City: San Francisco, California

Passions: Storytelling, Filmmaking and Photography

Twitter: @soulsofsf


Garry and I agreed to meet at Samovar, a tea lounge that promotes mindfulness (no phone), and serves teas with stories. As soon as my eyes crossed Garry's, I lost my breath. I did not understand why, except that I was in the presence of a very special soul. Garry's calming smile, and the oolong tea, got me to share my life story a few minutes after. Literally. And two weeks later, when Garry published my story on Souls of San Francisco, he remembered every single word I said. Garry has the unique talent of being able to instantly create a space for people to open up and tell their stories, and leave them feeling awesome. To discover his story, Celeste and I followed Garry on the streets of San Francisco to watch him connect with San Franciscans and capture their stories, then hosted him for a Lebanese breakfast. We found out that in addition to his movie-making ventures and his storytelling blog, Souls of San Francisco, Garry is launching his second book that is currently featured on Kickstarter

On Passion

I found my passion watching movies when I was little. Being in the theater was such an immersive experience. I specifically remember the moment when I saw Glory, with Denzel Washington - I was too young to get it because I was still a little kid and it was about the Civil War, but I got the emotional aspect of it; watching someone die hit my emotional core and I started crying uncontrollably and I remember thinking ‘Wow, movies hit you at a very deep place and I want to be able to do that too.’ I was about 10. After that, I became really into movies, all different types. Fast-forward several years, I’m here in SF at a production film school learning how to make movies. Making movies is so much fun because you have to master so many art forms to make a film.
I learned as much as I could by watching movies, going to school, and observing people and life very intensely. The way I see the world is a direct result of the people I’ve encountered on my path and I’m interested in films because that’s the biggest way to spread your vision. It feels great to come into your own perspective. One you can really believe in, because you have experienced it personally and it’s not second hand info from someone else.
Passion is excitement for being alive and connected with life. You lose a sense of time when you’re in your passion because you’re so engrossed in what you’re doing. I remember when I got my first Mac computer, I sat there and played with it for like 18 hours. Learning iMovie and editing stuff.

On Mastery

I made films throughout school and some after, but soon realized I needed more resources and help realizing my vision. That’s when I started taking pictures. It was something I could do on my own.
Souls of San Francisco started as a visual journal. I just took my camera everywhere I went and documented all my encounters. I really observed the world around me and learned the art of deep listening. When you listen, you get guidance to follow your passion and build energy through mastery of that passion. When you’re focusing your passion, you’re changing your energetic structure. Souls of San Francisco is a representation of my passion.
I keep my mind on it. Thoughts are energy too. Corporations know that, that’s why they try to fill your mind with thoughts of their products through advertising. What they are really doing is focusing your energy to be fixated on them. When I meditate, I create and reinforce the thoughts I want to be playing over and over in my head. Thoughts of love, harmony, dedication and faith. I think it’s really important to set aside time to program yourself to create the reality you want instead of passively accepting mainstream messaging.

On Transition


I’m still figuring out how to make Souls of San Francisco a living. I’ve been doing Souls of San Francisco for 2 years and things are just now starting to fall into place so that I’m making a living through my art. A friend once told me that if you focus on the vision, the details will take care of themselves when they’re necessary. If you’re in a creative field, creativity and logic are opposites. Creativity is about trusting the abstract, logic is about what you already ‘know’ to be true.

On Failure

I think you really fail when you stop trying. I haven’t stopped so I’ve never failed. Everything is a learning experience. The key is the shift of perspective to think of every experience as something you can learn from, and grow from.

On Fear

I have a fear of not being able to support myself in a traditional way; I’ve been figuring out how to be an artist and make my living off of that. I try to keep my mind on positive things because whatever you focus on expands. Fortunately I’ve had a lot of help from my family and community while transitioning. In America, there’s this rugged individualism, you’re supposed to do everything yourself, but that’s not how we’re made. We’re interconnected beings and we need each other to grow. I think that if you need help, you should ask for help - there are more than enough resources here for everyone. Recognize that people like to give. Everyone doesn’t feel comfortable being an artist, but they do like to buy art and support artists because it’s their connection to the creative world.

On Money

I have streamlined my life many times to better support my creativity. I don’t really drink anymore because it’s so expensive, and it was clogging my creative pipeline. Now I’m a total tea junkie and I much prefer the clarity I have now. I had to prioritize the things I spent money on and my wild drunken nights had to go.
To cope, I constantly try to cultivate positive views about money. I’m not denying myself things, but granting myself access to the things I really want. I saw my friend Eric Nielson, who’s a professional wizard, to help me create abundance mantras and positive perspectives. Things like the idea that there’s enough for everyone; what I have doesn’t affect what other people have. I recite those daily to maintain my perspective of abundance.

On Self-Love

Self love is treating yourself like you would treat your best friend. I try to not bad talk myself and to be compassionate to myself when I’m going through things.
Meditation and tea ceremony are rituals I really like that help center me. I also journal to keep track of my mind and what I’m experiencing. You become really aware of your patterns when you write about them.
Some form of physicality definitely helps. I love yoga when I need something yin and capoeira or something like that when I need something more active.

On Inspiration

All the people I meet inspire me, especially in San Francisco because there are so many people doing positive things. And they’re not doing these things simply to get recognition or be famous; they’re doing what they believe in because they want to make the world a better place. My friend Travis is a great example. He does cuddling workshops to help facilitate intimacy and get people comfortable with touch. Every time he greets or says goodbye to anyone, he hugs them. That alone is such a powerful act.

On Support

I was a huge 2Pac fan growing up. It’s crazy to think about all the things he accomplished at his age. Thinking about it now as a 31 year old and realizing he was 25 when he died is crazy. Bob Marley, I really love him because he seems to be ego-less, all of his music is about uplifting people; it’s not about himself. John Lennon, for disconnecting from the commerciality of the world and speaking his truth.
There’s a great sense of interconnectedness here. I feel like everyone I know supports what I’m doing. There’s such a strong community of artists, progressive thinkers here - and I feel really grateful for them. There’s you guys, Freespace, SF Weekly, and pretty much everyone I know.

Advice to the Community

Do one thing that challenges you every day. Really try hard to be a friend to yourself and practice self-love. Follow your bliss. Keep your attention on the things that make you come alive. Know that the universe will support that passion. After all, the world’s a better place when everyone is living their dream.