photo of Me friend Jeremy and I

HOW I ENDED UP IN A GQ PHOTOSHOOT WHILE TRAVELING

Posted on Posted in Everything Else, Trips in Western United States

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” -Henry Miller

In September of 2013 I got to see first-hand just how getting out of your comfort zone can allow for amazing things to happen.  I believe that everything happens for a reason, and this particular trip was proof of that.

I drove around parts of Route 1 (north) and made various stops along the way.  I found many beautiful beaches with incredible panoramic views.  Many of the beaches were empty, and I was able to enjoy them for myself.  I also took the time to visit some of the shops local to Morro Bay and check out Morro Rock.  By the way, I stayed in Morro Bay at the Sundown Inn, which was an awesome and inexpensive little retro motel.  You can check out my review of the motel by clicking here.

I met up with some friends that live in San Luis Obispo and we took a rather strenuous hike up Bishop’s Peak.  For those who don’t know, Bishop’s Peak is a volcanic plug that reaches a height of over 1,500 ft in San Luis Obispo, California.  We made it to the top, which was super rewarding since I was not in the best shape in the world!  We made it just in time for a gorgeous sunset!  The views were breathtaking.  Despite the difficulty, it was certainly worth it.

Big Sur Quote -
Big Sur Quote – “I’ve seen this landscape in my dreams, never knowing it exists til now.”

My trip ended in a big way.  The drive up route 1 began around 10am on Thursday morning.  My friends and I started in San Luis Obispo and worked our way north.  The weather was perfect, which made sightseeing even better!  We went further north than I have ever been, with a goal of reaching Big Sur.  My friend said he knew of a little coffee shop in Big Sur that he wanted to stop at, so that’s what we did.  It was a quaint little cabin-esque place.  The people were friendly and the food/drinks were great.

As we were sitting outside of the cafe talking, we noticed a couple of people with cameras shooting video and still photos.  Two guys were awkwardly close to our table and making funny comments.  I didn’t know what the hell was going on.  Eventually, a lady came up to us and said that they were doing a photoshoot and that we were in the frame – but the photographer seemed to like us there.  She asked if it was OK that we stay in the background of the shot and if we could sign a model release.  Once we asked what this was for, she said “we are shooting a BMW ad that will be going into GQ.”

Of course we signed the release!  

I felt inclined to ask the woman about the photographer.  She said, “his name is Cliff Watts.”  I’m not very savvy on contemporary photographers so the name didn’t ring a bell to me.  Nonetheless, I asked if I could speak to him when he was finished with the shoot and happily, she agreed.

Once the shoot was complete, they called me into the restaurant.  Cliff was kind enough to sit down and talk to me.  He was down to earth, friendly and talking to him was a breeze.  He was so open and talked to me like we were friends.  It was an incredible experience to be able to ask him questions and chat with him since I have a love for photography.  He also said a few things that really made me think about my own artistic goals.  Shortly after talking, we left the cafe to end our adventure at Bixby Bridge.  I felt like I was walking on air.

I did some research on Mr. Watts that evening and his portfolio shows photos he has taken of everyone from Usher to James Franco and even Beyonce.  I’m pretty sure my heart skipped a few beats.  Not only that but one of the men that was standing by our table getting the photos/video done was actor Peter Facinelli (known for many roles – one including the film Twilight).  How did I not realize this at the time?!?

What were the odds of a celebrity photographer shooting at a small cafe in Big Sur at the exact moment as me?

Since that trip, I saw the published magazine and while I was not in the background of the photos, I caught a quick glimpse of me in the background of a video they put on the website for Mission Electric.

Big Sur Bakery Cafe
Me in the background of a short video for BMW and GQ at the Big Sur Bakery Cafe (You can see the entire video here)

That trip taught me so much.  I met so many amazing people and saw so many incredible sights.  My favorite area was most definitely Big Sur.  I now consider it my happy place.

Nearly one year later, I am still in touch with the awesome people who sat next to me on that flight to San Jose.

I believe that everyone I met on that trip stepped into my path for a reason.  Everyone from the airplane all the way to the cliffs of Big Sur made the experience unforgettable.  I also can’t thank my 3 friends out in Cali enough for spending so much time with me.  That trip  helped me see things a little bit more clearly – and it even re-ignited some much needed inspiration.

I can’t wait to relive Big Sur all over again this November!

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