10 Things You Might Not Know About Me
Sometimes when you've followed an artist's work for a while, you feel a desire to peel back the curtain and get to know them on a more personal level. Well, this is me pulling back the curtain....
1 - I Was a Musician & Recording Artist in a past life
I began playing guitar and singing semi-professionally at age 18, and within 3 years I was fortunate enough to have record labels contacting me about possible contracts. However, before anything major had a chance to fully develop, my songwriting partner and I had a major falling out, and we decided to part ways. The whole experience left a really bad taste in my mouth, and I eventually decided to take things in a completely different direction-- church music. Since that time I've served as the worship leader for several different churches, and I can honestly say that I've never felt a greater sense of purpose or had a more rewarding experience with music in my entire life.
2 - i've Only been shooting for 3.5 yrs
Music has always been my primary artistic outlet-- at least until August 2008, when I received a Canon DSLR as an unexpected birthday gift. At first I viewed it as merely an upgrade to my point-n-shoot, but that changed rather quickly...
3 - My Daughter was my whole inspiration for getting into photography
When my wife and I welcomed our first child into the world in September 2008, my life changed in countless ways. One of those ways involved photography, as I suddenly became compelled to take the best photos possible in order to preserve my newborn daughter's youth and beauty.
Then things were elevated to a whole new level once I got my hands on a copy of Zack Arias' OneLight DVD. What used to be simple snapshots quickly turned into full-fledged studio portraits as I began to experiment with different lighting styles. Soon I also began studying Photoshop, which helped me to realize that it can be leveraged as a powerful creative tool in its own right. My head was buzzing.
4 - I Wasn't always a band photographer
I shot mostly family and baby portraits for about 2 years, occasionally dabbling in fashion/glamour (see my Flickr stream for examples). However, my style was becoming more and more commercial as my lighting and Photoshop skills began to mature, but it was still very difficult to charge much of a premium to coincide with the improving quality of my work. After all, I was competing with Craigslist photographers willing to give their work away for practically nothing, and then of course there were the Sears portrait studios of the world to contend with (who are always willing to take a loss on photography services just to get you in the door to purchase items with an infinitely higher markup).
Anyway, in April 2010 I shot my first band promo, and I was instantly hooked. It was not only a perfect match for me artistically, but I realized that I could also begin to charge more because it's technically commercial work. This began a whole new photographic direction for me, and I've never looked back since.
5 - I keep something I like to call a "Swipe book"
If you look hard enough at the world around you, and with the right mindset, you'll see sources of artistic inspiration virtually everywhere. As artists, we're expected to come up with a constant stream of bright new ideas, and when we're "in the zone" it seems almost effortless to do so. However, there are also times when the proverbial well runs dry, and we need something to get the creative juices flowing again.
When I find myself in this situation, I turn to my "swipe book", which is essentially a collection of images from various sources that I've built up over time. Some are from websites, some from magazines, but basically my swipe book contains any manner of art that inspires me. For some images it's the lighting, others the coloration or post-processing, but each one has a noteworthy quality that carries some sort of special significance for me. Each time I turn to my swipe book I come away with renewed energy and vigor, ready to create my next "masterpiece".
If you're a photographer or any other kind of visual artist, I highly recommend doing this (if you aren't already). Our memories aren't perfect-- if you see something that moves you, don't count on your brain to retrieve it at the critical moment. Take a second and capture it so that you can come back to it later and examine it further. On those days when you're searching desperately for sources of inspiration, a swipe book can be a godsend.
6 - i've got a Soft spot for Christian artists
I usually keep my religious beliefs separate from my business affairs, but I will say that when it comes to helping to promote Christian artists, I have frequently been known to go the extra mile. This may equate to some sort of discount or even a freebie here or there, but I tend to think of it as a token of gratitude for all of the ways I am truly blessed. Of course I subscribe wholeheartedly to the notion of "pay it forward" as it pertains to everyday life, but in this case it's something much more. I'll just leave it at that.
7 - my First "big break" came when I got published in a best-selling Photoshop book
The only real recognition I'd ever earned with my photography during my first few years came as a result of being recognized as a finalist for "Emerging Photographer of the Year" by Photofocus.com blogger Scott Bourne. However, that all changed with a single phone call.
One evening while editing photos, I heard the familiar buzzing noise of my cell phone vibrating on the desk next to me, and I picked it up to find an unfamiliar number flashing on the screen. After exchanging the normal pleasantries with the unidentified caller, I was utterly shocked and starstruck to discover that the voice on the other end belonged to none other than world-renowned Photoshop expert, best-selling author, and resident KelbyTraining Lightroom über-instructor Matt Kloskowski. Turns out he was calling me to ask permission to use one of my images in his upcoming book on Photoshop layers. I was floored.
Fortunately, this situation turned out to be much more than a one-time fluke, as Matt sought my compositing expertise on numerous occasions during the course of writing his subsequent Photoshop book (he even thanked me in the Acknowledgements section-- cool guy!), and we even did a band photo shoot together. We've also got plans to collaborate on some interesting conceptual photo shoots in the near future, so it ought to be great year!
8 - I'm not a full-time photographer
As much as I would love to shoot and edit pictures every day, I actually work a normal 40hr/wk job in Information Technology. Between work, family obligations, and everything else on my plate, there's really not very much time left over for photography. However, I've managed to turn this into a good thing, as it forces me to be much more methodical in the way that I do things, which ultimately improves the quality of my work. Or at least I'd like to think so.
9 - I'm entirely self-taught
It's truly amazing what you can learn for free on the internet these days. Between blogs, books, videos, how-to articles, tutorials, and countless photography forums filled to the brim with lighting and Photoshop gurus willing to help all the "newbs" out, there's never been a better time to learn photography.
10 - I'm a social media addict
One problem I have is that I frequently find myself absolutely swimming in spare time and wondering what to do with it all. Ummmm.......yeah. Anyway, I do try my best to stay as active as possible on various social networks, because these days if you don't network, you die (at least in a marketing sense). So if you've got accounts on Facebook, Twitter, 500px, Pinterest, LinkedIn, or Flickr, let's connect!