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Amsterdam was my first solo travel experience. I couldn’t have chosen a better place to spend time alone reflecting on life and working with intention on my photography. Amsterdam is a gorgeous place full of some of the nicest most interesting people in the world. I wandered the streets from sunup to sunset taking photographs.

Right before Amsterdam, I spent 4 days in Köln, Germany for Way Up North with Kirk Mastin, founder of Mastin Labs. Kirk’s talk on treating your career like a bonsai tree has always resonated with me. I’m lucky, I’ve heard it many times and each time I am reinspired to work with intention. The core of the talk is to cut away the excess to reveal your best work.

Its emotional work to trim each gallery down but rewarding and cathartic. Although I shot hundreds of frames (I chose to shoot digitally with a Sony A7riii on this trip), this post only contains the ones I am most proud of as I try to put Kirk’s advice into action.

We had a few hours on our last day to wander the city of Köln where I had the opportunity to watch Kirk shoot. Having a mentor has been one of the most amazing experiences. Watching Kirk shoot while asking questions about his approach sent me in the right direction with my Amsterdam street photography. I focused on finding interesting light that drew the eye to the most important part of the photograph, colors and building layers. The biggest lesson Kirk taught me was to be patient and wait for the shot. It’s the part I struggled with the most. I know I abandoned some shots early, settling for “okay” instead of waiting on capturing exactly what I wanted.

A major highlight of my trip to Amsterdam was getting my portrait taken on wet plate. This photographer was set up with a mobile dark room in a square near The Anne Frank House. He was Hungarian and moved all around Europe taking portraits on wet plate with his wife as his photo assistant. The camera had been hit by a cyclist the day before and was now being held together with clips. Regardless of it’s injuries it made a beautiful portrait of me.

Amsterdam is the first place in the world I’ve ever traveled that I’ve honestly considered moving to. I am in love with Seattle so that’s pretty telling about what Amsterdam has to offer. Who knows, maybe one day I will live there. Thanks to the people of Amsterdam for making me feel so at home.