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A Message From a Backer

I received a message from one of my Olympic Spirit Project backers on Kickstarter and loved it so much, I wanted to share it. It’s from someone I don’t know, who randomly found my project.

I love the entrepreneurial spirit of this family and LOVE that I’ve inspired a young sports fan and entrepreneur to get involved with my project and with Kickstarter! It’s people and support like this that make projects like mine possible! I would love to see more of these creative ways of being inspiring our youth!

 

inspire_be_inspired“Hi Mariska, 

Thought I might let you know how it came about . I wanted to expose my four kids to Kickstarter, as a means of inspiring their entrepreneurial spirit, expose them to crowdfunding, and at very least give them an opportunity to support the arts.

I gave them each $40 as part of their Christmas. The kids are aged 17 to 28 and they all loved the idea. The youngest, a 17 year old, selected you and your project because he wanted to support a fellow Canadian and loved your posted work from the Vancouver Games (he’s also quite an avid photographer and sports nut and will be following the events you will be attending with interest). 

We’re all routing for you to make your funding target Mariska, and bring the project to life!!! Best of luck!”    

(The message has been slightly edited for privacy.)

I send huge gratitude out to you for getting involved, backing my project, and for exposing your kids to Kickstarter!

 

To see where the inspiration all stemmed from, please visit The Olympic Spirit Project on Kickstarter by clicking the button below.

Pledge your support on Kickstarter

 

Thank you for your support!

What’s In My Olympics Memory Box?

I opened my Olympics memory box this week and am now even more excited and inspired for the Olympic Spirit Project at the Sochi 2014 Olymipc Winter Games!

Here are a few of the item that I found:

Van2010-6190

The 2010 Olympics section from the Vancouver Sun from March 2, 2010.

My 2014 Olympics uniform for Sochi 2014 in Russia.
Van2010-6205

My BCMC media accreditation badge, official IPC (International Paralympic Committee) media accreditation badge, and my IPC photographer sleeve from Vancouver 2010.

Van2010-6212

Sochi 2014 media badge from Sochi House at Vancouver 2010, My True North Media House badge, House of Switzerland media badge, Holland House Press card, and Samsung media badge. All from Vancouver 2010.

Van2010-6228

Vancouver 2010 Ice Hockey and Speed Skating tickets, and London 2012 Athletics ticket.

Van2010-6236

My pin and memorabilia collection from Vancouver 2010, and a single pin from London 2012.

Van2010-6238

My Canada t-shirt that I wore at London 2012, and an awesome “eh!” t-shirt given to me to wear at Sochi 2014.

Van2010-6241

A mix of Vancouver 2010 and Sochi 2014 clothing to wear as my Sochi 2014 fan uniform.

Van2010-6243

The Vancouver 2010 mascots! Quatchi, Miga, Mukmuk, and Sumi.

 

What’s This Kickstarter Thing?

I’ve recently launched my first Kickstarter campaign to support the creation and publication of my very first photography book! YAY! I’m so excited that after 2 days I’m already at 10% of my fundraising goal, but there is much work left to be done to raise the balance of the funding and I’ve had a few people ask me, “What’s this Kickstarter thing?” So here’s a quick rundown.

What's this Kickstarter thing?

What is crowdfunding?

Crowdfunding is the collective effort of people to pool their money to support the efforts of other people. Crowdfunding is used to support a wide variety of activities, including creative projects, citizen journalism, support of artists by fans, startup company funding, and more. My Olympic Spirit Project is an example of a creative project.

How does Kickstarter work?

Thousands of creative projects are added to Kickstarter everyday. Each project is independently created and crafted by the person behind it. Every project creator sets their project’s funding goal and deadline. If people like the project, they can pledge money to make it happen.

Are you guaranteed to get funding?

No. With Kickstarter, projects will only get funded if the total funding goal is reached. If the project succeeds in reaching its funding target, all backers’ credit cards are charged when the project reaches its deadline. If the project falls short, no one is charged and the project does not get funded.

Funding on Kickstarter is all-or-nothing.

 

With the all-or-nothing model, it’s important to get the momentum of the campaign rolling early so that the campaign has a chance of getting on the “Staff Picks” page of the Kickstarter website. This allows the project to get more views within the crowdfunding community, and in turn more pledges.

Remember that your credit card does not get charged unless the project succeeds. Therefore your pledge is more important at the start than it is near the end of the funding deadline so that the momentum builds for the project. 

 

The Olympic Spirit ProjectWhat is the Olympic Spirit Project?

The Sochi 2014 Olympics have been labeled as the most controversial and most expensive Games of our time, and I feel that the Olympic spirit has been lost for many. Some are even boycotting the Games completely.

After experiencing the Olympic energy in Vancouver in 2010 as media and again in London in 2012 as a spectator, I am inspired to recreate that feeling in Sochi this February to support our athletes (and their competitors) as they compete in the biggest competition of their lives. The athletes have worked so hard to get to this point and it’s unfair to them not to support their efforts in what for most is a once in a lifetime opportunity to represent their country.

So I came up with The Olympic Spirit Project.

The goal of this project is to get on the ground in Sochi Russia for 10 days during the 2014 Olympic Winter Games to photograph and document the Olympic spirit. I will attend both official Olympic and cultural events and photograph the different ways that cultures celebrate a win, or display their disappointment in a loss. The images I capture during my time in Sochi will be edited and compiled into the Olympic Spirit photo book, with a targeted publishing date of September 2014.

Because funding on Kickstarter is all or nothing, I need your help to get the momentum rolling on the funding campaign now. Every dollar counts! Two dollars, five dollars, twenty-five dollars, it all adds up! And please share the project with your friends and family to help spread the Olympic Spirit even further!

In exchange for your generous support, I’m offering some great rewards. From digital and hard cover copies of the finished book to the opportunity to join me at an official Olympic event during the project! And of course every backer will be acknowledged and thanked in the book itself on the Project Contributors page.

Please click the Kickstarter button below to pledge your support today!

Pledge your support on Kickstarter

 

I thank you for your generosity and support, and look forward to creating an amazing and inspiring book!

If you have any questions about either Kickstarter or the Olympic Spirit Project, please shoot me an email or leave a comment below.

Announcing the Olympic Spirit Project

As most of you know, I am working to get to Sochi in February to photograph the fan and cultural side of the 2014 Olympics. I launched a fundraising campaign a few weeks back, and have received a lot of feedback that this campaign did not really encompass my passions. I appreciate all of your honest feedback and have as a result created a new project that encompasses my passions for photography and the Olympics and is way more ME!

I’m very excited to share with you, “The Olympic Spirit Project.” – http://bit.ly/spirit2014

The Olympic Spirit Project on Kickstarter

Vancouver 2010 Men's Gold Medal Game

Vancouver 2010 Men's Gold Medal Hockey

 

What Is The Olympic Spirit Project?

I feel that with all the controversy surrounding the 2014 Olympic Games, the Olympic spirit has been somewhat lost. This is unfair to our Canadian athletes as well as their international competitors who have worked HARD to qualify for the biggest competition of their lives. They need our support! This project is geared at reviving the Olympic spirit and putting the attention back where it belongs: On the Athletes!

The goal of the Olympic Spirit Project is to capture images illustrating the Olympic Spirit through the eyes of different cultures from around the globe,  in Sochi during the 2014 Olympic Winter Games. I will share some of the images and stories with you from Russia on my blog, and after the Games are over the images will be edited and compiled into a book, which will then be available for sale. The targeted publishing date is September 2014.

 

Vancouver 2010 - Men's Team Pursuit Speed Skating Gold Medal Team
Vancouver 2010 – Men’s Team Pursuit Speed Skating Gold Medal Team

 

Vancouver 2010 - Paralympic Alpine Skiing
Vancouver 2010 – Paralympic Alpine Skiing

 

Vancouver 2010 - Paralympic Medal Ceremony
Vancouver 2010 – Paralympic Medal Ceremony
 

What’s in it for you?

In return for your support, I am offering rewards from a hand written postcard from Russia to the opportunity to experience an official Olympic event with me at the Games. All backers will be acknowledged in the final printed book.

All Levels: Thank-You Postcard from Russia – All backers pledging $10 or more will receive a hand-written Postcard sent from Russia during the Olympic Games.

All Levels: Your Name Featured in the Book – All backers pledging to the project will acknowledged on the Project Contributors page in the final printed book.

$25 Level: 5-pack of postcards featuring images from the project, and a digital copy of the finished book.

$85 Level: A digital copy of the finished book, a signed 5×7 print featuring an image from the project, and a 5-pack of postcards featuring images from the project.

$150 Level: A digital copy of the finished book, 2 signed 8×10 prints featuring images from the project, and a 5-pack of postcards featuring images from the project.

$350 Level: A hard cover copy of the finished book, 10 prints of photos taken of your personal pocket-sized mascot (provided by you) at 10 Russian Olympic landmarks.

$1000 Level: 2 signed hard cover copies if the finished book, a signed 11×14 print featuring an image from the project, 10 prints of photos taken of your personal pocket-sized mascot (provided by you) at 10 Russian Olympic landmarks.

$1500 Level (9 available): 2 signed hard cover copies of the finished book, a (used) official 2014 Olympic event ticket, a signed 11×14 print of an images from the project, 10 prints of photos taken of your personal pocket-sized mascot (provided by you) at 10 Russian Olympic landmarks. (there are

$2000 Level (1 available): A ticket to join me at the 2014 Olympic Men’s and Ladies’ Team Pursuit Speed Skating event on February 21st, 2014 in Sochi Russia (flight, accommodations and related travel expenses not included). You will also receive 2 signed hard cover copies of the finished book, and a signed 11×14 print of an image from the project.

$2000 Level (1 available): A ticket to join me at the 2014 Olympic Women’s Hockey Play-off Semi-Final Game on February 17th, 2014 in Sochi Russia (flight, accommodations and related travel expenses not included). You will also receive 2 signed hard cover copies of the finished book, and a signed 11×14 print of an image from the project.

$2000 Level (1 available): A ticket to join me at the 2014 Olympic Men’s Hockey Play-off Quarter-Final Game on February 19th, 2014 in Sochi Russia (flight, accommodations and related travel expenses not included). You will also receive 2 hard cover copies of the finished book, and a signed 11×14 print of an image from the project.

$2500 Level (1 available): A ticket to join me at the 2014 Olympic Bronze Medal Men’s Hockey Game on February 22nd, 2014 in Sochi Russia (flight, accommodations and related travel expenses not included). You will also receive 2 hard cover copies of the finished book, and a signed 11×14 print of an image from the project.

All Levels: Karma points and huge gratitude from me! : )

How You Can Help

With your support this project will come to life. Click the Kickstarter button below for full project details and for an opportunity to contribute to rebuilding the Olympic Spirit for our athletes in Sochi this coming February.

Pledge your support on Kickstarter

THANK YOU for your support!

New Events to Debut at the Sochi 2014 Olympics Games

The biggest Winter Olympics in history is set to take place in the biggest country in the world starting on February 6th, 2014 in Sochi, Russia, and there are some new events making their Olympic debuts:

Ski Halfpipe – Men and Women

Halfpipe Skiing

Competitors get two separate runs in the preliminaries to qualify for two final runs for 12 skiers. Judges score on take off, height, landing and difficulty of trick. Skiers are ranked based on highest score taken out of the two final runs.

Women’s Ski Jumping

Ski Jumping

Each competitor gets two runs, and are scored based on distance and style. The athlete with the highest combined score from all four jumps is the winner.

Biathlon Mixed Relay

Biathlon

There are two males and two females per team. Female athletes start the relay, each with two six-kilometer kegs. The two male athletes then follow with two 7.5-kilometer kegs. Each competitor shoots twice (one prone, one standing) and there is a 150 km penalty loop is added on for each miss. The team with the lowest combined time wins.

Figure Skating Team Event

Figure Skating

Teams of six skaters from each country perform in four separate categories: men’s, women’s, pairs and dance. There will be two skaters each for pairs and dance, and one male and one female skater for individual runs. The team with the highest aggregated score wins. The event will be spread over three days.

Luge Team Relay

Luge Team Relay

The new race format comprises three teams: a doubles sled, a woman’s single sled and a men’s single sled. Each sled slides one after the other as teams compete for the fastest combined time. A touch pad at the finish line must be activated by a teammate to open the gate for the next sled in line.

Ski Slopestyle

Ski Slope Skiing

Skiers make their way down an obstacle course of rails, jumps and other features. They are judged on the quality, style and originality of their tricks in both men’s and women’s competitions.

Snowboard Parallel Special Slalom

Snowboarding

Athletes race head-to-head downhill between gates. The one who gets to the bottom first, without falling, wins. This event is seen as more technically challenging than the snowboard parallel giant slalom, which was introduced to the Olympics in 2002.

Snowboard Slopestyle

Snowboard Slope Style

Snowboard slopestyle works the same way as its ski counterpart: athletes jump, twist and grind down an obstacle course and are judged on the tricks they perform. Both men and women will compete.

 

Luge Relay Debuts at Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games

Take an in-depth look at the Luge Relay event as they build to its Olympic debut at the upcoming Sochi 2014 Winter Games.

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Reflecting on 2013

With the new year quickly approaching, I’ve spent some time in the past few days reflecting on 2013:

Richters Family ReunionI welcomed 2013 with good friends and a fun night out.

In February, I purchased my #Sochi2014 Olympics tickets and committed to a crazy adventure.

In March I fell in love (again) as our family welcomed my niece into the world. She is adorably beautiful and the love I feel every moment I spend with her fills me with joy.

I had a bad fall in the spring, and spent the time while I recovered rediscovering myself and my strength. There were some rough days, but  I appreciate every moment of that challenging time.

Nairn Falls, Whistler BCIn July we celebrated my dad’s 70th birthday (any my nephew’s 5th) with a family reunion, including some family who came from Holland.

In August, my parents celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary, a truly inspiring reminder that life-long love exists.

I spent the summer discovering new places and new experiences. I made a commitment to try something new or go somewhere new at least once a week. It was a great way to discover this beautiful place we live in!

In late summer I regained a friend I thought I had lost, and let go of someone else I had hopes of repairing things with. It was an interesting and freeing breakthrough to realize that some things just aren’t meant to be, and holding on to them only taxes your well-being and emotions.

Tamarindo Beach

In October, I made a huge life choice and purged most of my possessions, moved out of my Vancouver apartment, put the stuff I had remaining into storage, and booked a plane ticket!

In November, I got on that plane to Costa Rica to begin a new life adventure focused on freedom and living my life for me, living a life I love!

I returned from Costa Rica in December with a new outlook of what I want life to look like. (It does not include a daily commute to a 9-5 job in a cubicle.)

I joined a gym in 2013, and worked my butt off to get into the best shape of my life. I had a few injuries throughout the year, which set me back, and stopped me from achieving my one fitness goal of the year (to run a half marathon), but it felt amazing to feel what my body is capable of with a little push and determination.

I’ve spent December planning my upcoming travels and adventures in Europe and Russia and cannot wait to tell you all about it as it happens!

Whistler Olympic Rings

I launched a fundraising campaign with a team of journalists, to help us get to Russia to report on the fan and cultural experience of the Sochi 2014 Olympics. See the campaign at bit.ly/TheRealSochi.

It has been an incredible year with tons of personal growth and life changes. I’m so excited to see what 2014 will bring in the months ahead! I look forward sharing my photos and experiences with you along the way and hope to inspire more of you to live a life that you truly love!

What are some of the great things that you experienced in 2013? And what are your aspirations for 2014?

The past has brought me great things, it has made me who I am. And the future is a clean slate and can bring me anything I want! Step one is to visualize it, and step two is to take the actions to make it happen!

Much love to you all for the year ahead! Live a Life You LOVE!

11 Gifts For Travellers on Your List

 

I’m always looking for new items to make my travels and more convenient, so I thought I would share some of the more convenient things that I take on my trips. If you’re looking for a gift for the traveler on your list, there may be a few items in this list that you want to consider.

11 Gifts For the Traveler on Your List

SpiBelt1. SpiBelt:

I bought one of these for my trip to Costa Rica and found it invaluable. It’s small enough that you can hide it under your clothes without it looking bulky, and it’s big enough to carry your iPhone, credit cards, some cash, and even your passport if you don’t want to carry a bag with you when venturing out for the day. I also found it great for my beach workouts, to hold my iPod so I could listen to music during my workout.

2. Money Belt:

I use my money belt while in transit to keep my travel documents, passport credit cards and extra cash on my person. I’m always extra cautious when in airports, bus stations and train stations of the people around me, and you can never be too careful with your personal documents.

3. Passport Cover:

If you know someone who travels a LOT, this would be a perfect gift! For frequent travellers, their passports get handled a lot and are therefore also at risk of being damaged when putting them in and pulling them out of bags and pockets. A passport cover will help avoid this type of damage.

Vapur Water Bottle

4. Vapur Water Bottle:

This is the perfect travel water bottle! I never travel without mine. It’s folds up to be small and compact when empty and comes with a convenient clip so you can connect it to the outside of any backpack or day bag for easy access while on the go.

5. Britta Water Bottle:

I don’t have one of these yet, but it’s on my wishlist for my next trip. It’s always nice to have good tasting water while traveling, and never a bad idea to filter out any micro particles that may be floating around in any water source. I drank the water almost everywhere in Costa Rice, but I did wish I had one of these for extra filtration. If you buy one as a gift for someone, you may want to also consider including some extra filters.

6. Travel Sheet:

Sometimes when traveling, you can’t avoid ending up in a hostel or hotel that isn’t always the cleanest. For these instances I carry a travel sheet so I can put a barrier between me and any potential germs. It folds up really small, is light weight and easy to pack around. I highly recommend this if you have a backpacker or new traveler on your list who is traveling on a budget. It’s always a score to find a $10 hostel, but sometimes you get what you pay for… Travel sheets are available in single and double size.

7. Apple World Travel Adapter Kit:

A great gift for the Mac user on your list. This kit will elimiate the need for any other power adapter for any Apple products you might be traveling with. It’s designed to work with iPod, iPhone, Apple MagSafe Power Adapters, Portable Power Adapters, and AirPort Express.


Apple Airport Express Basestation8. Apple Airport Express:

It’s not too common that I travel to places that don’t have wifi, but occasionally you end up at hotels that have only a wired connection available. In these cases, I take an Airport Express with me. It’s small and light to pack and very convenient when you don’t want to be limited by a cable. The Airport Express also has the removable plug so you can use your Apple World Travel Adapter Kit with it as well.

9. Apple iPad or iPad Mini:

This is still a wishlist item for me. I’d like to add one to my travel kit for reading e-books, to save space and weight in my pack currently taken up by books. If you don’t have a need to take a laptop with you on your travels, an iPad is a convenient tool for writing emails and doing online research during your trip, as well as uploading photos to Instagram and more. And of course, there are countless useful travel apps you can download on your trip.

10. Canon Powershot G15 Digital Camera:

If there’s one point and shoot camera I would recommend for great photos, it’s this one. I’ve taken this camera with me on a couple of trips now, as an alternative, compact option to my DSLR for day trips that involve adventures like zip lining or waterfall hiking. You can either have full control over the camera settings, or you can pop it on automatic and let it do everything for you. Either way, I’ve always come out with amazing images.

Timbuk2 Small Messenger Bag

11. Timbuk2 Small Messenger Bag:

I LOVE my Timbuk2 bag! I can fit my DSLR and an extra lens, a sarong for the beach or temple visit, and there are inside zipper pockets for my wallet, phone and personal items. AND, my Vapur water bottle clips to the strap no problem. Another thing I love about this bag is that the liner is waterproof, so if I happen to end up in tropical rain, as long as the bag is closed up, my stuff stays dry! This is a great all-purpose bag for life in general, I use mine all the time, not just for travel.

These are all items that I use, love and recommend. If you have any questions about anything, feel free to drop me an email or comment below. If you have other suggestions to add to the list, I’d love to hear about them as well; I’m always looking for ways to make my travels easier and more convenient.

“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” – Lao Tzu

What’s In My Camera Bag When I Travel

I’ve had a few questions regarding what’s in my camera bag when I travel, so here it is! I try to pack as lightly as possible and take only things that I know I will use, to avoid carrying around too many “just in case” items.

Computer & Camera Gear

Apple iPhone 5:

I always carry my unlocked iPhone with me when I travel. Depending on the trip, I may get a local SIM card at my destination, or I’ll just rely on local wifi. I use my phone on to check reviews for restaurants, hotels and attractions online or on Trip Advisor. And of course for the more fun stuff like quick happy snaps to post to Instagram or Facebook during the trip.

Apple 13″ Macbook Pro:

Because I do a lot of photography when I travel, I need to download my images on the go. Although I’m drooling over the new MacBook Air, at the moment I’m traveling with my 13″ MacBook Pro. I use an InCase neoprene sleeve, as well as an InCase hardshell casing to protect it from scratches and other potential surface damage. I also use an iSkin ProTouch Keyboard Protector to avoid any unwanted dust or sand (or tiny tropical bugs?) to get in between the keys. And of course I carry the power supply and depending where I’m traveling to, I will also carry the required Apple Travel Adaptors.

External Portable Battery Pack Charger for Smartphones:

If you use your smartphone camera and social media apps as much as I do, your battery probably isn’t going to last as long as you like. So I carry a portable battery charger to recharge my phone on the go, no outlet required.

Nikon D7000 DSLR CameraNikon D7000 16MP Camera:

I recently upgraded from my Nikon D90 to the D7000. Costa Rica was my first trip with this camera and I loved shooting with it. The biggest improvement over the D90 is the low light photography, with the capability to go to 6400 iso, while the D90 was limited to 3200 iso. It shoots amazing HD video as well.

Nikon 35mm f/1.8 Lens:

The 35mm lens is just wide enough to capture environmental shots like landscapes, and have the depth of field needed for portraits and close ups. For travel photography, the fixed focal length forces you to get close to the action, which helps you get over your shyness of shooting in new places. The 1.8 aperture is perfect for catching sharp images in low light conditions. I’ve found that using a prime lens has been great for crafting my photography skills and image framing. I also found, during my travels in Costa Rica, that the 35mm lens was excellent for shooting video.

Nikon 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens:

A perfect all-purpose lens. I’ve taken many trips with a downsized kit and  carried only this lens, and have always been happy with its’ versatility. You have the wide angle at 18mm for those landscape shots and then decent zoom ability up to 105mm for those more intimate shots. I love this lens and don’t see it leaving my kit any time soon.

Nikon 70-300mm Zoom Lens:

This is a good lens to have with you if you’re doing nature or sports photography. I used this lens quite a bit while in Costa Rica to shoot wildlife that you either cannot or should not get to close to (eg. crocodiles). I also used this lens a lot during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver to shoot the sporting events and caught some amazing images! If you travel with this lens, I recommend also carrying a tripod or monopod, as the more you zoom, the more camera shake becomes an issue.

Canon Powershot G12Canon Powershot G15 Digital Camera:

I always take a point and shoot camera with me when I travel for those crazy adventures (like zipling) that make it difficult to carry a DLSR. I chose the Canon G12. This camera gives you to shoot on full automatic mode, while also allowing you the option to fully control everything manually. It’s a great camera to have for scuba diving as well, in which case you would need to buy an underwater housing for it.

Western Digital 1TB Portable Hard Drive:

It’s always a good idea to back up your images and other data while traveling. For this reason I carry a portable external hard drive with me when I travel. I shoot in RAW format, so storing them in the cloud is not always ideal with such large files and unreliable internet connections. An external drive is always a good alternative.

32GB USB Flash Drive:

I use this to transfer files and images from people I meet along the way. These days most people travel with a small laptop or an iPad and when you have fun experiences with people, it’s always fun to share the images. A USB stick makes that quick, easy and instant, instead of relying on people to send you the images via email later.

Circular Polarizing Filter:

Polarizing filters increase color saturation and decrease reflections. This is one of the only lens filters that (so far) cannot be replicated using digital photo editing. This filter is an indispensable tool that I always keep in my camera bag. They can get fairly expensive, but they are worth every penny!

Joby GorillaPodJoby GorillaPod:

This is a great alternative to carrying around a big bulky tripod. The legs are designed to wrap around and bend, allowing you to attach the tripod securely to almost any surface. It’s small and compact and will fit into your daypack or shoulder bag.

Sandisk SD Memory Cards:

You can never have too many memory cards. Conveniently, both my DSLR and my G12 use the same type of memory cards. I currently have one 32gb card, two 16gb cards and four 8gb cards. I switch them out and download the images to my external hard drive right away, but then I avoid formatting the cards until I need more space, and then I start with the oldest images first. I mark each memory card with a sticker, so I know which order to use them in. This allows for an additional backup, just in case.

Lens Cleaning Cloth:

This goes without saying, but you should always have a clean lens! Carrying a lens cleaning cloth is always a good idea to avoid wiping your lens with your potentially sunscreen or sweat contaminated clothing, which may leave greasy streaks on your lens.

Lens Cleaning Wipes:

I carry a few of these as an alternative to the lens cleaning cloth. They are moist cloths that help remove any oils you may get on your lens. It’s not a bad idea to keep a few around, they’re small and don’t take up much space. I generally use these after any big day trips to ensure my lenses are clean for the next adventure. If you have any questions, please comment below, or feel free to email me.

What must-haves to you carry in your camera bag when you travel?

The Tropical Hangover

The Tropical Hangover…

I’m feeling it. I’m feeling it baaaaad!

It’s been a week since I spent my last full day in Costa Rica. I started that morning like every other morning: on the beach with a kickass workout. After my workout tho, I had a bit of an emotional moment while cooling off with a swim. I stood there, water waist high, and looked out at the ocean. I closed my eyes, breathed in the tropical air, listened to the waves and tried to imprint that moment into my mind.

I didn’t want to leave.

Costa Rica Sunset in Tamarindo

My time in Costa Rica had an impact on me that I did not expect. I’ve done a good amount of traveling over the years, and of all the places I’ve been, I’ve never felt at home like I did in Costa Rica. It seems I’m not the only one with this feeling. In Tamarindo, where I spent about half of my time, there are a ton of expats. People who have realized that a simpler life is where their happiness lives. Most have sold their homes and possessions and transplanted their lives to this beautiful paradise.

You don’t need much to be happy. This became abundantly clear during my time there. I left Canada with one suitcase and a backpack for my camera gear. I probably only used about half of the stuff I packed. I could have packed carry-on luggage and had everything I needed. This really showed me that I don’t need much to be completely satisfied in life. Some of my must haves: sun, beach, heat, fresh foods, and daily workouts. All of these things are provided by the location and cannot be packed in a suitcase! Everything else can be bought when I get there.

I returned to Vancouver last week to -10 degrees celsius. My body is still in shock a week later. The cold dry air is sucking the tan right out of my skin and has me moisturizing at least twice a day. All I can think about is getting back to that life where I spent my days in shorts and tank top, or some days I wore nothing but my bikini all day! Now, I have to layer up just to take out the garbage. “No me gusta!”

So now my only thought is:

“Get back there as soon as possible!”

Time to get my ducks in a row and make that happen! But first: The Olympics!