Behind the lens

John Kilar: Happy Trails



Where are you based?

The road

How do you make a living?

Photography and other occasional odd gigs.

What camera do you use?

Various Yashica, Contax and Olympus 35mm point and shoots.

How has travel made an impact on your life?

Traveling has enabled me the space to practice and embody my spiritual beliefs most seamlessly while exploring my freedom to new heights. It has been inspiring me in a multitude of ways and has given me the opportunity to expose myself to numerous new environments and people. I have found so much beauty in diversity while creating more space for heartfelt connections.

What is your relationship to travel/adventure, and what does it mean to you?

Adventure and traveling are two of the main endeavours I seek while following my highest excitement. It is what my soul is constantly seeking. Traveling has occupied the majority of my life for the past 3 years. I’ve been going on adventures since I was a kid but started visually documenting them around 5 years ago.


Shipwrecks Beach on the Southern point of Kauai is one of my favorite spots to go cliff jumping. I met a  Texan kid at a work-trade farm there who had just come up on a junky beater car. He asked me if I wanted to ditch the farm and explore more of the island. I got a hammock and started sleeping on various beaches. This 40-50 foot jump was the first of many adventures to come.

Let the sunshine in

I came across this beautiful forest during my first trip to Big Sur. There was a short trail that eventually lead to a beach. The sun slithering in between the trees set this ethereal mood on a warm spring day in the California coast. I had randomly driven into the campgrounds that lead there, so I haven’t been able to find this spot ever since. This was the only photo I took of that trail.

Vanilla Sky

One of my favorite sunsets I’ve experienced by my old studio in Venice Beach. I lived steps away from the ocean and was blessed to witness some of the most surreal juxtaposition of colors in the sky on a regular basis. This one in particular reminds me of a holographic painting, red and blue.


The trail to Kalalau is one of the true gems of Hawaii. The hike to the beach and valley is 11 miles along the breathtaking Na Pali coast on Kauai. This shot was taken about 4-5 miles in. I hauled in a heavy bag full of food and ended up staying for 2 weeks. It is still one of the most beautiful places I’ve been to this day.

New Years Day Portrait

I met this dude on Hollywood blvd. on my way back from a party on New Years day. He was standing outside of McDonalds. I went up to talk to him and asked to take his portrait. I spaced out on what he was saying but remember that he had a thin voice.

On the edge

We stopped at a beautiful forest in Oregon on our way back from a gathering in Utah a few summers ago. I saw this fallen tree trunk and went on the edge for a photo . This trail eventually led to a beautiful lake we skinny dipped in.

Into the woods

My first Rainbow Gathering was in Washington during the summer of 2011. I’ll never forget hiking my gear down the trail upon entering the site and being in complete awe of my surroundings. The location was beautiful and I’ve been following the rainbow ever since.

Le Bain

You have to take an elevator upon entrering  this club in NYC that leads to the dance floor which has built in hot tubs. It’s a groovy spot to go dance and get weird. Great roof top vibes.


This was during a festival in Northern California called Symbiosis.  I appreciate the fact that you can interact with nature if you feel like taking a break from the shenanigans during the weekend.


Waimea Canyon in Kauai is known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. We drove up there in a friends van to go hike and catch the sunset.  We saw some lovely waterfalls and did some hiking. The weather patterns were pretty far out up there.