Back to America / by Kevin Huang

Just got back to America after 4 months in the jungle, and 3 months living with my family in Mexico.  It's quite a big shock actually, and i'm glad that I was able to get the chance to transition back into society by going to my uncle's house in Mexico first.  As soon as i got back to LA it was like full on circus.  I went to a Kanye concert the first night I was back with a really good friend of mine and it was pretty surreal to say the least.

The pace of life, navigating traffic, being on such a tight schedule, the things people were saying, even just how fast people were talking to me was really jarring.  

I was down in Mex for a bit as well the last few days to catch a swell.  This is a whole nother story for another day, but there were some pros out towing in the water one big day while I was down there and I encountered them while I was swimming.   I had had a pretty insane experience in the water that day - quite dangerous actually - and i figured it would be nice to get on the back of a ski next time.  So, when I saw them on the beach later that day I talked to them, and gave them my info.  

The first thing one of the guys asked was, " Do you have an Instagram?"

I did, but unfortunately it was more of a personal Instagram and I didn't really have any professional work on it.  A friend of mine had also talked to me about it a few days prior and so that really got the cogs turning in the back of my mind.

Down in Central America, the internet was so slow I didn't even really bother with social media - it was such a hassle that it wasn't even worth it.  Besides, when you're living out there, social media just seems so far away.  There's plenty of life to be lived in the moment, social media is not only just a giant waste of time, it's the last thing you want to do while you're down there.  It's STILL a waste of time in the "real world", and I still have this love/hate kind of relationship with it, but it's a sort of necessary evil.  Just like any modern technology it's just another tool to be used.  You can either be a slave to it, or you can use it for good, it's all about your personal relationship with it.  

Recently, I had been mulling over the idea in my head of actually being a surf photographer.  As in like, not just treating it like a hobby or a past time, but seriously devoting some time and energy into it.  Mexico really made me question that (again, another story), but I knew that if I wanted to succeed, I would have to devote some time to developing a social media following - specifically an Instagram following.  

I remember having this thought while sitting on my friend's porch in Santa Monica.  He lived in an extremely nice part of town, and there were cars going by, lights flashing in the distance.  Airplanes droned on overhead, and Netflix was streaming on the massive TV in the living room.  Although I didn't really want to - and technically, I didn't really HAVE to - I felt that at least for a time, till I got to a place where I wanted to be, that I would have to devote some time and energy into working on something greater than myself and fitting into the bigger picture.  

Social media is almost like a living metaphor for that.  Social media connects people around the world through text, sound, video and imagery.  There are literally people all over the world using Instagram.  As a photographer, you're basically the lifeblood of Instagram since it thrives off of photos and images.  There will always be a space and a demand for promising photographers and I knew that what I was producing had some potential.  Not only would it be good for business (my business), but it would be a way of giving back to the world.  And, that's one of the reasons I started doing this to begin with.  I want to inspire people and share with everyone my love for the ocean, the waves which travel upon it, and the surfers who ride them - from the perspective of a person - a surfer - who loves all of these things in an extremely special and personal way - my own.  

I remember finishing my cigarette and then just looking out into the street, surrounded by concrete and the first world.  As much as you try and avoid it, we are all part of society.  The effect is less in a place like Nicaragua although its tendrils reach you even there.  However, ironically, places like Nica are much more free than anywhere in America.  Returning to civilization, to America, really made me understand just how caught up I was - how caught up we all are-  in its web.  Returning to civilization isn't just about realizing where you are, but it's about realizing where you fit in it all.

And for some of us, the answer is, we don't really fit in anywhere.

However, for me, the situation isn't so dire.  Deep in the core of my being I know I need to return to Central America.  However, right now, I need to see what I can bring back with me from the jungle to to city.  And when the time comes for me to return to the jungle, I'll hopefully have everything set up for me for my return to civilization as well.  

Duality.  Freedom.  Everything.  That is what I want.  I know how to get there, it's just a matter of getting it done.


The South Bay Los Angeles