As unusual as this might sound, my photo career actually started a few years back due to a freak climbing accident in Riverside CA. It was a warm December afternoon and I was just about to clip my rope into the anchors of a popular climb at the Riverside Rock Quarry. Suddenly, I skated off a key foothold and dislocated my shoulder in the process, and proceeded to take a 30' fall before the rope arrested my rapid descent. To make a long story short, my good friend and climbing partner, Walter, lowered me to the ground and carefully put my shoulder back in its place.
As I sat at the base of the climb in disbelief trying to ignore my throbbing shoulder and a bruised ego, i thought to myself, "what the heck am I gonna do now?". I had just recovered from a major knee surgery and couldn't stand the thought of riding the sofa for another 6 months. Then the epiphany lightbulb went off and it occurred to me, "why not get a camera and start taking pictures of my friends doing cool stuff!".
Photography seemed like a good way to stay in the action, and luckily, I was working for the man in corporate America and had a little extra cash to spend on a nice setup. Taking pictures had always interested me, but I really had no idea what I was getting myself into. So I went out and bought my first SLR camera with a crappy kit lens, and quickly realized that photography was much more than just pointing and shooting. I think you get humbled the first time you pick up a real camera and find out how difficult it is to create decent photographs. My first pictures were terrible, I’ll be the first to admit, but I thought they were so cool and I couldn’t stop taking them! My lovely girlfriend Heather would humor me, but deep down she could see that I was struggling to figure this whole camera thing out. So she went out and bought me a photography book for my birthday. The best part about the book was that not only did it teach me how to use MY specific camera, it also contained many of the basic photographic principles and techniques that every shooter needs to know.
I was hooked. All I could think about was taking pictures. Everywhere I went I took my camera along for the ride and just kept shooting. I even called in sick to work a few times to go photograph surfers when the swell was pumping at Seal Beach. My photos still sucked so I just kept trying to learn as much as I could through photo books and by checking out famous photographer websites. Dave Black’s website
was one of the first that I stumbled upon and is still a website that I check on a regular basis. He is truly one of the best teachers and not to mention a great photographer. He had mentioned on his website that he was going to be attending and teaching a course hosted by Rich Clarkson & Associates in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, along with 9 other really famous adventure photographers. It was pretty expensive 1 week course but I figured it would be a great way to get a lot of exposure (no pun intended) in a short amount of time. Not to mention the amazing experience I was sure to have and the great people I might meet.
Corporate America was burning me out and all I wanted to do was take pictures, so I ignored any sense of reason and quit my job to pursue a career in photography. On my way out, I checked in with a former payroll client, Hill Street Studios
, owned and operated by Lawrence Manning and Betty Mallorca. They were a well known photography studio in the area, and they seemed like nice people, so I walked in one day unannounced and asked bluntly for an internship. First they told me I was “crazy!” and then they extended an invitation for me to come out and help out on a BIG stock photo shoot they were setting up with the Shade Hotel in Manhattan Beach. It was a nice introduction to the world of assisting and I have been affiliated with the studio ever since.
My first client was HWI (HouseWares International) and I was asked to shoot some cookware for web use. The work wasn’t glamorous, but I was stoked because it was my first paid gig and I was going to learn a lot about shooting product. Since then, I’ve done product photography for companies such as Dogswell International, Amana Gadgets, and Green Hippo.
At the same time I was building my client base and working with Hill Street Studios, I got back into teaching Scuba at Eco Dive Center
. I’d been diving for 13 years and I thought it might be a good source of income as we were heading into a recession. My plan was to teach scuba part time and shoot on the side. I did that for a few months, but as the recession quickly worsened, it wasn’t long before I was back in the grind full time. I ended up really enjoying myself at Eco Dive Center and was able to earn my PADI Digital Underwater Photography Instructor Credential
. I also developed relationships with a bunch of great people and learned a lot in the way of Underwater Photography.
Through 2009, I worked as a photo assistant and 2nd shooter for Hill Street whenever I could, but spent most of my time underwater. Some of my work can be found on major stock agency websites, Blend, Getty, and Corbis under Hill Street Studios. In November 2009, My girlfriend Heather and I decided to move to Lake Tahoe and take advantage of an opportunity we had passed on the winter before. Tahoe City is where we now reside and we couldn’t be happier. See you outside...