This is my fourth time submitting to the Follow the Light Foundation grant; I was chosen as a finalist in 2008. I am born and breed from Santa Cruz, CA and have had good opportunities to travel the last few years. I bought my first camera when I enrolled in a photography class at Cabrillo College in 2003. I focused mainly on landscapes for the first couple years and it wasn’t until an injury that sidelined me from bodyboarding that I took an interest in shooting the surf more. Now I highly enjoy shooting from the water in shallow barreling conditions. By the time the awards show takes place at the end of July I will have just turned 30. In addition to shooting as often as the waves are good I work as a waiter part time through the winter and full time in the summer to supplement my travel and photo addictions.
As often as possible I strive to translate a sense of environment within a photograph, to be able to convey an entire scene to whomever may view the image regardless of whether the location or persons are known or unknown. Sometimes this comes at the cost of swimming long hours only to capture one good photograph. But when that image creates recognition with a fellow surfer or a feeling of inclusion with someone not ocean savvy then I have a complete image. A strong composition combined with pivotal moments and dramatic lighting may not be uniquely special but they are always the qualities I try to incorporate into my images. Those are the photographs I strive to produce to engage the viewer.
Having the privilege to grow up on the coast of California has allowed me to be involved with the ocean and nature for as long as I can remember. Long before I owned a camera I appreciated my surroundings and it was only natural when I finally did begin taking photographs that I take them of the gorgeous scenery around me. I am most passionate about travel and absorbing all the new waves, culture and landscapes while bringing along my camera to document those memories.
Watching the evolution of photography, specifically surf photography has been an ever-growing influence on me. There are so many talented surfers defying what was previously thought impossible on a wave and when you combine that with the great lensmen out there, the last few years have been the most evolutionary to date. It has motivated me to new levels as well as been a pleasure to see. I am driven by watching my own photography evolve, understanding light and timing and applying that to whatever canvas in front of me.
Over the years my ideas and aspirations with photography have only slightly changed as my career has progressed. Nothing is more gratifying then making then right connections and receiving positive feedback. From the first couple web posts, to small print images, to spreads, I have passed many personal goals in the past. My current goal is to make further connections within the industry and applying for this grant is a step in the right direction. I look forward to future trips and networking with the growing talent of surfers from my region as well as worldwide.
We all know how quick five thousand dollars can disappear with travel, equipment and education. I mean five thousand dollars won’t even afford a top of the line camera body, but it would be a healthy chuck. Although I won’t buy a camera that costly, it is appealing. I’ve done well enough to this point and I feel that I would be better served and more of a well-rounded photographer taking a few more workshops on the ever-evolving art of photography. I have been working on my weaknesses as much as I can but more ‘proper’ education never hurts.
I feel like this question is more complex for me to answer then in past years. The more I travel the more appreciation I’ve come to have for other culture and styles of living. California will always be home but the thought of pursuing photography in another country working for a magazine or company in the industry is more appealing then ever. Whatever country I decide, if I feel that is the right decision for me, you can rest assured I would come back each year to help the voting process and admire the continual growing level of surfing photography.
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