think of her voice. A voice I never heard. I wonder what she would say.


My Moment with the King (RIP Bee)



Ever since I picked up my camera and started chasing my dreams, I've met all kinds of people. Famous and poor. Black and white. But there is always certain spirits that you only have to meet once for them to change your life. King Bee was one of those spirits. 



I met Bee as a martial artist first and a tattoo artist second. He was the artist behind my friend's sleeve. I heard countless stories of him before I had the privilege of meeting him in person. I remember his energy was strong. You could feel Bee across the room. His spirituality was deep. As we spoke he would drop wisdom in a smooth manner. So smooth, that if you wasn't paying attention you would miss it.



These types of post always get to me. They always remind me that after we die, we live on in our photos. Pictures are literally memories frozen in time. As I wrap up this post, I sit back looking at these moments I shared with Bee. It was his last session with my good friend Dante. On that note I say, long live the King! 

R.I.P. Bee