To jump-start, I'm 35 and am essentially a self-taught photographer.
I started when I was 16; my grandfather gave me my first camera when I
was a sophomore in high school, and rarely have I stopped shooting
since (my father was into photography when he was younger as well, but
he only dabbled in it as I was growing up). I used to work a great deal
in mixed-media too, but not having as large a studio space any more
(that I'm free to dirty up) is primarily what prevents me from working
in that medium still. Most of my current work is environmental, not
studio-based, and for the moment I prefer it as such.
I'm a native Floridian; born in Tampa, raised in Sarasota. After a seven year relationship I spent the better
part of 2008-2009 working & shooting in Paris and now reside in Clearwater, FL. Aptly being
named the "cultural coast", it should come as no surprise then that I
was raised in the arts growing up--and being raised so, I felt that an
inherent sense of composition was as good a reason as any for starting
photography. Even as a child I loved drawing & painting things that
stood out from the rest of the class's body of work and as a teenager
thought photography would be the next logical step in that progression.
But every medium is different, so I actually wound up jumping into it
with the usual amateur mistakes; essentially just not putting enough serious thought into
the "why" of what I was doing instead of focusing on the human elements of what all
the medium was capable of. Then I began shooting only people, and all
the nuance of emotion and feeling that I had been looking for just
seemed to fall into place.
The female form of course, just so happened to turn out to be my
favorite; there is honestly no greater, tireless, more ever-inspiring
beauty to be found. Fondly enough, it's still easy to recall that ubiquitous
elation upon getting my first nude model--I was so excited to finally
have this girl in front of my lens that I actually wound up cheating on
my girlfriend at the time. The model was her best-friend to tell you the
unpleasant truth, and I can't remember whether I got infatuated with
her because she let me shoot her or I wanted to shoot her because I was
so crazy about her. Probably the latter.
I will say, that even for high-schoolers, as two artists we did have
one hell of a passionate affair though--amour fou, in every sense--and
speaking creatively, one way that I grew from the experience was
learning just how powerful and important that chemical/emotional/sexual
energy was to my art, and how to channel it into my work. As a kid, it
was the first time the reality of the cliched "shoot what you know"
really sunk in. Even thought the work wasn't graphic at all, the raw
feeling I had for this girl wound up showing through in each piece and
really took the emotive quality of my work at the time to a whole other
level. And quite frankly, the more personal one makes their work, the
more successful it's likely to look; both conceptually and
When I started shooting back then, my first camera was an Olympus OM3
that my grandfather gifted me out of the blue. It was fantastic; I felt
lucky enough to not only get a barely used SLR--not to mention a slew of
lenses, filters, and other equipment as well; the whole nine yards. So, aside from film & processing,
I didn't have to spend a dime on my new hobby for years. Damn lucky.
As for current equipment, I'm shooting with the D90 from Nikon; unfortunately
I'm rarely satisfied with anything and face constant temptation from foreign equipment. But, that can
be good when it drives one
to keep experimenting and pushing the boundaries. Of course, I've always preached
that it's not the equipment that matters, it's the artist (you'll find a vast number of the pictures herein
were done with non-DSLR equipment); I honestly miss shooting with point & shoot cameras--the spontaneity and
limited features they have really tends to push one's creativity away
from feature-dependency. Sometimes I regret selling my Canon G9--I
believe I got some spectacular pictures with that camera, if I may say
And then there's the inevitable argument of film vs digital. When I
started shooting in high school (around '92-93) digital wasn't even an
option for photographers yet, so I got knee-deep into film itself:
color, b&w, infra-red, instamatic, under-water disposables, 4x5",
8mm, etc. (eventually even making my own emulsions on glass for
large-format)--anything I could get my hands on--you name it. It wasn't
until I got into college that I started using a darkroom to do my own
work. Prior to that I just dropped off my negatives at a local lab
and waited a few days for my 3x5's. I only got enlargements if the
project I was working on called for them (I was mainly working in
mixed-media at the time, so most of my "photographic" work actually
involved photo-transfers with a xerox machine and lacquer thinner).
The driving factor behind me getting into a darkroom at all was
actually a bit funny; around '98 or so I had been dating this gorgeous blond
for a while and shot her like it was going out of style. One shoot, we
decided to costume-play the 'lolita' thing (after seeing Adrian Lyne's
"Lolita" that year) and dressed her up in pig-tails and a bikini,
roller-skates & lollipops--the whole nine yards. Mind you, even
though she was almost 22, extremely well-shaped (to put it mildly), and 5'6"
she managed to pull it off quite convincingly.
A little too convincingly I found out, when a few days after dropping
off my negatives for developing, two detectives from the DA's office
showed up doing their best Edgar Allan Poe's "Raven" on my door.
Embarrassingly enough, in order to prove her date of birth, I actually
had to show them to my girlfriend's place of employment in order to get
her drivers license; as, naturally, I didn't have a copy.
Needless to say, I began processing all my own film after that (I
also started getting signed release forms with picture ID's, as well...)
On a side-note, it was fortuitous that I had managed to collage some
of my photography into my sketch-books at the time, as I came home from
classes a few weeks later to find my apartment minus one girlfriend, but
plus one box of torched negatives. It was self-explanatory at that
point that I would no longer be able to see any of my work pre-1998,
ever again. I must admit though, I remember actually managing to eke out
an odd smile standing there grimacing into that sad little box, which
seemed to only look back at me like the charred middle-finger it was
intended to be; I felt like the guy you see in his front-yard staring at
the smoldering remains of his house, where the only thing left standing
is the chimney--a bittersweet reminder of where the fire should have
been kept in the first place.
Anecdotes aside--after getting pretty acquainted with the darkroom
that semester, some of the first digital cameras starting hitting the
streets. By this point I knew I was pretty adept at processing &
printing and swore up and down there was no way in hell I would ever
convert over to digital. Heresy. Absolutely absurd.
Anyway, during college I was fortunate enough to get an internship at a
fine-arts gallery, which eventually turned into a directorship of my
own arts gallery--just a 501(c)3 not-for-profit in a shit-hole Florida town--
but something creative
that was mine to run, none the less. While working there I started
making contacts in the modeling business and wound up eventually
shooting freelance for the fashion & adult industries as well; got
some great gigs out of that too. It paid well enough but I found I could make near six-figures in the
sales-world, so I wound up selling
off all my equipment and whoring it for corporate America, barely
half-way through my twenties.
Around 2004 or so, the corporate bullshit had really taken a toll on
me and I was dying for another creative outlet. I got back into photography
just as a hobby by biting the digital bullet and buying a Canon
Powershot, 3.1 Mp. That was also the same year I got my first iMac, so
with a bootlegged edition of Photoshop and a new HP photo printer, I was
good to go. After getting skilled at digital as my new
creative medium-du-jour, I was now practically scoffing at analog
photography; what with its ridiculous egg-fart chemicals and its wait
& waste printing times. Now my thought was, fuck it--I'll never
touch analog film again.
While the Olympus has long since been replaced, I do still have an
old 1950's Crown Reflex 4x5" that I adore, that my father gave me. And
on occasion I do love playing with Fuji's instant 4x5" pack-film in it.
Unfortunately, again never being satisfied with anything, I still yearn
to go out with a huge 8x10" camera again someday. Self-made emulsions,
platinum palladium printing--all that jazz--real Jock Sturges style.
I've been asked if I ever expected to be good at my current subject
matter, to which I have to answer yes, and no. I was quite successful
when I was a mixed-media artist--as far as exhibiting and award shows
go--but the entire time I was growing up I never saw myself as being a
The main reason I enjoy my current style so much is because I think
these pieces are quite refreshing, so to speak, compared to the majority
of what else is out there. The reviews of my published & exhibited work often state
that my style is uncannily recognizable on it's own, without credit or signature.
I think that's not only due to the style & look, but mainly because my recent work reflects what
too many others are neglecting: that it's okay to be simple and
brutally honest with the image that you're attempting to capture. And
there's absolutely no reason you can't do work that's both shocking and
affectionate or sentimental at the same time.
It's all too easy to get trapped in the "band-wagon" mentality,
especially artistically; so many photographers have work that is almost
indistinguishable from the next because it's just a facsimile of the
same subject matter and the same style (or worse, lack thereof)--that
is, style without substance. And there's an easy cure to this epidemic,
not mention an easy way to avoid it too, but the irresistible draw of
acceptance in what everyone-else-is-doing (not to mention fear of
straying from ones comfort zone) seems to cancel out any critical
thought or aesthetic analysis in people.
Meaningless facsimile is the HIV of the art-world.
I guess aside from that, one other thing that peeves me lately about the
stagnancy in photography is in this era still hearing so many gripe
that "there's no soul in digital photography". The same thing was said
about electronic music during the advent of synthesized sound. What
they're not owning up to is that's just a feeble excuse for those who
either can't master or simply don't understand a certain medium. If
there's no "soul" in a piece, it's not a weakness of the medium; it's a
weakness of the artist. It's the artist's responsibility to put it
In fact, I think the reason why we use the word "soul" at all in
correlation to the arts is because every art form, every medium, has
it's own genesis, its own sentience, and eventually, its own death
(whether we're willing to admit it or not).
Regardless of what medium I've ever worked in, I guess that's
essentially what I've been trying to capture and figure out since I
started painting as a child: why do I feel a certain way when I see
something, where does that feeling come from, and how can I put it into
Every medium, every piece is its own being, just as each individual
artist is; it's the responsibility of the artist to figure out how to
bring that to life. It is our duty to continually push ourselves and
others into not only finding, but defining a unique and creative vision
that speaks for itself, and speaks loudly.