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.
Fast Forward to 1998
Minneapolis, 1998, It was the year that I got into the commercial photography world. The year that changed my trajectory forever. After my four year commitment as an Air Force Photographer, I worked at various portrait studios and other photography businesses but struggled to find that opportunity I was seeking.
One day I came across an ad in the classified section looking for a photo assistant. The next thing I knew, I was in the heart of the photography industry working at studios that were shooting for Target, General Mills, Pillsbury, and Marshall Fields. I knew that I had found my calling.
Don’t Bend, Kick Ass Photos Enclosed
That’s what I stamped on my envelopes when I sent out my promo’s to potential clients. I was loving what I was doing, and I was proud of the work.
While working at various studios around Minneapolis, I found myself wanting to do more creatively. I needed to work on my craft, so I decided to start photographing skateboard, BMX, and the local Minneapolis Hip Hop scene. The subject matter was life-altering, and it transformed how I thought of myself. The more I took pictures, the more my natural photography style developed. The editorial yet artful nature of images shows a culture in Minneapolis that thrives on self expression and creativity.
Well, that was nearly 15 years ago, and things didn’t quite go accordingly to plan. You know how it goes, when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.
I decided to move to sunny California in the winter of 2006 to either make it or break it. Maybe it was a midlife crisis thing, who knows, but the Minneapolis winters did not help. It happened to all work out because after I got to California, I was able to land a studio photographer position at the Clorox Corporation in Oakland. It was an incredible opportunity for me to perfect my techniques in photographing food, product, and people.
These images were photographed for the Clorox Corporation and are subject to Copyright Laws.
As you can see, my career has not been a straight course, but it’s been an incredible ride, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for me next.
What this 30-year career has given me is experience. I bring it to every shoot, and that’s how I will help you and your business. I’d love to work with you, so drop me a line.
Make the most of every opportunity and always shoot to amaze.
Rule #1: If it’s a pain to do but will make the image better, do it. Don’t get lazy.
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