If I’m Being Honest…

My name is Justin. I like to drive around and find foggy/snowy forests and make really moody photos. A lot of laughter happens on these trips, but that’s always before and after the moments when I’m pressing the shutter button.

I usually post these photos with an equally moody song lyric or quote. A lot of people think the lyric choice is really thought out. It isn’t. I just like music and hate writing my own captions.

Some people msg me and tell me they cringe when they see my photos and it makes them uncomfortable. I’m ok with that (now). As a recovering people pleaser, It’s taken me a long time to understand that my goal is not to reach “the masses.”

Some people message me beautiful/heartwarming compliments and tell me my photos have helped them through rough times and give them hope. If I’m being honest, this makes me feel mildly uncomfortable when it happens. I never quite know how to respond so I usually just say something like “Aww, thank you .” Conversely, I also see the beauty involved with deeply connecting with a random stranger on the internet, and that does feel good and real. The whole thing brings on a cognitive dissonance that I am learning to accept.

Speaking of being uncomfortable and being honest, this post was was difficult for me type and I’m cringing at the thought of hitting post. With that being said, a lot of people whose opinions I really value would never forgive me (see, I’m people pleasing again, but for the right reasons this time) if I didn’t hit post, so (takes breath….)

Raphael Arkera Studio Portraits

Raphael Arkera recently commissioned me to do create studio portraits to update his look/brand.  He wanted to go them to feel dark, edgy, moody, cinematic, etc, so naturally, I jumped at the opportunity.  Raphael’s a multi-talented creator, that has his hand in everything from creative direction to video game design, and much more. Check out his work here: https://www.raphaelarkera.com/ and on Instagram: @raphaelarkera. Here are a few our favorites from this shoot.

Cognitive Dissonance in Sobriety

As I write this, I have a little over 6 years of sobriety. And while there are certainly multiple things that factored into my previous drug use, I decided to take responsibility and clean up my act in January of 2011.

As much as I would love to say that life became “perfect” after getting sober, the reality is that just isn’t true. Life did, however, become immensely better (and thankfully, is still continuing to do so). This series is about that space that exists for me in between doing the right/sober thing and wanting to revert to old ways/behaviors. This space has become a place for Cognitive Dissonance. Thankfully, I have learned to not fear this space and instead, embrace it.

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