Japan by Jonathan Gardner

Last year I had the opportunity to travel to Tokyo for work. As you would expect, camera in tow, I spent an extra day to explore. I only had one extra day, and that certainly was not enough. After my business wrapped up, I grabbed the bullet train bound for Osaka and spent my extra day exploring Kyoto.

The above video is a quick edit I did form the trip. I can’t wait to go back. Make sure you click the subscribe button below to check out any new videos I post.

The gallery below are some of the images I managed to grab while we were there. We climbed to the top of Fushimi Inari Taisha and the temple Kiyomizu-dera. Just those two stops took all day. There is still so much more I want to do and see there. I can’t wait to get back to Japan and spend some more time.

Have you been to Japan? What are your favorite places. Help me create a list of things to see and do on my next visit.

Christmas in Mexico by Jonathan Gardner

It has been a long year that included Corey starting a new job and us moving our family across the country to Seattle. We have also had some great adventures, we went to Paris, Amsterdam, Hawaii, and Japan. To close out the year, we decided to cap it off by spending Christmas in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. The video above was almost completely done with my GoPro Hero 7 Black and my Google Pixel 3.

The photos below were exclusively shot with my Google Pixel 3.

From Hawaii with Love by Jonathan Gardner

Corey and I always said that once we moved to the west coast, we would start exploring the islands of the Pacific. This was our first chance, and it turned out to be a great one. While it was a bit too short, we had a blast. We spent 4 nights on Hawaii’s big island, hiked, swam in a waterfall, did 10 tanks of SCUBA, and ate tons of poke. We have already started planning our next trip to Hawaii. The video above is just a few captures of our adventures. Below are some of the images I captured. I would love to hear your comments about both below.

Almost a Victim by Jonathan Gardner

Story time my friends.

As a photographer, I am always trying to challenge myself. I started photography as a way to capture the places I was traveling for work. It quickly turned into something much more than that. It is a passion and I am always trying to learn more. My wife can attest to the number of YouTube videos I watch trying to spark an idea about what project to try next. It was this attitude that almost had me fall victim to a well played scam. Below is the saga.

It all started a few weeks back with the simple email below. 

I indeed have a 500px account and it is set up that I am open to hire. So I was intrigued. While fashion and street photography is not what I normally put out, I am open to a challenge and though it would be a fun gig. There were a few things that should have sent all of my senses into overdrive telling me that this was a scam.

First, when I went into my 500px inbox, I didn't see this message. I don't spend a bunch of time on the site so I was not sure if that was normal or not.

The second thing I should have noticed was that the email was sent via sendgrid.net. My other job is as a software developer. I use SendGrid as a service to send mass emails. This service can set the return name and address to look legit. I missed that at first and responded to the message that I was interested and I would like more information. I got the following message back.

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While most of the message seemed normal there were two lines that made me start to question things a bit.

It will be greatly appreciated if you accept this offer. I will look forward to having a better service from you.

I reached out the model agency he wanted me to work with but also started to begin searching the web for the agency and Andrew himself. Nothing... I sent a response to "Andrew" to let him know that I had in fact reached out to the talent agency but got the following bounce back in response. Now things are getting really fishy.

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He then began emailing me from a different address, a gmail.com address. I started doing some research and found that on the complex.com Contact Us page there is a section talking about this exact scenario.

If you are a photographer/model/stylist and have been unexpectedly solicited to work for Complex, please verify the credentials of the hiring individual or company by contacting us or call the number below.
— https://www.complex.com/contact

I reached out to complex.com but didn't get a response. I did, however, get a response from the talent agency. It outlined the services that they would provide and the model's contact cards. When I look at them, I am pretty sure that this is a scam. email address @usa.com are certainly not legit.

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In my research, I came across a video on All Things Photo where Jim M. Goldstein discusses a scam hitting photographers who are selling prints online. It sounds familiar to what I am seeing. It turns out, it is a derivative of the Nigerian Prince Email Scam

At this point, I reach out to "Andrew" and tell him that I want to talk to his contact at complex.com to discuss the shoot. I told him I wanted to ensure that my vision for it aligns with what they are looking for. Any client paying for services would find this a normal request. There has been no response. I guess they figured out that I had caught on to what they were doing. The moral of the story here is, be careful when someone reaches out to you. As the video above describes, Jim actually had a legit client that seemed to be a scam so it can happen but if it seems too good to be true, do you homework. If you have a similar story, I would love to hear about it in the comments.