When you come from a small town in the Midwest and you are dreaming of doing something creative in your life, where do you begin? Often people ask, “How did you become a photographer?” well, the answer isn’t so straight forward. My journey has been one of those crooked roads that we all hear about in other stories. If you can believe it, when my creative path began, I wanted to be a painter.
I was always inspired and influenced by other painters such as Fredrick Remington, Norman Rockwell, and Chuck Close. After seeing Chuck Close’s painting method, I also started to paint from photographs. That’s where it all began. I had it in my head that if I became a good photographer, my paintings would turn out even better.
Since I was from a small town in Ohio, the only way I could eventually go to Art College was to join the military like almost everyone else in my family. I knew if I could join, I could take advantage of the GI Bill. There weren’t too many other options for me, as I could barely afford gas to get out out of the state. So I went to my local recruiter and signed up with the U.S. Airforce.
Still Photographic Specialist
When I tell people my story, the next question is, “What did you take pictures of in the Air Force?”. That is a list that seems to be endless. What didn’t I take pictures of is a better way to approach that question. From taking pictures of military operations to photographing officer portraits, documenting plane crashes and car crashes, to photographing events such as retirements, promotions, accommodation ceremonies, the list goes on. Honestly, the most incredible shoot ever in my career was sitting on the back edge of the cargo door shooting C-30’s flying over mountains in Alaska. It was an exciting moment in my career!
Honestly, the experience was invaluable for my career. Not only was I right at the forefront of the digital age, but I was able to start my career shooting film, hand processing all of our film, hand printing all of the prints, and use all the camera formats, 35mm, 2 1/4 and 4×5.