I stumbled across the Passion Passport/Adobe Student project on Instagram a few months back and noticed they were having a meet and display in downtown LA. With only 10% of an idea of what I was getting myself into, I went to the meet where I was so amazed at the work all of these students have done, and so impressed with how Adobe and Passion Passport are intentionally raising up passionate, talented, young creatives. I, being one of those, was very excited. 

I got to know many (very cool) people, and one was named Andrew Ling. A few months later, here he is, telling us all about his project and what he learned:

What was the Passion Passport project?

For Passport to Creativity, Adobe and Passion Passport teamed up to send six students on creative assignments around the world. Zenzele Ojore (Rhode Island School of Design) and I were sent to Torres Del Paine National Park in Patagonia--where we used our creativity to capture and interpret the environment's sights, sounds, and sensations. Adobe turned our work (along with work of the other students) into a multimedia installation in downtown LA during Earth Day weekend-- to raise awareness for these protected landscapes we were sent to. 

How did you hear about it and what was the application process like?

My younger sister, Teresa told me she saw a Facebook ad online from Adobe and said I should apply! I turned in some photos from my portfolio, and got an email to interview with Adobe for the project. A few weeks later they informed me I had been selected to go to Patagonia! If you're a student/creative, make sure you follow @AdobeStudents and @PassionPassport on social, they have so many cool programs like this one you can apply for!

Where did you go and for what purpose?

Zenzele and I went to Patagonia, where Passion Passport provided us with a wonderful mentor (Michael George). Over the course of two weeks, we used Adobe Creative Cloud to do what we knew best--to create. In the end, the goal was to increase awareness in helping to protect our environment--and also to inspire and empower other students to do world changing things. 

What are the top 3 things you learned?

1) Travel. As much as you can. As far as you can. As often as you can. Life is too short to be lived in one place. There is so much to see out there, and you'll learn more about yourself than you could ever imagine. Get out there!

2) Cliché, but follow your heart. Life is short, find what you love and do it. All through college I had studied business. Yet all along I loved anything that was art. The Passport to Creativity opportunity came out of nowhere, but it changed my life because I kept taking photos and creating, even when everyone around me was wondering what on earth I was doing. I've since graduated with my Marketing degree, and am pursuing photography full time. I've never been happier. 

3) Be selfish--sometimes. This is something our mentor Michael George would constantly remind us of. He is one of the youngest people to ever shoot a full mobile spread for National Geographic Magazine. He is one of the nicest and funniest people I've ever met, and it was surprising at first when the words 'be selfish' came out of his mouth. I thought he was kidding at first until he explained, sometimes you just have to go for it as a photographer. You have a responsibility to capture moments, some of which will be gone forever. 

4) I'm including one more because I think it's important. I feel like being 'young' is often seen as being inexperienced, or bad at something. I think it's the opposite. We, the youth have insight tied to our generation that no one else can understand quite like us. We know how to sell and market things to people our age. We understand people that are our age. This isn't meant to take anything away from older generations They're better than us at different things. I just feel like the just scales aren't balanced right now, and young people are too often seen as inexperienced and less valuable. That's not always true. To all the young creatives out there, you are valuable. Don't ever sell yourself short. Also, when I say 'young' and 'old' it's all relative. There's no specific age. You can be young at 60 years old. Stay creative and have an open mind. Don't settle. Jeez I hope this doesn't come off as sounding entitled! Promise that's far from who we are. 

What kind of camera equipment do you use?

I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark III, and DJI Phantom 4! I don't like carrying a ton of equipment when I don't need to, so you'll often find me shooting with my iPhone 6S+ and a set of Moment lenses

Are there any rules you live by for your creative work?

Again another cliché, but be yourself. People are going to push and pull you in every direction possible; people will try to tell you who they want you to be--personally, and artistically. Just remember there isn't one person in the world that everyone loves. 

Which artists inspire you?

As a photographer, anything and everything inspires me. I'm inspired a ton by music artists, and people are probably going to make fun of me for this, but I love Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift. Justin and Taylor I feel aren't afraid to be vulnerable, regardless of their social status. They kind of do what they want and sing about what they want, without being afraid of people laughing at them which is something I can relate to. I feel artists are often counted out by people in society, for choosing the less conventional path. 

As far as photographers and videographers go, there are SO many that inspire me that I wouldn't even be able to list them all. Totally hate to pull the 'you know who you are,' but I have to. So many people make fun of 'Instagram' photographers for a myriad of reasons, some of which are valid--but there are countless amazing people/artists on there. 

Zenzele, with whom I went to Patagonia, is amazing. I feel like her work deserves way more attention, which she never goes out seeking. Beautiful things never seek attention, but her work deserves more of it. I've never seen anything like it. She's been one of my biggest supporters, every time I doubt myself she's been there to pick me back up. She's an amazing person. You should probably interview her next :).

Check out some of her work here.

Anything else you want the world to know?

Be weird. Be nice. Love everybody. 

Follow Andrew on Instagram: @andrewling
 Andrew also made a pretty cool lightroom preset that is available for purchase here!