I’ve been doing this for over a decade, and what “this” is seems to evolve all the time. At my core, I’m a troubleshooter, tinkering on projects, embracing the intersection of analog and digital worlds. I grew up in that place: watching the Berlin Wall fall on a TV without a remote controller, making mixtape cassettes, taking 110 film to the drug store with my Grandma. I built this website, change the oil in my 5-speed manual car, and often write on a typewriter to avoid notifications.
During college, I added a sociology minor which I loved. As a business marketing major, the sociology department saw me as anomalous, but it serves with empirical thinking, observations, interviewing folks, and writing about social issues. Marketing opened the door to small creative agencies where I learned photography skills from designers and photographers. They shared their technical skills, how to shoot for copy, and to deliver solutions the client hasn’t anticipated.
After graduating, I managed data and color corrected images at a commercial studio while working at Apple as a trainer. The latter led to some pretty amazing opportunities, physically bumping into Steve Jobs and not getting fired among the most outstanding. Later I turned screws as a hardware technician, a skillset dissimilar from teaching professional photographers they should back up their photographs, yet roles I viewed as co-dependent.
During the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, curiosity and a rare four-day weekend led me to the Gulf of Mexico. A friend connected me with a fisherman, and from a dark, noisy corridor of New Orleans’ French Quarter, we made plans to find BP’s crude oil off of Grand Isle, Louisiana. It remains a pivotal moment in my life. One revelation: soliciting images to an editor, you’re creating the need for a writer. Pitch images and a story to an editor, you’re offering them a solution. Combined with a passion for food, this led to photographing and writing a monthly column in Lancaster County Magazine, discussing agriculture, social issues, and connecting readers to the sources of their food.
Interesting things happen at intersections… two moments in a photograph, subtext in a story… I exist at the convergence of many avenues. Creating human connections, challenging conventions, advocating for a cause, communicating a narrative, that means more in a world saturated with trillions of photographs. I’ve gone around the world in 30 days, documented multiple U.S. Presidents, world-class athletes, acclaimed chefs, students, nurses, and teachers in Kenya, a community afflicted with Hansen’s Disease (Leprosy) in India, job training programs for the formerly incarcerated, ecological and industrial disasters, Amish hands, total strangers, the best chicken pot pie you’ve likely never eaten, and CPAs.