How One Year Changed Everything
A lot has taken place positively in my life over the past year. Of course with all upsides, there will be inevitable downsides that transpire with it. If I was to reach back to a point within the last year that I can firmly place a changing point in my life on, it would be my 27th birthday that took place in Shanghai, China.
Chapter 1: China
Have you ever been to China? It’s seriously not what I had envisioned it to be like. We hear the news and we see how many things are “Made in China” but nothing really prepared me for what it was truely like.
*Please visit my blog “China - 21 Days Exploring the Unknown” for a more in depth perspective.
China is certainly not a 1st world country like Canada. In fact it’s very well still a developing country. It also marks the first country I’ve been to of that standard which really allowed me to gain an understanding into a world I knew nothing about.
My friend Mark Harrison had been teaching in China for four years by this point and it was amazing to meet up with someone so passionate about the same hobbies as myself. This is where my life hit a turning point.
I had been taking my photography seriously for a while but nothing out of the ordinary. I would post on Instagram or Facebook from time to time and throw up the famous #hashtags. Creativity was there but I wasn’t going outside of my comfort zone. You may be thinking... I just went to China for three weeks by myself, how’s that not out of your comfort zone? That’s the difference in comforts. From travelling previously, I’ve gained that comfort and desire to want to see more on the travelling side of things but when it came to my own hobbies I was stuck.
Mark inspired me with ideas and suggestions on how I could push what I already knew to another level. I had exactly one day in Shanghai before I turned 27 years old and couldn’t think of a better time to set a plan into action. I’m going to post a photo a day on Instagram! Not just any photo anymore. High quality with a proper description with the intent to inspire others just how I’ve been inspired.
That was the original plan but it didn’t stop there. Mark had asked if I ever did stories on Instagram. I said no because I wasn’t comfortable speaking to a camera. I’ve always been the one behind the lens unless I was riding BMX in front of it. What better time then now to become comfortable than in a land where English is far and in between, along with someone who is already comfortable and engaging. From then on, I was creating stories. I was shy at first, and self-conscious about what others may think of me talking to my phone, but that changed as time went on. It’s just like anything you do... Eventually you become accustomed to certain actions and confident at what you’re doing.
Throughout the rest of China, I made sure to post every day and create engaging stories for everyone to follow along with. This was such a great way to allow my friends and family back home to see what I’ve been up to on a day to day basis.
Let’s move on to this next stage...
Chapter 2: The Arctic of Canada
The previous winter, I had worked for a company called Silverline Communications installing fibre optics up in the Northwest Territories of Canada. Silverline was owned and operated by my good friends parents so I always wanted to help out where I could. When the opportunity came around again, I couldn’t pass it up!
A very small percentage of people get the chance to experience the arctic regions in the world. Rightfully so, it’s insanely expensive! I couldn’t be more thankful for this opportunity.
How did working in the Arctic help shape my life to where it is today? The work was tough and the hours long. We cleared over 100 hours in a single week working in -30 degree weather, it sucked to say the least. Daylight was minimal during the winter months, sometimes only seeing the sun for a couple hours. It became depressing at times but when you’re on the shuttle back to camp at 9pm (21:00) and you see the beautiful northern lights dancing above you, it all makes it worthwhile!
The point to all this is that not everything in life comes easy. You have to work hard to get where you want to be and living/working above the arctic circle has taught me that.
Where did it go from here?
Choosing the Path (Part 1)
After working in the arctic, I had envisions of working with Silverline throughout the summer months in hopes of putting a bunch of money away for travel. I began working out in Vancouver, British Columbia continuing to install fibre optics for the company. It was great! Accommodations, food and gas was all covered which made it an easy way to make money. Unfortunately, time off was far and in between. I had a life I still wanted to live, so I made commitments to myself to progress in photography and videography.
I began to listen to podcasts and listening to e-books while taking transit or in waiting rooms. Time management became my number one friend! Wherever I was, I knew there was something I could be doing. Maybe it was setting up future Instagram posts, editing photos or video that was recently shot and/or watching some kind of tutorial.
I couldn’t sit still and watch TV anymore. I was diagnosed with ADD when I was younger, could this be an adult version kicking in? It’s possible but I like to consider it a side effect of positive motivation from everyone I know.
A lot of the guys I worked with would go home after work and crack open a case of beer to end their night. Repeat the next day. I couldn’t do that. How could I throw away the only hours of the day I have free time to focus on what I wanted to do. Luckily, I had a couple really good friends whom I worked with, Simon and Aaron. They continued to motivate me at what I was doing and backed my decisions up.
When you don’t partake in similar actions to those around you, you become sort of an outcast that no one is interested in. That leads to perhaps jealousy or aggression. Such was the case with myself. I was working in a construction field doing my absolute best but my passion wasn’t there. The guys I worked with were either committed long term or had no choice due to financial issues.
Over time, eventually the other workers turned against me and purposely worked against me in the hopes that I would either quit or be fired. I continued to fix mistakes and after mistakes from other employees without question but when the time came that I made a mistake, there was no hesitation for certain individuals to form against me. Serious accusations had been slandered against me to the point where I knew I couldn’t take it anymore and decided to quit.
I enjoyed working in the field but the stress levels were getting serious and it’s not enjoyable to work with people who are literally just there to make your days worse. Quitting was the best thing I could have done.
I moved in with my friend Corey Walsh up in Coquitlam, British Columbia and started putting 100% focus into my passion; Photography. I worked endlessly catching up on everything I had fallen behind on by working seven days a week. I got a message from Simon Fraser University (thanks to my amazing friend Elena) asking if I’d be interested in being their photographer for a Net Sustainability Challenge since there previous photographer dropped out. This was my chance! I accepted it on the spot, ordered a next day delivery flash for my camera off Amazon and got practicing.
While preparing for the shoot with SFU, my phone went off. It was my boss at Silverline calling and asking if I’d like to return to work and that he'd talked to the guys about the situation. By this point I had already bought a plane ticket home to surprise my parents for Easter, but was told I can fly back a few days later and the company will cover it. I canceled my flight and decided to go back to work with Silverline the following Monday that way I was still able to do the shoot with SFU.
The shoot went amazing by any standards and I met some of the most motivating people including the head of marketing for Telus. We drank some wine on the top floor of the Telus building in downtown Vancouver and watched the sun go down. First proper photo gig was a success!
Choosing the Path (Part 2)
Monday came and it was time to move back into the company house to begin working with Silverline. Upon starting however I learned that one of our other ground men who I had trouble with had quit. Is this why I was brought back? All of a sudden we’re short a guy who could read the blueprints and I get a call to return. I didn’t think anything of it at first and carried on.
I found myself getting placed into all the crappy scenarios but still put my effort into it knowing in my head that I was helping a family friend. As time went on, things began to get back to the way they were and similar accusations and frustrations took shape yet again. During the phone call to bring me back, both the boss and the owner had said if I ever dealt with similar problems again to reach out to them and we’ll fix it before it escalates.
As these problems began to occur again, I attempted to reach out to both of them with continued voicemails and no replies. My boss began to get smart with me when I tried to let him know of incidents and how much I’ve been fixing other people’s mistakes. It didn’t matter... In the end, the company was there to make money. If I screwed up, all hell broke loose. If my boss screwed up, then it was no big deal. I began to feel used and asked if the reason I was called back was because they needed someone to read the maps. My boss beat around the bush left and right and that’s when it all made sense. After asking around if my boss did in fact talk to anyone about the previous issues, I found out that was a complete lie as well. I then asked for Easter Sunday off work and was met with the remark stating “If you don’t want to come in on Sunday, don’t bother coming in at all.”
This is where the life changing event occurred. I promptly moved out of the company house at this point knowing there was no way I could continue working in this manner.
Upon reaching the airport a few days later at 6am to catch my flight home, I was told by the attendant that my flight had been cancelled. This confirmed to me that I was doing the right thing even more.
I do not regret working for this company at all and thank Silverline Communications for not only giving me an opportunity to work and build experience in the fibre optics field but also allowing me to see the light ahead.
Home & Motivation
Flying home knowing I no longer had a steady job was a relief and a motivational factor to put in the work I needed to do. The upcoming weeks were going to be packed full of adventures starting with an eight day trip to Iceland with Mark, followed up with a two week trip to Europe with my dad.
As the days lead up to Iceland, I knew I had to revamp my website not only to showcase photography, but also add videos and blogs along with it. I began the process of doing that with the intentions to have it launched by the summer of 2017.
I had purchased a photography tutorial called “Photographying the World, by Elia Locardi” which emphasizes specific destinations in Iceland. Continuing to concentrate on getting better, time management was really starting to kick in heavy. I found myself working on blogs in a corner of a room while everyone was partying and quietly in the backseat of a car during BMX road trips.
My mindset had shifted. Was it because I just left a secured 9-5 job or was it because I knew for the first time in my life what I wanted to accomplish?
Coming into Iceland I had prepared for what would be a nonstop mission to capture the most beautiful images. Mark and I would be working with CheapJeep Rentals out of Keflavik, helping out with their social media and capturing content throughout the journey. Mark would be taking care of mainly the video portion and I’ll be doing most of the photography.
Just like my previous venture in China with Mark, it was nothing short of progressive. Right from the get go, we were giving each other tips and looking at ways to improve.
*Please check out my blog “8 Days in the Land of Fire & Ice” if you’d like the full scoop of the adventure!
The biggest influence I got from these eight days was the desire to go back to where it all began for me - Videography. I had been heavily involved with video before I got into photos but it eventually took a backseat. This trip made me realize that I can do both equally, why not pursue it?
Gathering the knowledge I left Iceland with knowing that I still have a true passion for videography, I went ahead and ordered a Zhiyun Smooth C+ stabilizer, a DJI Mavic Pro drone and a GoPro Hero 5. That was a huge chunk of change that I had saved up while working in the fibre optics industry but I had faith that it was going to work itself out.
The old saying goes... You have to spend money in order to make money.
This European vacation happened for a few different reasons:
1) My dad has never left Canada or the USA, this was an opportunity to show him a different side of the world.
2) He had just retired from over 30 years working at Chrysler’s with his 59th birthday coming up. What better way to celebrate!?
3) A bonding moment of a lifetime. Over the 27 years I’ve been alive, I’ve witnessed my father work steady midnights to be where he is at and I want to give back to him by allowing him to see first hand where my path is heading.
4) Fourth and final, he’s going to get the chance to meet my French family that I had become a part of while leaving in Strasbourg, France. Christiane Marconi, Danou and Loris Aubrey, Arnaud and Florian Wolff. I learned so much from these five and their families that I’d give my heart to them.
Heading into this big adventure I knew I wanted to make a YouTube series out of it. Right from the start, I knew my intentions and would follow through. This would be the kickstart to my YouTube channel.
*If you’d like to check out the series, please visit “Roady Goes to Europe”.
*If you’d like to read the blog post of our trip, please check out “European Excursion - 14 Days with Roady”.
While we travelled throughout Europe is when I started to get more international engagement through followers on Instagram asking about certain locations and insight. This is when it really clicked. I want to inspire people to see these places with their own eyes!
One Way Ticket to the Rockies
Once back from Europe, I knew I could sit still. I continued to work endlessly making the Roady Goes to Europe four part YouTube series, along with editing the photos from the trip coinciding with the website I was creating. I made myself a deadline of one week so that we could premiere the video to all my dads friends while everything was still fresh.
Everyone loved it and the positive reactions I got were amazing! Thank you all so much for encouraging my dad to go along with this trip of a lifetime. Couldn’t have asked for a better travelling partner!
Then one day while driving through Windsor with my good friend Spank, I decided I needed to take off again. I checked out cheap flights to Calgary for the summer since it was Canada’s 150th anniversary and couldn’t think of a better way to spend it than in the Rocky Mountains.
You’re able to get some pretty cheap flights if you’re lenient on when you travel. I was able to find a one-way direct from Windsor for only $270 on June 22nd.
June 21st marked the first day of summer which also happens to be Go Skateboarding Day so I headed down to the local skatepark to see everyone one last time before flying out. The next morning I was on my flight to Calgary!
I arrived in Calgary and was booked up by my buddy Dan Orchard who had just recently quit working for Red Bull in order to pursue his own passion of leather making. He showed me around his work space and enlightened me with his ideas and goals. Truly inspirational!
*Make sure to check out my blog post titled “Into the Rockies: Lake of the Hanging Glacier” to learn more about my trip and Dan’s company - Victory Made Goods.
The next day, we headed into the mountains for some camping where my adventure would be taking off. I had messaged a few friends that had moved out to the Rockies over the years from back home with intentions of catching up with them and doing some exploring together.
The first was my friend Corey Shuker. He was apart of our little crew called BaconEggs (BNE) from back home and was enjoying his first experience in the Rockies. He came and picked me up in Banff and we went out to Fairmont Hot Springs, British Columba where he was living.
It was there when we were deciding what overnight hike we should do but couldn’t find any info on a place called Top of the World Provincial Park. No videos or anything. I decided to document our whole hike and make a YouTube video out of it. That’s when the idea clicked in! I’m going to document every hike I do from here on out and post it on YouTube so that way others looking for information can get a visual idea of what to expect.
*Please see my YouTube series “Hiking in the Canadian Rockies” for more!
The next place I’d be visiting was my friend Dan Dolson who I hadn’t seen in years. He was now working as the Security Supervisor at Sunshine Village and offered me a place to stay for the night since he was on call.
Just so happens that the day I arrive, one of his employees was taking a leave of absence and that he’d be looking for someone to replace her in the mean time. We shot around the idea a bit and discussed finances before I accepted the job as Security Officer starting August 1st. If you’re unfamiliar with Sunshine Village, it is located at an elevation of 2,200m in the Canadian Rockies and offers quick access to a number of hikes.
I just unintentionally moved into Banff, Alberta and it gets even better...
A Moment I’ll Never Forget
Since accepting the position at Sunshine Village (SSV), I had one month of doing whatever I want in the Canadian Rockies. Let’s make the most of it!
The next day while Dan and I were descending from Cascade Mountain, I found out that my good friend Deaven Brooksbank was actually living in Banff at the moment. I had no idea! After my first ascent of the year on a mountain 3,000m tall, I was anxious to kick it with Deav. Not long after, I met his girlfriend Kim and the rest of his housemates.
Knowing a had only 30 days to get as much done as possible, I began hiking like crazy starting with a 5-day, 105km hike to Mt. Assiniboine. Soon after I began knocking off peak after peak while shooting hundreds of photos and hours of video preparing for the days when it rains to edit inside.
One evening while enjoying an afternoon at my buddy Rejean’s place in Canmore, I received a message from Kim asking if I’d be interested in being a photographer/videographer for Lululemon Banff. Whattt! Did that question really just happen?!
*For those that don’t know about lululemon, they’re an athletic brand based out of Vancouver, Canada and offer a wide range of premium soft goods.
Of course, I accepted that deal and over the next couple months became more involved with the brand and also the family within.
It’s insane to think about how far we’ve come in the world of technology. The fact that I’m writing this blog alone that has the potential to reach millions of people still blows my mind.
Word of mouth however is still an invaluable source when it comes to spreading the word. It’s completely engaging on a personal level and you get to hear the true satisfaction from one person to another. It’s this word of mouth that aspired the next step in my videography career.
Rafael Lopez from Wander Adventure Company (WAC) reaches out to me via email after hearing my experiences from a representative at Lululemon.
*Wander Adventure Company is currently in their start up phase and will be offering individuals and/or groups adventure tourism through the use of outdoor activities.
*If you’d like to see more from them, check out their “BoostR Ad Campaign” that I filmed with them.
This just shows how much of an impact you can have by giving your absolute best with the tools you have. Big thanks to everyone at Lululemon Banff, as well as Raf, Shirl and Ted at Wander Adventure Company for these amazing opportunities.
As the summer continued on and I started working at SSV, it gave me plenty of time to focus on my future plans. I completed my website that was initially planned for the beginning of summer and launched in on September 1st, coinciding with the launch of my YouTube channel.
From there, I continued to push myself in creating additional content in ways that would be not only memorable to myself but educational to others.
I was keeping a close eye on specific job openings for the winter season here at SSV, specifically in the marketing department. With the help of Dan and continuously nudging my way into the conversation, I was offered the position of Social Media Assistant for the entire 2017/2018 Winter season.
I’m incredibly excited to begin working in the marketing industry doing what I love! I firmly believe that each and every action taken throughout this year has helped shape the path I am on now.
*Since posting this blog, I had gone back to working in Security at Sunshine Village and then "broke my femur snowboarding".
With the winter season just moments away and the transition into a new beginning knocking at the doorstep; The path I’ve chosen doesn’t end there.