Photographer Spotlight: Brandon Lua

The second photographer that I’m spotlighting on my blog (check out my first interview with HERE with Colin Gordon) is a newcomer on the scene.  He’s only been at it for a few months, but he’s already making a name for himself.  I came across Brandon’s Instagram account and knew that I had to do a shoot with him.  We did our session in the Old First Ward, and as you can see from the photos below, this is the exact type of gritty backdrop that I love oh so much.

I got the chance to work with him a second time at a pop-up photo shoot/music/model collaboration party at a local amazing Airbnb.  This party sparked the idea to create Locations…a project between Brandon and two other photographers Ryan Kell (one of my besties!) and Alexis Bandera.  This is a super exciting project that’s totally new to Buffalo and I can’t wait to share more details with you all in an upcoming blog post!

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I sat down with Brandon after our shoot and asked him a few questions about photography and life in Buffalo…here’s what he had to say!

How long have you been doing photography?

I’ve only been shooting for four to five months.  So not too long!

Have you always been interested in photography?

Actually, always.  I grew up, my father was always shooting.  He wasn’t exactly a photographer but he always had a camera on him.  He was shooting me, the surrounding area, his friends.  And then also growing up I had friends who were into photography, and then I kind of always envied them.  But I always felt like I was too old to start, but I don’t know…one day I just finally decided to pick up a camera and just shoot, and then next thing you know I was addicted to it.

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What do you love most about photography?

Oh man…everything.  I like capturing the moment.  I feel like every single time I’m capturing a moment, it helps me remember it.  For example, I was shooting one of my friends Denzel at an event that he threw, and his mentor that flew out from California, a really well known director, was telling a story and I remember him pointing his hand out towards Denzel and I captured that moment, and that’s something that I’ll always remember.

Which do you like more- the photography or editing process?

I like them both equally…wait, actually no. I like photography, capturing the moment more so, because I get to interact with the person and socialize.  It’s just all around fun.  I’m more hands on.

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Do you have a favorite location where you like to shoot?

I do, it’s in front of Shea’s at night.  On Main Street…I love the lights in the background.  I like to work with bokeh.  I love to work with lights a lot.  I like daytime, but at the same time, night time…there’s something about it, it’s kind of mysterious and magical.

Do you have a most memorable photo shoot that you’ve done?

I’ve had some crazy shoots!  I’ve done some pretty explicit stuff before *laughs*  Maybe it’s because I’ve never done stuff like that, it was almost natural, though. I didn’t think anything of it until after.  My absolute favorite moment was shooting my girlfriend.  She never likes taking pictures, but she’s very beautiful.  I somehow convinced her and it ended up being one of my most noticed photo.  It was in front of Shea’s, and it was just perfect, because the snow was falling lightly and she was looking beautiful as always and the light was hitting her perfect.

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Where do you draw your inspiration from?

From my lifestyle…that’s why it’s hard for me to find a niche. My life is very random.  One day I’m doing something that looks very innocent and the next day I’m doing a shoot for a rapper, next day I’m doing something for a model.  Basically, I’m not afraid to do anything, so I just do what I want to do.

What do you love most about living in Buffalo?

Most of my family is here.  I like how the city is in a resurgence and everything is coming back to life.  I like how people are taking something with so much culture and history and bringing something new to it, and not just destroying it.  The food here is so good, too.

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What are your favorite local restaurants?

That’s like picking your favorite kid…that’s really hard.  I like Pasion a lot…I’ve been working with them a lot.  It’s Cuban food, and it’s actually my first trying Cuban food and it tastes great.  I also like La Divina. I’m there too much.  They bring something authentic to Buffalo.  They have this drink called horchata which is amazing.  Well, that’s all I got…I guess I only have one kid.  I haven’t been trying many restaurants out recently.

Favorite place to grab a drink?

I like Vera Pizza.  And Pasion, their bar is great.  It depends on the mood I’m in.  I like Vera for original cocktails and Pasion has more tropical drinks.


Thanks so much, Brandon, for sitting down and chatting with me!  I can’t wait to work with you on the upcoming Locations event…it’s going to be a blast!

Also, here’s a bonus shot of the lovely Caralyn and I!

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Sausage, Potato & Kale Soup

So I’m not going to lie…I don’t cook.  It’s not that I can’t cook, it’s just that I don’t like it.  I’m not that type of person who can just look at a basket of ingredients and come up with something off the top of my head.  I would get eliminated in the first round of Chopped.  That’s why I love baking so much, because it’s super structured and you need to follow a recipe for the end product to come out perfect…and also because I have a massive sweet tooth.

On those days when I am feeling ambitious and decide to tackle a savory recipe, I like to stick with one-pot meals.  Minimal cleanup, no fuss, good food.  I’ve made this soup a few times, and it’s always one of my favorite things.  It’s really filling and not super heavy, and it’s an homage to the Olive Garden soup that we all know and love.

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Sausage, Potato & Kale Soup  (adapted from THIS recipe)

2 large bunches Kale, Picked Over, Cleaned, And Torn Into Bite Sized Pieces
7 large Red Potatoes, diced
1 whole Onion, Chopped
1-1/3 pound Hot Italian Chicken Sausage
1/2 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes (more To Taste)
2 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
3 cups 2% Milk
3 cups Half-and-half
Italian Seasoning

Instructions:  Prepare the kale and set it aside. In a large pot, crumble and brown the Italian sausage with the onion and little bit of olive oil. Drain as much as the fat as you can. Stir in the red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning, chicken broth, milk, and half-and-half. Add the potatoes.  Simmer for 30 minutes.  Give it a taste and adjust seasonings as needed, then stir in the kale. Simmer an additional 10-15 minutes, then serve.

Nickel City Gritty: Caralyn Mirand

I’m sure many of us have had this experience- you come across a person online who looks interesting, decide to follow them on Instagram, Twitter, or any various social media sites, and become fast internet friends.  From this point on you either keep the friendship digital, or decide to meet up in person, in which that could go incredibly well or you could totally end up getting catfished.

Fortunately for me, I ended up having a wonderful experience with my next Nickel City Gritty interviewee Caralyn Mirand.  Looking at Caralyn’s Instagram account, you’ll see that she is a successful plus size model, securing campaigns with huge clients like Macy’s.  Not only is she a model, she started her own business called Buffalo Beautiful.  She could have easily moved to New York City to work full-time, but instead stays true to her roots and is a Buffalo girl through and through, living here and commuting weekly for jobs.  She is a beautiful person both inside and out, and I’m so happy to share this fun interview with you all.

This is Nickel City Gritty and this is Caralyn Mirand.

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How did you start modeling?

I started when I was a senior in High School.  I applied and was accepted to Clarkson University.  My mom told me to go online and look up scholarship information, and instead I posted my pictures on the Tyra Banks website.  She was having a teen plus size modeling competition. So if you were a size 12 and you were a teenager, you were eligible.  So the next day I received an email saying “Please submit the correct images.” and I was like “Woah, that’s crazy!” because when you were posting the pictures, people were posting them so quickly that my picture went from page one to page ten when I refreshed it.  It was crazy that somebody noticed mine!  So the next day I posted the correct ones and was told “Congratulations, you are in the top 100!” and I was like “Oh my god, that’s crazy!” Next day top 50, then top 25, then top 10…things happened very fast.  They flew my mom and I to New York for about a week to compete on the Tyra Show.  It was a total whirlwind experience and we filmed two episodes.  We did three photo shoots and we did a model walk that had to be creative. We also did a video about Tyra’s beauty campaign that was all about exposing your natural beauty.  So long story short I was the runner up of the competition, and being 17 years old I was heartbroken!  But it’s kind of crazy, I’m the only one out of two cycles of this competition that’s still a working model.  After the show, I met with a modeling agency and they said if you’re not willing to move to New York  then you don’t really have a future, call us after college and maybe we could work something out.  That was kind of a bummer, but I was still able to negotiate myself to work with Seventeen magazine, so I would say “If you could pay for my flight, I would work for free.” and that’s how I got my start! I was feature in Seventeen four times, which was really fun.

How long have you been doing your side business, Buffalo Beautiful?

Living in Buffalo, post college, I thought okay I wasn’t modeling full time, what’s my passion?  What do I want to do? And I wanted to start establishing something here, so that I didn’t need to rely on modeling.  So, to not necessarily fall back on, but to put some roots here again.  So it’s so cliche, but it came to me in a dream.  I woke up and was like, Buffalo Beautiful! And I started writing stuff down in the middle of the night.  That’s how it was born.  It is a consulting company, but that idea is evolving, for sure.  I kind of threw everything at the wall to see what would stick and I’m in the process of updating my website.  I launched it in 2015.  Right now I’m focusing on helping people develop their confidence from the inside out.  So you could wear great clothes, but if you don’t feel good on the inside, you’re not going to feel good on the outside.  I love working with women and men of all ages and helping them become the best versions of themselves.

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Describe your style to me.

Oh gosh. Okay, my style would be classic, easy but polished.  And versatile.  And always evolving.  I think my favorite thing is to invest in pieces that will never go out of style.  Jeans, a leather jacket…I like to buy trends cheaply.  I don’t invest in trends unless it’s something that I’m really stuck on.  One of my goals this year is to invest in better basics.  Better white shirts, better pairs of jeans and getting them tailored.  Being smarter and not just buying to buy, but to actually curate a wardrobe that will last.

Do you have a favorite outfit or favorite piece of clothing?

Right now, I don’t know what it is, I’m all about my black jeans.  Whether it’s regular black jeans or ripped black jeans.  I bought like six pairs of black jeans this year…it’s crazy.

Where’s your favorite place to buy jeans?

I used to be a die hard Gap person, but not as much anymore.  This is crazy to say this, but I’ve actually had a lot of luck at American Eagle this year for jeans.  I recently bought jeans there, and I wear a lot of Fashion to Figure jeans and they start at a size 12.  Every once in a blue moon I will have good luck at TJ Maxx and Marshalls but I don’t really count on it.  I’ve also been all about the little white sneaker.

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Do you have a style icon?

Ummm…I feel like I should.  This is hard, because I really find my inspiration through street style.  I love looking on Pinterest, and let’s say that if I buy black jeans, I’ll type in “black jean outfits” on Pinterest and I’ll search that and get inspiration from that.  I also love to look at magazines and finding inspiration through normal people, as silly as that sounds.  It’s hard because there are people who I love the way they dress, but it wouldn’t look good on me.  Like Olivia Palermo, I love all her outfits, but I could never wear it.  Also, people that I work with, too,  Like everyone is always dressed so cool.  And it’s funny, because they’re not wearing anything crazy.  It’s simple and classic.

What is currently on your playlist?

I am obsessed with The Highway on Sirius Radio.  Backstory, never loved country music, moved to the furthest point north in New York State, fell in love with country music up there somehow.  I love Top 40 pop music, stuff you can jam and move to.  I love being able to sing along.  My boyfriend and I have bonded over country music.  Drake White is so good, I listen to him on repeat.  I like feel good music and the old early 2000 jams.

Do you have a favorite or most memorable concert?

It’s a tie between my first concert ever, which was Britney Spears at Darien Lake or every year my boyfriend and I like to get to Pittsburgh to see Kenny Chesney, he does the stadium tour.  It’s a fun vibe in the summer and a fun atmosphere.  Everyone’s drinking beer and tailgating.  It’s the kickoff of summer.

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Do you have a celebrity crush?

So, I don’t know what it is, but I’ve always loved Adam Levine.  I’m not really even that into tattoos, but I think he’s really good looking.  Blake Shelton’s personality really cracks me up, and it’s funny because I don’t even watch The Voice that much, but those two are good looking.  I’m all about the tall, dark and handsome, though.  It’s kind of my jam.

What’s your favorite restaurant in Buffalo?

I love Sinatra’s in Kenmore.  You know you’re going to get a good Italian meal. I love Acropolis and La Nova.  Tempo I love for the fancy date night.  I also love Andersons, is that bad? Also, I will gladly get a health problem for Paula’s Doughnuts.

What’s your favorite place to grab a drink?

I would say Vera is a really good place to get a drink, and my boyfriend and I would go to Templeton when we first started dating.  That’s more for scenery.  The patio with the fire pits…that’s where my  boyfriend and I fell in love.  We go once a year on our anniversary.  Or even just Canalside or Liberty Hound…that area is just fun.

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What’s your spirit animal?

A turtle.  So I was a Delta Zeta in college and turtles were our mascot.  Ever since then my parents would buy anything with a turtle for me, to the point where it got a little excessive. I have my spare bedroom that’s tastefully turtle themed.  I have this really beautiful turtle keepsake box from Room and I have little turtles all over my house.  And slow and steady wins the race, I guess!  So yes, a turtle.  Or my dog is my spirit animal, because he doesn’t get out bed until noon and really has one hour of active time…so maybe he is.  His name is Walter.  He’s a 30 pound pitbull mix.

What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received?

I’ll tell you the best and the oddest.  The best one, I’d have to say, is that I know how to make people feel good, and that relates back to my Buffalo Beautiful.  Helping people feel good about themselves after I help them.  The oddest one is that makeup artists tell me all the time that I have really good spacing between my eyes and my eyebrows for makeup.  So I’ve never thought about that, but that’s cool!*

*Editor’s note: The instructor who taught me in makeup school called this orbital space*

And, always my last question.  What do you want to be when you grow up?

My go-to answer to this is usually a stay at home dog mom.  I actually want to be happy and be able to travel and have a family and improve my cooking even more…I’m an amateur chef.  I want to find happiness and laughter every day, and family for me is number one.  As long as you have your health and your happiness  and family…that’s all I could ever ask for when I grow up.  I wish I was funnier *laughs*  It’s never been about where I am, it’s who I’m with.  I would rather be sitting with someone like you in a shack than being with low quality people in the most beautiful place in the world.  It’s important to surround myself with good people, especially in the industry that I’m in.  I want to continue to surround myself with people who challenge me to do better and to care about important things.  That’s all I could ever want and ask for.  Man, that got me in the feels!

Photographer Spotlight: Colin Gordon

A few weeks ago, I talked about my love of photography.  Recently, I’ve been very blessed to work with some extremely talented local photographers.  Instead of just compiling some of the photos in a random blog post, I wanted to really showcase these amazing camera magicians.

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The first photographer that I’m going to feature is Colin Gordon.  I’ve known Colin for a few months now, and he is such a genuinely nice person who has a true passion for his craft.  I shot with him a couple weeks ago on an extremely cold and windy day in Allentown, and although the weather conditions were a little rough, the photos turned out phenomenal!

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I asked Colin a few questions about his business and life in Buffalo…here’s what he had to say!

How long have you been a professional photographer?
I have been a professional photographer for about a year and a half.

What do you love most about photography?
There are so many things I love about photography that it’s hard to narrow down to just one! First and foremost, I love to create. Secondly, I love technology and computers. Being a photographer lets me justify buying new gadgets haha. Thirdly, making people happy with the images I create is an amazing experience. Not only am I doing what I love, I get to create something special for someone that can never be recreated and that will last forever. It’s honestly pretty surreal sometimes. Also, I love that photography forces me out of my comfort zone. It makes me explore new places and meet new people.

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Do you have a favorite location where you like to shoot?
My favorite location is the spot where I have yet to shoot! But on the realz Italy was amazing…

What’s your most memorable experience as a photographer?
There have been countless memorable experiences as a photographer. In the past year, I would have to say shooting the Shakey Graves concert at Canalside was a highlight. They’re one of my favorite bands and to be able to combine live music and photography is amazing. Two of my favorite things at once!

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
There are many sources that I draw my inspiration from: local and national photographers, tv shows, and my friends and family.

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What do you love most about living and working in Buffalo?
I love living and working in Buffalo because you can feel the energy and excitement of the next generation of businesses and entrepreneurs. All I remember hearing when I was growing up was how terrible things are in Buffalo. Now, things are finally starting to turn around and it’s cool to watch it happen. It gives me hope for the future.

Favorite local restaurant and/or bar?
Too hard to pick only one haha. Here’s my top 5: Saigon Cafe, La Divina, Black Sheep, Mothers, and LLoyd (trucks and factory).

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Are there any locations in Buffalo where you would love to shoot but haven’t yet?
Yes! I want to shoot on top of one of the grain elevators. I’ve explored so many of them but have yet to get to the roof. I’ve seen other local photogs do it so there must be a way!

What’s on your playlist- what do you listen to while you are editing photos?
My taste in music is all over the place. I love house and techno but I also listen to a smorgasbord of bands. My most recently played bands on Spotify are: The Decemberists, The Head and the Heart, Odesza, Pinegrove, Ugly Casanova, Modest Mouse, Shakey Graves, Alt-j, and Vampire Weekend.


Thank you SO MUCH Colin for shooting with me!  I had a blast!!  Make sure to follow Colin on Instagram for your daily dose of gorgeous photography inspiration.

Buffalo Black Book Magic Release Party

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It’s no shock to any of you that I go to a lot of events…and by a lot I mean a metric shit ton. You’ve seen me post about everything from art festivals to fashion shows to store openings.  I always say that if there is an event, any kind of event at all, GO TO IT!  It doesn’t matter if it might not seem of interest to you in that moment. Just go.  You never know who you will meet!  I’ve met some of the best people and really networked my ass off this way.

If there is one event in the city that you should definitely attend, it’s absolutely the upcoming Buffalo Black Book release party!  You might remember that I posted about the last party in September, and it was one of the most fun events that I’ve been to.  It also was the very first time that I connected with Elizabeth, the creator of the BBB.  Just a reminder that you can read her Nickel City Gritty interview HERE!

This party is celebrating the recent launch of their second issue Magic (still available to purchase on their website).  This issue is brilliant, and full of some of my favorite people!  If you are in Buffalo, near Buffalo, or just feel like coming to Buffalo for the weekend, join me at Hydraulic Hearth this Saturday to celebrate Elizabeth and Buffalo Black Book.  It’s going to be an awesome party!

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Tribute to Spain Rodriguez

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I think that this mural has to be one of my favorites out of my Buffalo Public Art series so far.

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This beauty was created in 2013 by a group of artists under the direction of Ian DeBeer as a tribute to Buffalo-born comic artist Spain Rodriguez.

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The actual story behind this mural is definitely interesting and worth reading about.  It was inspired by a Spain Rodriguez comic about a fight he got into at Nietzsche’s, which is across the street from the mural.  You can find a lot more information on this piece by clicking HERE!

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You can find the exact location of this graphic piece, as well as plenty of other local works of art on my Buffalo Public Art page!

Nickel City Gritty: Two Guys Good Buys

At the beginning of November, I attended a Two Guys Good Buys pop-up shop (you can view my post about it HERE)  This was my first time meeting the duo, Frank Fina and Tyler Annalora.  After talking to them for a short while, I quickly learned a few things: they were super passionate about their vintage clothing business, they loved traveling across the country in their van, and they were suckers for a good adventure.

After randomly running into them multiple times since our first initial meeting, I just knew that they had to be the next subjects in my Nickel City Gritty series (check out my first post about Elizabeth of Buffalo Black Book!)

After my interview with Frank & Tyler, I quickly learned a few more things:  Tyler’s spirit animal is a zebra, Frank is terrified of bears, and they are still suckers for a good adventure…and an amazing playlist.

This is Nickel City Gritty, and this is Frank & Tyler of Two Guys Good Buys.

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Describe your style to me.

Tyler:  Laid back, not trying too hard to be comfortable and relevant, always try to be fashion forward…it’s actually tough.  I don’t really think about it too much!

Frank:  Yeah, that’s it.  It’s like, I guess, pretty simple.  Not thinking too much about it.

T:  I try to stick with a timeless aesthetic…the basics.  You can’t go wrong with a nice plaid, but I think simpler is better for sure.  So solids, and right now I like neutral tones and earth tones.

F:  As far as clothing, for me, I’m pretty simple.  Ty is definitely more fashionable than I am.  Clothing wise, I’m most comfortable in jeans and a tee shirt and a jacket. I like stuff that works, I like stuff that lasts.  Especially with doing things in the outdoors, it’s worth buying something that’s gonna last you.  You’re using it every day and you want it to withstand the test of time.

T:  Yeah, that’s the thing, for us we don’t have so much space for clothes, so things that will work day in and day out is really what we’re looking for.

F:  With being on the road, style wise, it’s like you’re really falling in love with these few items that you have, you know?  Back home, I have way too many clothes, and when we spent the 9 months on the road I had a bin of clothing that I wore and everything was really useful.  There was a point about 6 months in where I actually sent some stuff home because we weren’t using it.  It’s like, now we know what works and what’s lasting and what we’re staying warm in. So we sent a few things home and simplified things even more.  So all this, and our personal style, also relates to the clothing that we sell.  Stuff that’s been around, these companies haven’t been around for 60 years because they don’t work.  People trust the quality.  We definitely wear a lot of what we sell, too.

T:  That’s what we’re going for.  A simpler lifestyle.  No frills other than the necessity.

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Do you guys have a favorite outfit or a favorite piece of clothing?

T:  This jacket, for sure.  I’m not sure what type of jacket it is…denim or maybe canvas.  It’s definitely warm.

F:  I’d say, for me, a Pendleton shirt as of lately.  The past couple years.  It always wasn’t my favorite piece of clothing, but now I think a Pendleton wool shirt is something I would not leave behind wherever I went.  I’m just like, so confident on how warm it’s gonna be.  I just trust it.  I actually have Ty to thank for liking certain brands so much.  He definitely has more of a fashion background.

T:  I think we’ve been more or less interested in a certain look or aesthetic.  Sometimes brand specific but just trying to understand certain fibers.  Very elementary level, but to understand, like, wool.  And what type of natural fiber that is.  And then understanding what brands now days still carry on the tradition that was started over a hundred years ago.  It might be made in a different place, but the integrity of the fabric…I’d like to think it’s the same.  Just trying to focus on that more.

F:  Even before we really started getting into the older, vintage stuff, just like in High School, Ty was always going to New York City and he was digging different clothing than other people.

T:  Just goofy stuff. Just being aware of what’s going on in places besides here in Buffalo, whether it be in Europe or Japan. People are doing different things and obviously style is different.  Keeping a keen eye on what’s going on in fashion and style. I’ve always been interested in big cities and like what they’re doing in New York.  So it just kind of opened my eyes to other things.  Going to New York was always fun.  We would do weekend trips quite often.

F:  We would take trips to New York, and at the time I was working full-time.  So I would work until 4:00, hop on a megabus after work, get there Saturday at 5am, meet up with Ty and we would pretty much just walk around the city for two days straight and I would leave Sunday night at like 10pm and get back to Buffalo Monday morning.

T:  Remember that?  We would stay at the hostel on 27th and 3rd. You’d call me at like 5:30 in the morning, wake up, get a coffee, and we’d walk like 60 blocks.

That’s so fun!

F:  We would just go and walk around and take photos.  It’s really sweet to think back to those trips, and this was probably 2010 or 2011, and just to look back and we were just like hanging out.  It’s just crazy how it evolves into this now and our love for photography and traveling and just seeing new things and seeing new faces and seeing new styles.  It’s always been there, just now it’s evolved.

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Do you guys have any style icons?

F:  *laughs* Yeah, Ty.

T:  I can’t say that I do, but I get my eye from my mom.

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Where do you look as your source of inspiration?

F:  Being on the road is a constant inspiration for me.  Just seeing so many new things, whether it is the scenic views  or just talking to different people from all over the country.  Just a lot of different walks of life.  It’s cool because the traveling community is a huge thing for me.  I didn’t know how amazing it would be.  It’s amazing to meet up with strangers.  Back home, before leaving, you know I had a group of friends but I wasn’t the type of person to like, go out to a bar and meet all new people.  So now I’m much more open to meeting new people and finding out similarities.  Automatically when you’re on the road, I feel like there’s just a connection right away that’s so much quicker.  We’re away from home, and traveling and sitting around the fire and cooking breakfast together.  You just automatically have the connection and that’s really inspiring to me.  We always say strangers become friends so quick.  I feel like you gain trust and grow to like these people.

T:  Yeah, and moving around, it’s not just “Wooooo we’re gonna go crazy and start driving somewhere!” You have to have a general plan.  Just being exposed to more is inspiring, because you see just so many more possibilities and different ways of life.  Not everything is so glamorous, but there’s different possibilities out there in other places than in Buffalo or New York or wherever you are.  I think once you move yourself from one specific place, it just opens your eyes naturally.  For me personally, that’s a huge inspiration.  I want to continue to push what we’re doing here because right now it’s working and I know we’re not gonna fail, and if we do there’s many more things that we can go and pursue and continue to do what we’re doing.

F:  Yeah, you just see all these different opportunities and all these different people that are able to travel full time and are doing all these different things.  Whether it’s a traveling nurse or substitute teaching or people running their own brands or blogging or photographers.  All these people are doing things and they have their shit together, they’re making a living, they’re traveling full-time.  They’re not just out there doing whatever.  It’s hard work to travel full-time, so there’s just other ways to do it and make a living other than working 40 hours a week 9 to 5.  There’s ways to do it.

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What’s on your playlist?

F:  Music is SO huge for us!  Obviously, anyone taking road trips, it’s huge.  We’ve definitely expanded what we listen to a lot.  We pick up music from the people that we met.  Our good friend Jackie took our iPod one day and put all this music on, this was one month into our trip, and filled it up with all new music and we started listening to all these different, completely different artists that we didn’t even know about.

T:  For a while I was listening to Red Hot Chili Peppers.  I listen to Foals.  We always listen to 70’s Smash Hits, that’s for sure!

F:  Yeah, that’s the playlist!  70’s Smash Hits.  The Lumineers are really good.  There’s just something about being on an open highway and certain music works so much better.

T:  Also been listening to a lot of J. Cole recently.

F:  I was always really really into hip hop.  Definitely went to a lot of hip hop shows and kept up on different hip hop blogs, so we continue to listen to hip hop music too, but we are listening to so much more.  I’ve always appreciated different types of music.

T:  Dan Auerbach, Black Keys, listened to Modest Mouse for a while.

F:  I listen to pretty much everything.  One thing that we don’t listen to though is country.  I don’t know what it is, I don’t know if it’s just in my head.  That’s one thing we just never listen to. Other than that we just listen to pretty much every genre.

T:  Beatles are great always and listen to the Stones for sure.  The Doors are great, listened to The Eagles for weeks.

F:  There would be long drives, I think Ty would put on a Beatles playlist, and there’d be like 25 songs and that would last a while, and I would doze off and then wake up and look over and Ty’s just jammin out to The Beatles and singing, and it’s stuff like that that’s just awesome.  We had some fun in those front seats of the van.

What was your favorite or most memorable concert you’ve been to?

T:  It would have to be your first concert…

F:  What, mine?

T:  Yeah, Billy Joel!

F:  The first concert I ever went to, my parents took me to a Billy Joel concert.  I don’t remember it so I wouldn’t say that it was my favorite. I was young.  Growing up, my parents always wanted me to play instruments.  Which I do too, but when you’re younger, it’s different.  My mom was always like “When you’re older, you’re gonna wish that you stuck with the piano or the saxophone.” So they took me, and that’s back when I was taking the piano.  But I say my favorite one…we would go up to Toronto for a show, and saw Jay Z and Kanye West, just a huge stadium concert.

T:  Does a music festival count?

Yeah!

T:  I think that would be my favorite concert…Hangout Festival.  Gulf Coast of Alabama.  3 days on the beach.  So many people performed.  On the last night, the headliner was Paul Simon.  That was a cool performance to see.

F:  I think my favorite live show…I went to New York to see Nas at Radio City Music Hall on New Year’s Eve.  That was a few years back…that was an amazing show.  Also, right here at the Ballroom, Atmosphere.  Have you ever heard of Atmosphere?  It’s like underground-ish hip hop.  It’s all real instruments and it’s awesome.  That was one of my favorite live shows.

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Who would play you in a movie about your life?

F:  Adam Sandler!

T:  *laughs* Yeah, for sure!

F:  I don’t know why, but everyone’s always joked around that I look like him, and as a kid he was my favorite actor.  Honestly, I’m not huge into movies, but that’s who came to mind first.

What’s your spirit animal?

T:  Oh man…hmmmmm…zebra.

Zebra?  Why?

T:  When I went to the zoo as a kid, I always wanted to take the zebras home with me.

Awwwwwwww…

F:  I’ve never thought of my spirit animal.  I’m like petrified of bears.  That’s a fear  that I have.  It’s not my spirit animal, but I’m definitely scared of bears.  The first time we were out in grizzly territory out west, and we were doing hikes all over the place.  That first hike where I knew there was a chance that there could be a grizzly bear around, I was like thinking about it non-stop. Looking up and always making sure I know what to do if I see one.  But I don’t know, I never really thought about the spirit animal.

T:  I don’t think you could skip that question.

F:  A bald eagle!

T:  Ooooh that’s a good one.

F:  Forever free.  Bald eagles are sweet.  I always wanted to see one so bad, and we went months on a trip without seeing one, always talked about it.  They’re way more common out west.  We were in Oregon one day, which was 5 months into the trip, and we were at Mt. Hood and we saw two bald eagles above us.  I was filming it, and in the background of the video I’m like “This is amazing!” and I’m bugging out.

T:  It was hilarious, I’m like looking at the bald eagles doing their thing and he’s like “Oh my god!”

F:  I wanted to send it to my grandpa.  He is a huge inspiration, and the reason why I like the outdoors so much.  He’s 90 years old and I would always keep him updated on the trip. And send him videos.  He’s somehow really good with an iPhone at 90 years old, so I took that video and sent it to him.  And after that we ended up seeing a few more.

Did you see a bear?

F:  We did see a bear, our first bear in Yosemite.  That was sweet.  It was far away and there was a lot of other people around.

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What’s your favorite childhood memory?

F:  I’d say, going to the ocean once a year.  My parents would take me on little trips to Myrtle Beach and Virginia Beach.  I’d say, trips to the ocean with my family.  That’s why I have the constant travel bug.  It was always something I looked forward to.

T:  I think probably doing things on the weekends with my dad.  My sister and I would go and do something outside.  Whether is be a day trip or weekend trip camping or something.  Do everything together and make dinner, start the fire and cooking out.  He would be in the country so we would go to his house and shoot bb guns and have fun outside. He was always adamant about getting my sister and I outside.

F:  I think my grandpa really got me into the outdoors.  He was the hunter and fisherman, so those were the times that we would do that- going out fishing and things like that.

What’s your favorite local place to grab a drink?

F:  So when I go out to bars, I like to have something else to do there other than just sit at the bar, whether it’s pool or darts.  I really like going to Frizzy’s  because I think the photo booth there is a blast.  So if we go there with a group of friends, I just like taking photos.  It’s such a cool little keepsake and you can have it forever for $3.

T:  Yeah, that’s the first thing that came to my mind.

Where do you go to de-stress?

F:  Nature, hikes, the Adirondacks.

T:  It’s been tough, I didn’t realize it.  Even just being in Buffalo, it’s fast enough and there’s enough lights and it’s loud enough where you can get rattled a little bit.

F:  Especially when you get used to living on the road, there really is a lot less stress, so coming back you’re just like “Woah!”

T:  We’d go to Public in the Lafayette Hotel, go around the corner and sit by the fireplace.  That’s a nice place to relax.

F:  For myself, and Ty too, just being out in nature is really calming.

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Okay, and always my last question is, what do you want to be when you grow up?

F:  I just want to be happy and successful in my own terms.  As long as I’m progressing every year in my life I’m happy with that.

T:  I think right now it’s kind of hard to put into one specific thing.  I think to be living by my own best means, I’ll be happy.

F:  You know, it’s interesting, when I was a kid and thought about that question what I wanted to be when I was growing up or what I thought I wanted to be doing 5 years from 21 even, I didn’t think I’d be doing this.  And this is what I want to be doing right now.  I want to be traveling.  It’s just crazy. I never thought it would be possible.  And it IS possible, for anybody.  Not just for us.  If there’s something you wanna do, and you just sit down and plan it and take your time with it and think about it, it’s so possible.