First let me apologize for the editing style being a bit different with the accompanying images here. They represent a window into 10 years of my work and I left them as they were first presented.
So, my confession…I have been unsatisfied with my work for some time now. All of those close to me are probably shaking their heads and smiling right now. Might as well confess all over. I’ve never been any good at taking compliments. Loved ones laugh when I return a compliment about my work with me tearing my work apart. Don’t get me wrong, I strive to make my clients very happy (can’t sleep without that), but I realized recently that I wasn’t happy.
My degree and background is in photojournalism. My first experience after college was a book I created in 2002 about a therapeutic wilderness camp for troubled youth in Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania. It was very personal to me because, at 15, I lived there. (Not just a confession, but a past that is part of who I am.) When I was about half way into the project National Geographic photographer Randy Olson gave me a truthful edit in front of others that I’ll never forget. Tore me a new one actually. (Best and only edit I truly remember.) He would look at an image and begin a litany of what was wrong with it.
“There is no moment here.”
“There is no connection here.”
“Don’t use framing as your one and only tool.”
“This project should be in black and white.”
Then he would see an image he approved of and he would tersely comment, “This is great.” before quickly tearing into the next image. Below are a few of the “this is great” images. Thank you Randy for improving not only the book, but also my mind’s eye.
I have had many influences in the last 10 years. Bill Gentile, as my professor, you showed me what passion in life looks like and your friendship was forever sealed when you drove such a distance for my book opening. I love you and Esther both and I know you’ll appreciate I’m coming back to my photoj roots. Gary Harwood you taught me the value of relationships and connecting with your heart and soul before raising your camera. James Nachtwey for showing me that beautiful can be ugly, moving and stir one to action. Zack Arias you demystified the tools of crafting light, injected skill into my work and you did it in open book fashion displaying the human you are. Eli Reed, whose brief meeting left me to continue to this day to learn how to encase a white fire in a gentleness of spirit.
I bring up these influences because they have brought me to where I am today and where I am going. The images below hopefully communicate my new style and what I value most in this point in my life, honor people’s relationships as always, but now with an unforced, impromptu approach that lends itself to visceral images that are singular in spirit of who they are. Beyond a handful of family formals no posing at all. It’s a process I’m happy to explain in detail to anyone.
To my fellow photographers, please know that I respect every style of photography especially when it is produced with passion and makes your clients happy. If you are true to what you love then you can do no wrong.
To my current clients, please don’t worry about this transition and know that I have not forgotten why you hired me. I won’t forget how to light or pose overnight because I certainly didn’t learn them overnight. Know that my work is nothing without you and your wishes are always first in my thoughts.
To my future clients, my family and dear friends I want to say thank you for embracing this change in me, I cannot wait to share this new adventure with you and am forever grateful for your support.
Sincerity is oftentimes imperfect, but there is an innate beauty in those imperfections.