I found my way into being a photojournalist in the Navy, but I never had any interest in photography.
Everything changed for me when a tearful mom unfolded an old newspaper and said she wanted to get a better copy.
The reason for the request? Her 10-year-old son had recently passed away after a long battle with leukemia and the image on the front page of the paper was him, bald from rounds of chemo, with a bird on his head and smile that would melt your heart. That was the last picture taken of him smiling … looking carefree like any other young boy.
They wanted the new copy to frame and place in his little brother’s bedroom so he’d always remember his big brother being happy and smiling down on him.
What changed my life from this experience was that was my image. An image from my very first newspaper assignment. I remember taking it and felt the whole assignment was taking away from my dream of being a DJ.
Two things passed through my mind when this happened:
I found my life’s calling
The power of photography and that tangible element is real and is meaningful. It’s the visual documentation that provides proof we were here. We experience life, love, receive love, accomplish great feats, endure, and are a part of history within our family and communities.
After that experience, I immersed myself in photojournalism. I studied, job shadowed, worked my butt off telling the stories of people who I was lucky enough to get an inside look of their lives.
I’ve focused the photojournalism experience from all the assignments I’ve covered into telling stories of the people who won’t have their images highlighted inside a newspaper or magazine.
This is why I do what I do. It’s also why my home has images hanging from every wall to highlight who my daughters were growing up, and who they are now. I want to always remember the 20th anniversary trip with my wife, and see myself and my girls acting goofy together. These moments are fleeting and the memories quickly fade without the images to remind us.
Through portraits and weddings, I’ve devoted a big part of my life to telling stories with my images. And I take that responsibility very seriously. Because I want you to have that tangible element that will tell your story to your children, and grandchildren, and their children. I want a family member to walk down a hallway decades from now and point to a picture and ask about that moment captured in time.