Jonathan H. Lee is creating stories for impact and capturing beauty.
46

patrons

$256
per month

The less than 280-character summary :

I capture beauty and create content wherever I live and travel. As an impact storyteller, this platform and you have the capacity to sustain my work, livelihood, and further my reach with value and purpose-driven individuals and projects for social and environmental good worldwide. 

Wait, who are you?

I am a Hong Kong-born, California-raised, earth and climate science-educated, permaculture-minded, dumpster-diving/food-saving-opportunivore, and camera-equipped traveling documenter and storyteller who frolicks in the mountains, cycles everywhere, with a burning passion to co-create a more beautiful world we know is possible through stewarding our planet, systems change, and inspiring, uplifting stories.


Sitting on the earth, watching coffee trees being planted, and capturing the magic of cross-cultural collaboration and knowledge sharing with the Conscious Impact team. My happy place. Big thanks to Rebeca Segal for snapping this!

The full picture :

What life has taught me is the power of stories, the goodness in people, the resilience of communities, and the wisdom of the earth. I typically introduce myself as a traveling photo and videographer, however, I believe my life and story go much deeper than that. 

If I could attempt to condense these years of travel, service, learning, and photography, it's this: We humans absolutely have the capacity, and much more in common than we currently believe to co-create a more beautiful world that our hearts know is possible (thanks Charles Einstein for articulating it so). That food and stories bring people together. And everyone is a student, and everyone is a teacher.

Although I was brought up in Hong Kong and Los Angeles, I feel more at home and at ease away from urban environments, and would rather be associated as a fellow citizen of this planet. My background and formal education is in earth sciences and sustainability, and my passions have branched off into conservation, wilderness, permaculture, systems thinking, decolonization, indigenous peoples' culture and knowledge, community engagement, food systems/sovereignty/waste, and of course, photo and videography.

We live in a bizarrely inspirational yet despairing time in human and earth history. It's perhaps easier than ever to spiral downwards with the myriad of attention-grabbing and tragic headlines in the mainstream channels, and forget the prevailing forces of good, resilience, and beauty that surround us even more often.

In recent years, photography to me has evolved to not simply be about immortalizing moments in time, but a medium and channel through which beauty and humanizing, vital stories can be told and reshared.


About 50 volunteers of all backgrounds from over the world gathering at the Conscious Impact camp to share, to learn, and to serve one another and the greater community.

Travel, service, and photography have helped me discover my purpose, and that purpose at this moment is to not only engage and take active part in seed-planting, earth-healing, and mind-expanding projects and initiatives, but also fill the role of storytelling alongside countless others who have been upholding this craft for generations upon generations.

I will continue to capture, write up, and create content on stories passed onto me or of personal experiences gathered from wherever life brings me (back) to next. I refer, of course, to positive, uplifting, impactful snapshots and stories, often untold, that shine light on abundance, and of natural and humanizing beauty that exist all around us. 

As my good friend Alyson Noele Sagala says it so well, "To work towards something you believe in requires profound commitment, and commitment is not easy - but goddamn if it's not the most fulfilling thing I have allowed myself to experience thus far."

Here's my dilemma: all the content I've posted and published have been free, but the creation process of this content isn't free. The gear, the travel, planning, accommodation, food, phone plans, work spaces/internet, writing, editing, hiring talents and services cost money, time, and more. I have countless individuals to thank for their shared resources to have accomplished what I have, especially in recent years. I am wealthy in connections, friendships, have an abundance in joy, quality food, and opportunities. The only major bottleneck is in the finances. I want to remove this bottleneck because that will allow me to make less compromises, and focus more on content creation and collaborations with those who share this vision.


So joyed to see the Beacon Food Forest community's work (with a couple of my photographs) be showcased at the MOHAI Museum in Seattle.

I value my time and contributions to others and to the world in a monetized society that marginalizes many, including independent artists like myself, and am determined to be innovative in creating a residual income. I wish to revisit projects such as Conscious Impact in Nepal, rebuilding, sharing, and documenting our progress and the stories of the incredible people who take part. Along the same note, I want to continue to offer discounted or pro-bono work for individuals and organizations that may not have a (large) budget, yet their stories are equally important, if not more so.

That's where Patreon comes in. Instead of a one-time contribution on crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, Patreon is set up for reoccurring contributions to sustain my livelihood and creations - and a small trickle from you, and dozens, or even hundreds of supporters to keep the stream flowing and allowing me to keep doing what I am good at and love.

If my work and time has added value to your life, past, recent, present, whether through photos that you've enjoyed, through resonating words, camera and shooting advice, please consider pitching in and ride this train of life with me and many people I'll be sharing this journey with. There are also various rewards that may captivate your interest, so be sure to check out what you'd get in exchange for your monthly contributions.

Yes, even $1/month. Seriously. Because $1 is able to feed this belly in several parts of the world that I tend to spend time in. And many of you know I like to eat. 😉

As the co-founder of the Enspiral network, Joshua Vial, says, "... the hope that you can do the work you love, with people you love, on the biggest issues of our time, and get paid well for it.

Patreon is not only a platform, but a catalyst to remove the scarcity mindset and bring all this to life. My promise: I will utilize every dollar with integrity and transparency. Let me paint the vision with you further below. 


Soaking in the smells and beauty in a pine forest in Manali, India. A very happy place and time. Photo by Elsa Cloarec.

Frugal, ethical spending :
(estimates in USD)
  • Living - $0-600/month
    • Depending on where I am, work-exchange, other forms of exchanges, barter, and arrangements. 
  • Food - $0-500/month
    • Depending on geographic location, work-exchange, cooking vs. eating out (infrequent), freegan opportunities/dumpster diving findings. I do what I can to support local food growers and makers, and to not support unethically or unsustainable-sourced, grown, or heavily process/industrialized products. 
  • Phone plan - $10-40/month
  • A slew of web services - about $75/month
    • Adobe, Squarespace, Vimeo, Google Drive, and the like
    • Fun fact: I subscribe to Jumpsuit Records on Bandcamp, which gets me music tracks and supports awesome musicians like The Polish Ambassador, as well as, "... a % of the monies earned gets sent to our 501 C-3 non-profit, ActionDays.us. ... to fund things like community driven gardens, natural building education, installing water catchment systems in low income neighborhoods, rallying communities for river cleanup days & supporting homelessness advocacy groups."
  • Excluding travel and visas, that's roughly $150-1,250 to ensure that I have my basic needs covered. Anything beyond opens up doors. Doors to work with, listen, learn, document, and re-tell the stories of those with little to no budget. Focus on full creative output. 


With one of my favorite humans in Nepal - Narayan Bhattarai, who has been a friend, a teacher, and a brother since starting the journey with Conscious Impact and his community in Takure. We shot and produced a short video about him and his life views. Thanks Ryan Serrano for this image!

What I intend to do with this support :

I want to continue to be an impact documenter and storyteller full time. You can help me achieve and maintain that reality. Become a patron and pitch in at a tier you're happy with and capable of. With your support, no matter the amount, I can continue to witness and capture natural beauty, stories of inspiration, the voices of the voiceless, of innovation, struggle, unity, collaboration, the human conditions, and share them with more of the world. The following is a tentative "game plan" for near future: 
  • Turning pro-bono work into (semi) paid work
    • Because good causes deserve quality-documented and produced content, and good content requires a full stomach to be captured and produced. ;) 
  • Revisit past projects
    • Conscious ImpactThis organization sprouted out of the devastating 2015 earthquakes and has worked in the village of Takure in the Sindhupalchok district of Nepal since August 2015 to rebuild destroyed homes and other buildings alongside the local villagers. This is the community where I've spent considerable time with between late 2015 - mid 2017. Together with the locals and hundreds of volunteers, we have successfully rebuilt and are in the process of rebuilding an orphanage, a school, an office, a community center, and more than 30 family homes using natural building materials and techniques. Throughout our time together, the team and I shot and produced hundreds of images (more here) + dozens of videos that have been utilized on the website, social media outlets, multiple fundraisers, a museum exhibitionpublished in a book, as well as marketing materials, which have kept friends, family, and supporters engaged and connected, attracted more volunteers and donors, and continuously kept the spotlight on the rebuilding and with that, the unity, the spirit, and the progress since. We even scored a piece on CNN(!) for the 2-year anniversary of the earthquake. It is one of the most purpose-driven, meaningful ways to utilize photo/videography and social media for good. *Edit (Nov 2018): I returned for the 2018 season from September to November to be of service on the ground as well as from the US now, thanks to supporters like you! 


      Stuffing one of the first earth bags to rebuild a home in the village of Tamang-ganj, Nepal, for a widowed mother with 3 children. Photo credit to Ariadna Maskiver!
       
    • Beacon Food ForestThe Beacon Food Forest is a community-driven, open-for-all, food-producing garden and forest in the city of Seattle. I love that place. I had the opportunity to serve on its Site Development and Steering Committee between early 2015 - early 2016, and together with my neighbors we did some radical things to bring adults, teenagers, and children of various backgrounds and social-economic levels closer in a safe space that (re)connects people to one another, to food, and nature. The stills I've photographed have been showcased in exhibitions, published in a multitude of online and printed publications, and to this day, I still leverage their Facebook page with a large online community from time to time to spread inspiring projects, innovations, and informative truths about communal, local, and organic food production. 
  • Collaborate with talents
    • Bring in the expertise and help of friends, other creatives, professionals for co-creating impact-driven content, while compensate them fairly for their input and contributions. 
    • To collaborate and scale up our reach, our impact, and uplift one another to places and spaces I couldn't even dream of working solo. The limitations of run/gun/shoot/edit/produce content by myself have become apparent more frequently. I really would be thrilled to collaborate with the likes of the Digital Storytellers and Enspiral.
  • Be open to opportunities
    • A friend shared his perspective before I launched this, and wrote a very valid point - what if an amazing opportunity comes along for me to step away from operating and pitching for a grassroots budget? What if I get connected into the likes of National Geographic? Charity Water? Stick to my values, shoot and spread the word farther and wider. My backpack and tent are always on stand-by. The sky's the limit. If/when that happens, or for any reason I cannot continue to create content regularly, I will definitely inform you all. 
  • Vote with $
    • Continue to purchase goods and hire the services of, and hence supporting, local, fair-trade, organic, non-GMO/GE growers, markets, suppliers, social enterprises, who then in return recreate more value within the local and greater economies
    • Buy used/pre-owned/pre-loved whenever possible (why is this important? see Story of Stuff)
  • Charity and grassroots support
  • Compile, edit, and publish photo books
    • Nepal & Himalaya specific 
    • "Best of" featuring travels, lessons, and stories 
  • Simply art
    • Because what's EARTH without ART? EH. 

Standing inside one of the classrooms of the rebuilt Siddhartha Primary School in the village of Bimire, Nepal, funded entirely by volunteers and grassroots donations from all over the world through Conscious Impact. Hat tip to Dheeraj Mishra for snapping this photo. 

 How I will NOT spend this support :

  • (To the best of my knowledge,) buying industrial, CAFO-produced products, palm oil-filled, non-organic, overly-processed, non-sustainably created or harvested foods, goods, and services
  • Unnecessary items that don't add value to my life

What you get :

Non-monetary value investment. Increasing the critical mass to break the capitalistic, scarcity-ridden mindset, and the subliminal messages from mainstream media and ads that we are not enough, and that we are not worthy. Allowing the spotlight to shine instead on where there hasn't been light. Believing that community, art, and stories have the ability to create systems change.

A word on the rewards : 
It is my intention to formulate a fun, engaging, and hopefully mutually-benefiting exchange with you all. Now ideally, you would maintain your monthly support so we could formulate a long-term relationship through this platform of experiential, experimental too, crowdfunded storytelling for impact via perspective-shifting, action-inducing content creation. 

Although the rewards have been written, I am open in revising or adding more perks one or more tiers. Please know that some rewards, such as FaceTime/video chatting or sending postcards would be very much location/electricity/internet/time-dependent. So, if you live in, say, Panama or Ghana, getting a postcard through would be near-impossible. Likewise, if I am with Conscious Impact in rural Nepal, video calling simply isn't feasible - though more than happy to message directly! The one thing I know for certain I can do is pick up garbage month after month. ;) 

So, say you're pitching at the tier where you'd get a photobook(s) sent to you, but no book gets written or published (due to a plethora of circumstances), then no book can get sent. Of course, life isn't clear cut 98.765% of the time, so I will always maintain flexible to evaluate cases 1 by 1. I am new to this too and I know without a doubt I (we) am going to learn a lot out of this. On the other hand, if you do not feel like you're getting the value you'd like and thought to receive, no hard feelings at all for dropping a tier or 2, or simply pulling out altogether. It's all good. 

Bottom line: I will do what I can with the circumstances and restraints at hand to deliver what I have written on this page. 

At ANY tier - whether $1 to $64/month, please know your contributions are tremendously valued. I promise to utilize every dollar with gratitude and integrity.

 

Track record :

My recent and current projects and collaborations align closely with my passions and values - they spread knowledge, share stories, build connections, cultivate social enterprises that put purpose-people-planet equal to or before profits, challenge and break down old paradigms, build resilience, heal, unite, and empower individuals, communities, and society at large. I wouldn't have it another way. Besides Conscious Impact and Beacon Food Forest, here are some recent collaborators and clients: 
  • Food Resilience Network / Otakaro Orchard - connecting individuals and communities to build local food resilience, and building the region's first urban food forest and hub 
  • SEEDS - an ecologically and economically decentralized platform inspired by permaculture, systems thinking, sociocracy, sacred economics, blockchain to promote deeper systems change and localize organic food for all (look up these terms if you're not familiar - truly fascinating new boundaries we're exploring together). 
  • Australian Youth Climate Coalition Gold Coast - empowers young people to take meaningful & fulfilling action for climate justice 
  • Resilience Organisations - bringing resilience to survive disruption and thrive in a ever-changing world 
  • Ministry of Awesome - cultivating social entrepreneurship in Christchurch 
  • TEDx Christchurch - the iconic TED talks and gatherings 
  • School of Wonder - hands-on, experiential learning for youth in New York City 

Crowdfunding
I've leveraged crowdfunding for personal and external projects since 2013, and really value the responses and contributions that have come out of my experiences. It allows a more direct donor-to-beneficiary relationship, and with that, a deeper connection that can be established unlike traditional donation models of the past. 

In late-2013, I ran my first crowdfunding campaign, "A Pixel-Filled Bicycle Tour," to support my pedal-powered journey down the west coast of North America - a 2000+ mile (3300+ km) ride powered by calories, spandex, and some perseverance. I raised $3165, and sent about 50 backers their rewards in the form of postcards and photo prints. I also donated 10% of the net proceeds to 350.org, and another 10% to Conservacion Patagonica, two projects that I've followed and believe strongly in their cause and mission. The money left after printing and shipping costs went into purchasing my current laptop (edit (Jul 2018): old laptop!), which has created nearly all of the content I put out since from January 2014 to July 2018. 


Cycling amongst the giant redwoods in northern California for the bicycle-and-farm tour mentioned above. We raised ~$520 for 350.org and Conservacion Patagonica through this trip.

Following the devastating earthquakes in Nepal in 2015, I created a second crowdfunding campaign titled "Rebuilding, learning, and storytelling in Nepal" to gather funds to send myself and a bunch of photo & video gear to join up with several friends and dozens of global volunteers with the intention of rebuilding with Conscious Impact. With the help of some 30 backers, we raised just over $3000, and I was able to spend 6 incredible, enlightening, and sweaty weeks with the community to set up the foundations and early infrastructure necessary for long-term rebuilding with natural building materials and techniques, while documenting and showcasing the people, place, purpose, and perseverance that we witnessed. The $900 that was originally allocated as a donation to Conscious Impact in turn allowed me to fly back 6 months later in April 2016 and multiple times again until May 2017, henceforth exponentially increased its value and impact. That's fundraising for 6 weeks evolving into well more than a year of work and love. 

Crowdfunding for others :

Speaking at PechaKucha Christchurch, New Zealand about 
finding my purpose through travel, service, and photography. Photo snapped by Jonny Knopp

FAQ

How have you been affording your lifestyle, gear, travels in the past and currently? 
Great question. Let me start with this: I am extremely frugal, almost to a fault. I would like to acknowledge that I have lived off the generosity and kindness of many people - friends as well as strangers, past and present, and am tremendously grateful for them each and everyday. I have brought in financial assets and other forms of value in various ways. One is my ability to carry my craft and offer it as a service wherever I go - I've taken up one-time as well as contract work in many places I've lived in and traveled to. I've learned to be resourceful. I frequently participate in barter, work/value-exchanges, and real-sharing economy "to share resources, knowledge, and decision-making responsibilities" to (greatly) reduce my need and dependency on capitalistic(-only) transactions. I often dumpster dive, and ask stores for their discounted/bruised/ugly fruits and produce and near-sell-by-date foods. That minimizes the cost for sustenance significantly. I also hardly ever eat out, unless I am in an affordable region. I hunt down and purchase primarily used goods/gear - saving hundreds upon hundreds of dollars, and also minimizes the environmental footprint greatly.
Fun fact: I traded camera lenses with a friend and added into the deal 2 rounds at the pub and a nose piercing (for him). 

Will you settle down at one point?
Ha! I get asked this often. I will, but I couldn't tell you when. What I can tell you is that, whether I do or do not, soon or in the distant future, I intend to keep doing this and keep getting better at my craft while finding more people who operate with these values as I have the health and physical and mental capabilities. I'll probably build a tiny house within an intentional community where I "settle." Follow along and I shall keep you posted! 

I don't have much money, how can I support or become a Patron?
Tell others about this/me, and only sign up what you can easily afford. Even $1 per month adds up, and is absolutely appreciated! :) 

Can I stop donating or change donation levels in the future? 
Most definitely! You can log in to change or cancel your pledge whenever you like. If you cancel, you'd still have access to patron-only posts until the end of the month that you've pledged. 

Where I can see your published work?
Via my website at subtledream.com and on social media channels: FacebookInstagram (@subtledream), Vimeo

Will you photograph my wedding/engagement/family/baby/project?
Yes! That is one of the best ways to support me. Talk to me and let's set the date. :)

Did you study photography/film in school?
Nope. I studied earth and environmental systems and sciences + sustainability at University of California San Diego & Scripps Institution of Oceanography. I absolutely loved my program. It has given me the perfect "lens" in seeing and appreciating the physical world and its living beings through geologic time and our impact on the environment, while embedding that perspective and knowledge into my work and stewardship of our planet. 

What drives you?
Pachamama, and her gifts to us. Wilderness. Nature. Mountains. Flowing water. Colors. Adventures. Beauty beyond the physical. Open air. Bicycles. Music. Music. Did I say music yet? Friendships. Connections. Stories. Brotherhood. Sisterhood. Knowledge. Wisdom. Chocolate. And ice cream (especially coconut). 

If you've gotten ALL the way down to here and still like to see & hear more, listen to my 6-minute-40-second PechaKucha talk, or tune into to my 1-hour+ podcast on "Seeds: Talking Purpose" a series created by Steven Moe, who is one of my patrons right here. 

Gratitude!



Cycling through the magical Spiti and Pin Valley near the Tibetan border in Himachal Pradesh, India, with a few bags of life necessities, such as about 7kg's (15 lbs) of camera gear.

Special thanks to Steve Tracy in telling me about Patreon initially, and to Preston Hegel, Kristine Schiman, Nils Folger, Sue & Tony Angles, Rieki Cordon, Zara Choy, Ibaia Kervella, Briody Fahey, and Zana, Tina & Quentin Wright, for helping me proofread this page, giving valuable feedback before it launched, and/or hosting me during this time. Your support, dedication, and friendship are valued tremendously. 
Tiers
Cheers! and 5% off prints
$1 or more per month 5 patrons

Tune in, see supporter-only updates (ex: behind the scenes, short videos, stories/blast from the past) and together help me support others through photography, videography, and storytelling 


You also get 5% all prints, any prints, off my website!


So, what's a dollar these days? 

  • ~10 mini samosas in the rural village in Nepal where Conscious Impact operates
  • 3-6 milk teas in India or Nepal 
  • (nearly) a meal in much of Nepal, Thailand, Cambodia, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, and more 
  • ~20-30% the cost to stay a night at a hostel in many regions of these countries 
  • A mini pile of ugly fruit and produce from markets and wholesellers
  • And a whole lot more love, especially coming from you!
10% off prints + garbage pickup
$2 or more per month 8 patrons
  • 10% off prints on my website 
  • Every month, I'll pick up an extra piece of garbage in your name, and (do my best to) post photos of it on social media
15% off prints + shoutout + photo lib
$4 or more per month 15 patrons
  • 15% off prints on my website! 
  • shoutout on future posts/social media (unless you don't want to, all good) 
  • access to library of photographs from years of travels, past, present, and future [for personal use only  - e.g. wallpapers] - this will be massive 
20% off + credits + non-profit license
$8 or more per month 13 patrons
  • 20% off prints from my website! 
  • credits in future videos and projects (so long as you're still a patron :) )
  • ability to use and publish my photographs (think stock images) [for non-profits, social enterprises, blogs, grassroots initiatives only - please verify with me first] 
30% off + postcard + vids + com. license
$16 or more per month 6 patrons
  • 30% off prints! 
  • a beautiful postcard from me to you, once a year (Dec/Jan send out, some locations (e.g. Nepal) may not be feasible) - the idea is that you'd stay a patron for medium/long term so that this becomes a reoccurring happening :) 
  • access to an expanded library of photos + 1080p-4k resolution time-lapse sequences (for personal, non-profit, AND commercial use)
45% off prints + giveaways + tree
$32 or more per month 0 patrons
  • 45% off prints! 
  • regular giveaways (e.g. prints, future photobooks, and more) - details TBA! 
  • a native or medicinal/food/fruit-bearing tree will be planted and cared for in your name, every year, in community gardens I've taken part in or through friends' projects worldwide
60% off + signed prints & photobook(s)
$64 or more per month 0 patrons
  • 60%(!!) off prints
  • You'll get a signed copy of any photobook that I publish in the future.
  • Every year, you choose your favorite photo to get an enlargement of - 12x18, 16x24, 20x30 - and I'll cut a custom matting for the print, sign it, and mail it to you. 
  • I'll tattoo your name onto my... wait, scratch that. 
Goals
$256 of $400 per month
Start compiling, editing, and writing a photo-licious book on the Himalayas - the way of life there, my travels in various regions there, reflections - much of it through the lens and perspective living and working with Conscious Impact.
3 of 5

The less than 280-character summary :

I capture beauty and create content wherever I live and travel. As an impact storyteller, this platform and you have the capacity to sustain my work, livelihood, and further my reach with value and purpose-driven individuals and projects for social and environmental good worldwide. 

Wait, who are you?

I am a Hong Kong-born, California-raised, earth and climate science-educated, permaculture-minded, dumpster-diving/food-saving-opportunivore, and camera-equipped traveling documenter and storyteller who frolicks in the mountains, cycles everywhere, with a burning passion to co-create a more beautiful world we know is possible through stewarding our planet, systems change, and inspiring, uplifting stories.


Sitting on the earth, watching coffee trees being planted, and capturing the magic of cross-cultural collaboration and knowledge sharing with the Conscious Impact team. My happy place. Big thanks to Rebeca Segal for snapping this!

The full picture :

What life has taught me is the power of stories, the goodness in people, the resilience of communities, and the wisdom of the earth. I typically introduce myself as a traveling photo and videographer, however, I believe my life and story go much deeper than that. 

If I could attempt to condense these years of travel, service, learning, and photography, it's this: We humans absolutely have the capacity, and much more in common than we currently believe to co-create a more beautiful world that our hearts know is possible (thanks Charles Einstein for articulating it so). That food and stories bring people together. And everyone is a student, and everyone is a teacher.

Although I was brought up in Hong Kong and Los Angeles, I feel more at home and at ease away from urban environments, and would rather be associated as a fellow citizen of this planet. My background and formal education is in earth sciences and sustainability, and my passions have branched off into conservation, wilderness, permaculture, systems thinking, decolonization, indigenous peoples' culture and knowledge, community engagement, food systems/sovereignty/waste, and of course, photo and videography.

We live in a bizarrely inspirational yet despairing time in human and earth history. It's perhaps easier than ever to spiral downwards with the myriad of attention-grabbing and tragic headlines in the mainstream channels, and forget the prevailing forces of good, resilience, and beauty that surround us even more often.

In recent years, photography to me has evolved to not simply be about immortalizing moments in time, but a medium and channel through which beauty and humanizing, vital stories can be told and reshared.


About 50 volunteers of all backgrounds from over the world gathering at the Conscious Impact camp to share, to learn, and to serve one another and the greater community.

Travel, service, and photography have helped me discover my purpose, and that purpose at this moment is to not only engage and take active part in seed-planting, earth-healing, and mind-expanding projects and initiatives, but also fill the role of storytelling alongside countless others who have been upholding this craft for generations upon generations.

I will continue to capture, write up, and create content on stories passed onto me or of personal experiences gathered from wherever life brings me (back) to next. I refer, of course, to positive, uplifting, impactful snapshots and stories, often untold, that shine light on abundance, and of natural and humanizing beauty that exist all around us. 

As my good friend Alyson Noele Sagala says it so well, "To work towards something you believe in requires profound commitment, and commitment is not easy - but goddamn if it's not the most fulfilling thing I have allowed myself to experience thus far."

Here's my dilemma: all the content I've posted and published have been free, but the creation process of this content isn't free. The gear, the travel, planning, accommodation, food, phone plans, work spaces/internet, writing, editing, hiring talents and services cost money, time, and more. I have countless individuals to thank for their shared resources to have accomplished what I have, especially in recent years. I am wealthy in connections, friendships, have an abundance in joy, quality food, and opportunities. The only major bottleneck is in the finances. I want to remove this bottleneck because that will allow me to make less compromises, and focus more on content creation and collaborations with those who share this vision.


So joyed to see the Beacon Food Forest community's work (with a couple of my photographs) be showcased at the MOHAI Museum in Seattle.

I value my time and contributions to others and to the world in a monetized society that marginalizes many, including independent artists like myself, and am determined to be innovative in creating a residual income. I wish to revisit projects such as Conscious Impact in Nepal, rebuilding, sharing, and documenting our progress and the stories of the incredible people who take part. Along the same note, I want to continue to offer discounted or pro-bono work for individuals and organizations that may not have a (large) budget, yet their stories are equally important, if not more so.

That's where Patreon comes in. Instead of a one-time contribution on crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, Patreon is set up for reoccurring contributions to sustain my livelihood and creations - and a small trickle from you, and dozens, or even hundreds of supporters to keep the stream flowing and allowing me to keep doing what I am good at and love.

If my work and time has added value to your life, past, recent, present, whether through photos that you've enjoyed, through resonating words, camera and shooting advice, please consider pitching in and ride this train of life with me and many people I'll be sharing this journey with. There are also various rewards that may captivate your interest, so be sure to check out what you'd get in exchange for your monthly contributions.

Yes, even $1/month. Seriously. Because $1 is able to feed this belly in several parts of the world that I tend to spend time in. And many of you know I like to eat. 😉

As the co-founder of the Enspiral network, Joshua Vial, says, "... the hope that you can do the work you love, with people you love, on the biggest issues of our time, and get paid well for it.

Patreon is not only a platform, but a catalyst to remove the scarcity mindset and bring all this to life. My promise: I will utilize every dollar with integrity and transparency. Let me paint the vision with you further below. 


Soaking in the smells and beauty in a pine forest in Manali, India. A very happy place and time. Photo by Elsa Cloarec.

Frugal, ethical spending :
(estimates in USD)
  • Living - $0-600/month
    • Depending on where I am, work-exchange, other forms of exchanges, barter, and arrangements. 
  • Food - $0-500/month
    • Depending on geographic location, work-exchange, cooking vs. eating out (infrequent), freegan opportunities/dumpster diving findings. I do what I can to support local food growers and makers, and to not support unethically or unsustainable-sourced, grown, or heavily process/industrialized products. 
  • Phone plan - $10-40/month
  • A slew of web services - about $75/month
    • Adobe, Squarespace, Vimeo, Google Drive, and the like
    • Fun fact: I subscribe to Jumpsuit Records on Bandcamp, which gets me music tracks and supports awesome musicians like The Polish Ambassador, as well as, "... a % of the monies earned gets sent to our 501 C-3 non-profit, ActionDays.us. ... to fund things like community driven gardens, natural building education, installing water catchment systems in low income neighborhoods, rallying communities for river cleanup days & supporting homelessness advocacy groups."
  • Excluding travel and visas, that's roughly $150-1,250 to ensure that I have my basic needs covered. Anything beyond opens up doors. Doors to work with, listen, learn, document, and re-tell the stories of those with little to no budget. Focus on full creative output. 


With one of my favorite humans in Nepal - Narayan Bhattarai, who has been a friend, a teacher, and a brother since starting the journey with Conscious Impact and his community in Takure. We shot and produced a short video about him and his life views. Thanks Ryan Serrano for this image!

What I intend to do with this support :

I want to continue to be an impact documenter and storyteller full time. You can help me achieve and maintain that reality. Become a patron and pitch in at a tier you're happy with and capable of. With your support, no matter the amount, I can continue to witness and capture natural beauty, stories of inspiration, the voices of the voiceless, of innovation, struggle, unity, collaboration, the human conditions, and share them with more of the world. The following is a tentative "game plan" for near future: 
  • Turning pro-bono work into (semi) paid work
    • Because good causes deserve quality-documented and produced content, and good content requires a full stomach to be captured and produced. ;) 
  • Revisit past projects
    • Conscious ImpactThis organization sprouted out of the devastating 2015 earthquakes and has worked in the village of Takure in the Sindhupalchok district of Nepal since August 2015 to rebuild destroyed homes and other buildings alongside the local villagers. This is the community where I've spent considerable time with between late 2015 - mid 2017. Together with the locals and hundreds of volunteers, we have successfully rebuilt and are in the process of rebuilding an orphanage, a school, an office, a community center, and more than 30 family homes using natural building materials and techniques. Throughout our time together, the team and I shot and produced hundreds of images (more here) + dozens of videos that have been utilized on the website, social media outlets, multiple fundraisers, a museum exhibitionpublished in a book, as well as marketing materials, which have kept friends, family, and supporters engaged and connected, attracted more volunteers and donors, and continuously kept the spotlight on the rebuilding and with that, the unity, the spirit, and the progress since. We even scored a piece on CNN(!) for the 2-year anniversary of the earthquake. It is one of the most purpose-driven, meaningful ways to utilize photo/videography and social media for good. *Edit (Nov 2018): I returned for the 2018 season from September to November to be of service on the ground as well as from the US now, thanks to supporters like you! 


      Stuffing one of the first earth bags to rebuild a home in the village of Tamang-ganj, Nepal, for a widowed mother with 3 children. Photo credit to Ariadna Maskiver!
       
    • Beacon Food ForestThe Beacon Food Forest is a community-driven, open-for-all, food-producing garden and forest in the city of Seattle. I love that place. I had the opportunity to serve on its Site Development and Steering Committee between early 2015 - early 2016, and together with my neighbors we did some radical things to bring adults, teenagers, and children of various backgrounds and social-economic levels closer in a safe space that (re)connects people to one another, to food, and nature. The stills I've photographed have been showcased in exhibitions, published in a multitude of online and printed publications, and to this day, I still leverage their Facebook page with a large online community from time to time to spread inspiring projects, innovations, and informative truths about communal, local, and organic food production. 
  • Collaborate with talents
    • Bring in the expertise and help of friends, other creatives, professionals for co-creating impact-driven content, while compensate them fairly for their input and contributions. 
    • To collaborate and scale up our reach, our impact, and uplift one another to places and spaces I couldn't even dream of working solo. The limitations of run/gun/shoot/edit/produce content by myself have become apparent more frequently. I really would be thrilled to collaborate with the likes of the Digital Storytellers and Enspiral.
  • Be open to opportunities
    • A friend shared his perspective before I launched this, and wrote a very valid point - what if an amazing opportunity comes along for me to step away from operating and pitching for a grassroots budget? What if I get connected into the likes of National Geographic? Charity Water? Stick to my values, shoot and spread the word farther and wider. My backpack and tent are always on stand-by. The sky's the limit. If/when that happens, or for any reason I cannot continue to create content regularly, I will definitely inform you all. 
  • Vote with $
    • Continue to purchase goods and hire the services of, and hence supporting, local, fair-trade, organic, non-GMO/GE growers, markets, suppliers, social enterprises, who then in return recreate more value within the local and greater economies
    • Buy used/pre-owned/pre-loved whenever possible (why is this important? see Story of Stuff)
  • Charity and grassroots support
  • Compile, edit, and publish photo books
    • Nepal & Himalaya specific 
    • "Best of" featuring travels, lessons, and stories 
  • Simply art
    • Because what's EARTH without ART? EH. 

Standing inside one of the classrooms of the rebuilt Siddhartha Primary School in the village of Bimire, Nepal, funded entirely by volunteers and grassroots donations from all over the world through Conscious Impact. Hat tip to Dheeraj Mishra for snapping this photo. 

 How I will NOT spend this support :

  • (To the best of my knowledge,) buying industrial, CAFO-produced products, palm oil-filled, non-organic, overly-processed, non-sustainably created or harvested foods, goods, and services
  • Unnecessary items that don't add value to my life

What you get :

Non-monetary value investment. Increasing the critical mass to break the capitalistic, scarcity-ridden mindset, and the subliminal messages from mainstream media and ads that we are not enough, and that we are not worthy. Allowing the spotlight to shine instead on where there hasn't been light. Believing that community, art, and stories have the ability to create systems change.

A word on the rewards : 
It is my intention to formulate a fun, engaging, and hopefully mutually-benefiting exchange with you all. Now ideally, you would maintain your monthly support so we could formulate a long-term relationship through this platform of experiential, experimental too, crowdfunded storytelling for impact via perspective-shifting, action-inducing content creation. 

Although the rewards have been written, I am open in revising or adding more perks one or more tiers. Please know that some rewards, such as FaceTime/video chatting or sending postcards would be very much location/electricity/internet/time-dependent. So, if you live in, say, Panama or Ghana, getting a postcard through would be near-impossible. Likewise, if I am with Conscious Impact in rural Nepal, video calling simply isn't feasible - though more than happy to message directly! The one thing I know for certain I can do is pick up garbage month after month. ;) 

So, say you're pitching at the tier where you'd get a photobook(s) sent to you, but no book gets written or published (due to a plethora of circumstances), then no book can get sent. Of course, life isn't clear cut 98.765% of the time, so I will always maintain flexible to evaluate cases 1 by 1. I am new to this too and I know without a doubt I (we) am going to learn a lot out of this. On the other hand, if you do not feel like you're getting the value you'd like and thought to receive, no hard feelings at all for dropping a tier or 2, or simply pulling out altogether. It's all good. 

Bottom line: I will do what I can with the circumstances and restraints at hand to deliver what I have written on this page. 

At ANY tier - whether $1 to $64/month, please know your contributions are tremendously valued. I promise to utilize every dollar with gratitude and integrity.

 

Track record :

My recent and current projects and collaborations align closely with my passions and values - they spread knowledge, share stories, build connections, cultivate social enterprises that put purpose-people-planet equal to or before profits, challenge and break down old paradigms, build resilience, heal, unite, and empower individuals, communities, and society at large. I wouldn't have it another way. Besides Conscious Impact and Beacon Food Forest, here are some recent collaborators and clients: 
  • Food Resilience Network / Otakaro Orchard - connecting individuals and communities to build local food resilience, and building the region's first urban food forest and hub 
  • SEEDS - an ecologically and economically decentralized platform inspired by permaculture, systems thinking, sociocracy, sacred economics, blockchain to promote deeper systems change and localize organic food for all (look up these terms if you're not familiar - truly fascinating new boundaries we're exploring together). 
  • Australian Youth Climate Coalition Gold Coast - empowers young people to take meaningful & fulfilling action for climate justice 
  • Resilience Organisations - bringing resilience to survive disruption and thrive in a ever-changing world 
  • Ministry of Awesome - cultivating social entrepreneurship in Christchurch 
  • TEDx Christchurch - the iconic TED talks and gatherings 
  • School of Wonder - hands-on, experiential learning for youth in New York City 

Crowdfunding
I've leveraged crowdfunding for personal and external projects since 2013, and really value the responses and contributions that have come out of my experiences. It allows a more direct donor-to-beneficiary relationship, and with that, a deeper connection that can be established unlike traditional donation models of the past. 

In late-2013, I ran my first crowdfunding campaign, "A Pixel-Filled Bicycle Tour," to support my pedal-powered journey down the west coast of North America - a 2000+ mile (3300+ km) ride powered by calories, spandex, and some perseverance. I raised $3165, and sent about 50 backers their rewards in the form of postcards and photo prints. I also donated 10% of the net proceeds to 350.org, and another 10% to Conservacion Patagonica, two projects that I've followed and believe strongly in their cause and mission. The money left after printing and shipping costs went into purchasing my current laptop (edit (Jul 2018): old laptop!), which has created nearly all of the content I put out since from January 2014 to July 2018. 


Cycling amongst the giant redwoods in northern California for the bicycle-and-farm tour mentioned above. We raised ~$520 for 350.org and Conservacion Patagonica through this trip.

Following the devastating earthquakes in Nepal in 2015, I created a second crowdfunding campaign titled "Rebuilding, learning, and storytelling in Nepal" to gather funds to send myself and a bunch of photo & video gear to join up with several friends and dozens of global volunteers with the intention of rebuilding with Conscious Impact. With the help of some 30 backers, we raised just over $3000, and I was able to spend 6 incredible, enlightening, and sweaty weeks with the community to set up the foundations and early infrastructure necessary for long-term rebuilding with natural building materials and techniques, while documenting and showcasing the people, place, purpose, and perseverance that we witnessed. The $900 that was originally allocated as a donation to Conscious Impact in turn allowed me to fly back 6 months later in April 2016 and multiple times again until May 2017, henceforth exponentially increased its value and impact. That's fundraising for 6 weeks evolving into well more than a year of work and love. 

Crowdfunding for others :

Speaking at PechaKucha Christchurch, New Zealand about 
finding my purpose through travel, service, and photography. Photo snapped by Jonny Knopp

FAQ

How have you been affording your lifestyle, gear, travels in the past and currently? 
Great question. Let me start with this: I am extremely frugal, almost to a fault. I would like to acknowledge that I have lived off the generosity and kindness of many people - friends as well as strangers, past and present, and am tremendously grateful for them each and everyday. I have brought in financial assets and other forms of value in various ways. One is my ability to carry my craft and offer it as a service wherever I go - I've taken up one-time as well as contract work in many places I've lived in and traveled to. I've learned to be resourceful. I frequently participate in barter, work/value-exchanges, and real-sharing economy "to share resources, knowledge, and decision-making responsibilities" to (greatly) reduce my need and dependency on capitalistic(-only) transactions. I often dumpster dive, and ask stores for their discounted/bruised/ugly fruits and produce and near-sell-by-date foods. That minimizes the cost for sustenance significantly. I also hardly ever eat out, unless I am in an affordable region. I hunt down and purchase primarily used goods/gear - saving hundreds upon hundreds of dollars, and also minimizes the environmental footprint greatly.
Fun fact: I traded camera lenses with a friend and added into the deal 2 rounds at the pub and a nose piercing (for him). 

Will you settle down at one point?
Ha! I get asked this often. I will, but I couldn't tell you when. What I can tell you is that, whether I do or do not, soon or in the distant future, I intend to keep doing this and keep getting better at my craft while finding more people who operate with these values as I have the health and physical and mental capabilities. I'll probably build a tiny house within an intentional community where I "settle." Follow along and I shall keep you posted! 

I don't have much money, how can I support or become a Patron?
Tell others about this/me, and only sign up what you can easily afford. Even $1 per month adds up, and is absolutely appreciated! :) 

Can I stop donating or change donation levels in the future? 
Most definitely! You can log in to change or cancel your pledge whenever you like. If you cancel, you'd still have access to patron-only posts until the end of the month that you've pledged. 

Where I can see your published work?
Via my website at subtledream.com and on social media channels: FacebookInstagram (@subtledream), Vimeo

Will you photograph my wedding/engagement/family/baby/project?
Yes! That is one of the best ways to support me. Talk to me and let's set the date. :)

Did you study photography/film in school?
Nope. I studied earth and environmental systems and sciences + sustainability at University of California San Diego & Scripps Institution of Oceanography. I absolutely loved my program. It has given me the perfect "lens" in seeing and appreciating the physical world and its living beings through geologic time and our impact on the environment, while embedding that perspective and knowledge into my work and stewardship of our planet. 

What drives you?
Pachamama, and her gifts to us. Wilderness. Nature. Mountains. Flowing water. Colors. Adventures. Beauty beyond the physical. Open air. Bicycles. Music. Music. Did I say music yet? Friendships. Connections. Stories. Brotherhood. Sisterhood. Knowledge. Wisdom. Chocolate. And ice cream (especially coconut). 

If you've gotten ALL the way down to here and still like to see & hear more, listen to my 6-minute-40-second PechaKucha talk, or tune into to my 1-hour+ podcast on "Seeds: Talking Purpose" a series created by Steven Moe, who is one of my patrons right here. 

Gratitude!



Cycling through the magical Spiti and Pin Valley near the Tibetan border in Himachal Pradesh, India, with a few bags of life necessities, such as about 7kg's (15 lbs) of camera gear.

Special thanks to Steve Tracy in telling me about Patreon initially, and to Preston Hegel, Kristine Schiman, Nils Folger, Sue & Tony Angles, Rieki Cordon, Zara Choy, Ibaia Kervella, Briody Fahey, and Zana, Tina & Quentin Wright, for helping me proofread this page, giving valuable feedback before it launched, and/or hosting me during this time. Your support, dedication, and friendship are valued tremendously. 

Recent posts by Jonathan H. Lee

Tiers
Cheers! and 5% off prints
$1 or more per month 5 patrons

Tune in, see supporter-only updates (ex: behind the scenes, short videos, stories/blast from the past) and together help me support others through photography, videography, and storytelling 


You also get 5% all prints, any prints, off my website!


So, what's a dollar these days? 

  • ~10 mini samosas in the rural village in Nepal where Conscious Impact operates
  • 3-6 milk teas in India or Nepal 
  • (nearly) a meal in much of Nepal, Thailand, Cambodia, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, and more 
  • ~20-30% the cost to stay a night at a hostel in many regions of these countries 
  • A mini pile of ugly fruit and produce from markets and wholesellers
  • And a whole lot more love, especially coming from you!
10% off prints + garbage pickup
$2 or more per month 8 patrons
  • 10% off prints on my website 
  • Every month, I'll pick up an extra piece of garbage in your name, and (do my best to) post photos of it on social media
15% off prints + shoutout + photo lib
$4 or more per month 15 patrons
  • 15% off prints on my website! 
  • shoutout on future posts/social media (unless you don't want to, all good) 
  • access to library of photographs from years of travels, past, present, and future [for personal use only  - e.g. wallpapers] - this will be massive 
20% off + credits + non-profit license
$8 or more per month 13 patrons
  • 20% off prints from my website! 
  • credits in future videos and projects (so long as you're still a patron :) )
  • ability to use and publish my photographs (think stock images) [for non-profits, social enterprises, blogs, grassroots initiatives only - please verify with me first] 
30% off + postcard + vids + com. license
$16 or more per month 6 patrons
  • 30% off prints! 
  • a beautiful postcard from me to you, once a year (Dec/Jan send out, some locations (e.g. Nepal) may not be feasible) - the idea is that you'd stay a patron for medium/long term so that this becomes a reoccurring happening :) 
  • access to an expanded library of photos + 1080p-4k resolution time-lapse sequences (for personal, non-profit, AND commercial use)
45% off prints + giveaways + tree
$32 or more per month 0 patrons
  • 45% off prints! 
  • regular giveaways (e.g. prints, future photobooks, and more) - details TBA! 
  • a native or medicinal/food/fruit-bearing tree will be planted and cared for in your name, every year, in community gardens I've taken part in or through friends' projects worldwide
60% off + signed prints & photobook(s)
$64 or more per month 0 patrons
  • 60%(!!) off prints
  • You'll get a signed copy of any photobook that I publish in the future.
  • Every year, you choose your favorite photo to get an enlargement of - 12x18, 16x24, 20x30 - and I'll cut a custom matting for the print, sign it, and mail it to you. 
  • I'll tattoo your name onto my... wait, scratch that.