Gabriel Nivera

Pictures & Conversations

A collection of images and the stories behind their creation.

Heading West

California, USA

I have spent the past 10 years based on the East Coast.  But now it is time for something new. Having lived in Boston, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Manila, the UK, and up until this month, Toronto, moving is something I actually enjoy and look forward to.  It feels like a renewal. Over the past two years I have been yearning for a change of scene.  I was not sure where but I did have a one major requirement - a mild winter.  Having grown up in the tropical heat, the brief summers in Toronto were never enough to satisfy.  Coupled with a winter that lasted from November to March, with the occasional dusting of snow in April it was far too long for my liking.

I looked longingly at the West Coast, which had 3 of 5 cities I was considering, 2 of which were in California.  It was at the top of my list since in the past 5 years I have been going back and forth extensively for work. California has always been special to me.  Growing up I would spend summers in the Bay Area with my extended family.  As a family we would make annual pilgrimages to Muir Woods, Yosemite & Redwood National Parks.  We would take the PCH to Big Sur, stopping to marvel at the aquarium in Monterey, wind our way to Santa Barbara, pop into Disneyland and cruise on down to San Diego.   My father would let me use his camera to take all the photographs I wanted, an expensive proposition when shooting slide film.  These trips exposed me to breathtaking landscapes and unforgettable scenery. I am convinced they helped mold my visual style and love for travel.

I chose to make LA my new base of opeartions, a city which I never really spent much time in growing up, save passing through it on the way to Disneyland or San Diego.  But it is a city I  grew incredibly fond of working in when I became a photographer.  I may have been swayed by memories of lavish productions. Set-life is always seen through rose-colored glasses; staying in posh hotels by the beach, enjoying delicious borderline-gluttonous dinners, being driven to and from location oblivious to the traffic on the 10 or 405.  Living here will probably be very different than jetting in for a week at a time, but I am excited.  I am excited to be able to visit and camp in Joshua Tree more often, ride my bike through the canyons, try my hand a surfing, shoot all year round in shorts and flip flops, access the nearby states that make up the Great American West, and of course be closer to family in SF and Manila.  What excites me the most about the move is the same thing that fuels my love for being a photographer; no day/assignment is ever the same! New challenges always arise; be it unknown locations, interesting characters to meet, and incredible once in a lifetime experiences.