Sharing my story through pictures
Business school was a natural path in life for me. Growing up in Long Island, art was never a consideration as art was seen as not a “real” career and back then the idea of being a “starving artist” was unconscionable. I worked for the family business while in high school in private medical transportation. It involved washing ambulances, doing oil changes and changing tires. Eventually I worked as the dispatcher in the office, working overnight shifts and then riding along for routine medical transportation. I loved the work and how it pleased my father. When I went of to college my job was to have fun during my time at the University of Miami and get a 3.0 in my spare time at business school. My plan was to stay on the path and dad would take care of the rest of my life. I envisioned running the family business by my late 20’s and life would be perfect and prosperous. One day in my sophomore year of college, my father called to tell me it’s all gone - the business, the house, the vacation home along with all the financial security of life. He had gotten himself into some legal trouble and things were about to change. Through grants and loans, I was able to finish school while my family made the transition to a new life in Las Vegas.
By now I have a degree in hand and I had no idea what I was going to do. While in Las Vegas, I began working in the service industry where I waited tables and discovered a very different side of life. I learned how to take care of myself. I made half-hearted attempts to use my degree to get a ‘respectable’ corporate job, but nothing came of it. When my father founded a new business, a monthly publication aimed at the 55+/senior community in Las Vegas, I was in charge of distribution. His newspaper looked like it was in desperate need of a facelift so I began to self teach Photoshop. I became obsessed. Around this time I got my first camera, a 4 megapixel point and shoot Kodak that accompanied me to senior events, snapping photos for my dad’s publication. This wasn’t the most inspiring work, but I had begun to create images.
Soon after, I took a job with a wedding and portrait photographer as their post production director and assistant on shoots. I marveled as she commanded photo shoots and assumed I could never do the same. Eventually a camera was forced into my hands and I was intoxicated by the power of being behind the lens. People would do what I told them. I taught myself through manuals and books on ways to operate a camera, how to pose people and how to really ’see’ light. From then on, I took every job I could find which turned into a career. My friend and fellow photographer Derek started his own studio and he took me on as a partner. We became one of the most known and respected wedding and portrait studios in town. I worked compulsively for a few years until I had a mini breakdown. From this episode came the intense desire to travel. I immediately got to planning a trip to Thailand and bought a one way ticket. After a year I came back with a drained bank account and started over again in Vegas with the support of family and friends.
My career was constantly disrupted by the desire to travel abroad for long periods at a time. I wandered South East Asia, South America and Europe without any purpose, but it opened my mind to alternative ways to live my life. I made so many friends along the way. I Loved and lost and would rebuilt my client base in Las Vegas over and over. Four years ago I met Jessica at a photography education festival at the community college. She was learning how to do photo transfers on wood and I was assisting the photographer teaching the class. Although she lacked experience and technical proficiency, she was emotionally connected to the pictures she took and taught me do the same. It inspired me to begin photographing for the sake of creation and I began to experiment. I had found a renewed excitement for my chosen craft. By day, I worked for the Las Vegas Raiders, my new client that kept me busy and by night I re-energized by taking my landscape photography education to a new level.
I still have wanderlust. And I want to share my experiences with everyone by taking a piece of my travels and hanging it on their walls. I hope it transports them to someplace new when they’re too busy taking care of others. When they can find time to get away, I hope they'll follow me to someplace they’d never imagined they would go in search of their own images and adventure. A young traveler named Chris McCandless died alone in the wilderness of Alaska. Tragically, it was of his own design. Before he died from eating the wrong berry he wrote in his diary, "happiness is a life shared.” I want to share my gift with as many people who will take the leap.