Not All Beauty Lies in Nature

Growing up in Colorado, I was surrounded by beautiful landscapes.  Radical weather would create incredible storms, sunsets, and rainbows that would always speak to my soul.  My mom would take me on many road trips to various locations, and my dad would take me camping and out on random adventures in New York.  I've always viewed life through rose-colored glasses, and never really thought twice about people or places that didn't have the same luxuries.

I was a few months into my cruise ship adventure, travelling through the Caribbean, the Panama Canal, Alaska and Hawaii.  Everything I had seen was beautiful, and nature at its finest.  This all changed the moment we arrived in Chuuk, Micronesia. 

Looking into the port was a wreckage of ships, trash and a community that barely had the essentials.  I wasn't sure I even wanted to go out but figured I might as well see what it had to offer.  Upon exiting the ship in an effort to find something "pretty," the first thing I came across was a coffin. 

Although I still do not know why it was there, it was a moment I would never forget.  Something to wake me up and remind me that life is not something to be taken for granted, and not everything in life is "rose-colored."

As I began walking around the town I was struggling to find anything to take pictures of.  I was looking for mountains, wildlife, flowers etc, but to no avail.  I finally found a flower bush, "the best picture thus far," I thought to myself. 

I was walking along the muddy streets, through the broken down neighborhoods, and one thing always caught my attention.  Any person that saw me with my camera would immediately get excited and motion for me to take their picture with the biggest smile on their face. 

At first I wasn't really into it, but I later realized those are some of the most beautiful images I have.  It wasn't until I was back in the photo lab, sorting through all my colleagues' photos, that I realized the beauty was not in nature. 

The people, their expressions and their life is what truly make the photo.  It is their raw self in some of the worst living conditions, yet they have the biggest smile on their face.

I instantly gained a new appreciation for culture and capturing it in a way that truly showcases what its like to live on the same planet, but different worlds.