Officially announcing.. the #pinkflamingotour. The following excerpt is a duplicate of my first ever GoFundMe campaign. I've never asked for much.. However, I've been urged to do one for years.. I never felt comfortable with it, but this seems worthy.
"On 18 September of this year I will be boarding a flight in Midwest America heading to Kenya, located on the east coast of Africa. On my way I'll layover in Seattle, as well as Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. I will depart Nairobi on 23 October and return to Kansas City, Missouri the following day, just in time for my 14 year Navy boot camp anniversary. These dates are confirmed and paid for by myself. This trip is happening with or without a successful GFM campaign, however any boost given by you will be no less appreciated.
Who is Matt Diamond?
I am a 32 year old photographer, blogger, and artist 10 years into growing a brand from student loans and pure hustle in a city I am not from. I use to focus primarily on gaining local clients, aspiring to purchase a live-in studio building with my VA loan. As our country's politics and culture evolve my aspirations have shifted, and I have a strong desire to experience lifestyle on foreign soils. I am a father of a 13 year old who shares in my experiences and who I look to make proud. In the last two years I've began blogging under #spikedtea - Spiked Tea w/ MDP via my website. I have managed my website end to end since summer 2013. Between the struggles of client life in my 20's in an over-saturated industry within a small market, a Crohn's disease diagnosis, and becoming a 30 something year old, I've finally realized it's time to tell my story. Hence, the launching of the blog and the increase in travel. I'm funding everything at the point in my life from very selective client booking, and largely by pizza delivery. I'm a pizza man!
If you're a pizza man, then what is Matt Diamond Photography and Spiked Tea w/ MDP? It's my life. Art has been my life since I was young, simply put. You can learn much more about this by reading my blog. It's only been a couple years going, so you're not far behind. I want you to feel my story, not to just fill my pockets. My brand is about our and my life experience.
Why the Pink Flamingo Tour? Well, the plastic pink flamingo is a tacky, while charming part of Americana culture. I've seen these flamingos in films stuck in the sand outside of a scrappy RV in the desert. As a child in the heart of the States I would see these flamingos in gardens or dotted throughout an old couple's yard. I never questioned it to anyone. Instead I would always notice them and enjoy it for a reason I didn't know. When I moved to Kansas City in 2009 I got into gardening and by 2013 I was putting together my own flourishing growing spots, always joking that all I needed was a pink flamingo. I never got around to buying one, sadly, but there will be more gardens. That's certainly a part of my future's bigger picture. Now, did you know there are pink and red flamingos in Kenya? "Midwest boy meets East African pink flamingos." Ndoto kubwa!"
Okay, now what is ndoto kubwa? Swahili for "dream big." It's the major language on that side.
Why Kenya tho, Matt? Why not? Flamingos.... Ok, I can explain a bit more. I was officially introduced to stories of the various, diverse cultures and nature within Kenya by a neighbor I met during an apartment fire alarm in summer 2009, my first summer in Kansas City. My best friend once visited as a missionary and always reminds me how much I would love it. While networking online over the years since then I've met other Kenyans and very slowly but surely picked up more knowledge of the country and their people. It is by far the most enthusiastically welcoming mix of people I've ever spoke with from one place. This reflects in my blog visitor statistics from the current year. As a man looking to grow as a person, with my brand, and in my physical health it's the first stop on what hopefully becomes a future of African travel as well as other places that may be too often looked over by the status quo tourist. I'm still that American that wants to visit Detroit, Memphis and to any desert on our west side. Why not?
What will you be doing? First off... eating. Their food is chemical free. Processed food isn't part of the culture, while my Crohn's disease in America is. I think a month is going to be enough time to see how much weight I can gain - always fighting loss - and seeing in general how my body and mind respond to the diet adjustment.
Otherwise... I'll be doing photo sessions featuring the vibrant fashion and beauty of the locals. Many will be women, per my usual work, however men will not be left out, as we're capturing the whole people culture. Candid street culture photos will be very much a part of this.
I will be making a documentary based on a Kenyan-centric topic speaking with anyone willing, and no, it will not be on poverty or animals.
If funds allow me the freedom of time, I will certainly volunteer. I have one friend working in an orphanage in Nairobi, and another with young, at-risk mothers. I've also found a high school English teacher in Mombasa who I hope will allow me to speak with her class, or even to the school if the administrator would have me. The theme of any speech would be how to let go of fear and doubt in order to "ndoto kubwa" (dream big).
It's always been said that America is the land of opportunity, however I'm seeing that Kenya may be that for myself, instead.
How will you spend the cash? I am ready to go (enough) as I stand right now. I have a couple cameras, lenses, and some cards. However, I need more cards to be smart about my data storage. A tablet would be ideal for being able to edit and upload as I'm opting to not carry a computer. The one very important investment I make will be a camera stabilizer to put into work when I film ppl for interviews. I would love a couple lens upgrades and will definitely be getting a new camera bag. I will be putting money into lodging and food while there of course. If my funds are right then I would love the freedom to rent a vehicle a time or two so that I can explore more freely, and likely would make that my means for visiting to Nakuru for the best pink flamingo experience, or possibly towards the west. That is essentially it, the standards of photographer travel.
Fun final fact about Matt: I have carried a mistaken last name all of my life, Diamond being my stage name gifted to me shortly after arrival in Kansas City. The name was given based on my "aura." I've become the man I am without a biological father in a world that tells us to "man up." Searching for understanding of myself and having sickle cell trait, my considerations and research led me to many African mentions and history. It's been a dream to go there and try to find a sense of completeness, a connection. Well... my brother found my Dad just a few months ago. While we have yet to meet in person, we are learning each other over the phone, and I'm now moving forward in life knowing that my last name is Cowles, translated as the Black Stranger. All I can say at this point in my life is, "Our God is so good. I'll see you soon Kenya!"
***I think it's important to share that I will be seeking sponsorship from Kenyan businesses in addition to this campaign."