I'm a life-long surfer and outdoor enthusiast from Orange County, and am most at home in and around the ocean. After having to give up surfing for a few years during college due to knee injuries, I picked up a camera and began documenting the waves that I was missing out on. It didn't take long before I no longer felt that I was missing out at all, but instead was more tuned in than ever. I was paying closer attention to the conditions on the ocean...wind, swell direction, tide, and of course the most important factor in photography: light.
Since then, my photographic interests have broadened, and I have really come to enjoy landscape photography, as well as lifestyle and abstracts. My passion for photography has kept me outdoors, traveling, and meeting interesting and like-minded people who share a love for Mother Nature.
1. What is it about your photography that you strive to make special and unique?
I strive to create images that embody the feelings of a moment or place. I look for angles that aren't immediately obvious to show things in a different perspective, and to help others see familiar places or subjects in a new way. Constantly, I am amazed by the array of colors that are available naturally, in the world around us. I try to showcase this very special color palette with my photography.
2. What makes you passionate about photography?
Lust for life. Photography has made me see the world around me in new ways. Whether it's the abstract forms of water in a breaking wave, the rhythmic patterns of wind-blown sand, or the mesmerizing beauty in ever-changing cloudscapes, photography has helped awaken me to nature's subtleties. Things that most people never see, even if it's right in front of their eyes, are some of the things I have come to appreciate most in life. One of the greatest pleasures I have in photography is sharing these amazing moments in and around the ocean with others...people who have an appreciation for Mother Nature, but don't experience these things as intimately as they would like.
3. Who and/or what has influenced your photography and why?
When my father passed away a couple years ago, somewhat unexpectedly and far too young, it made me realize that life is short and tomorrow may never come. It then became very clear to me that I should be doing what I love, and not just working to pay the bills. At that point I made a very conscious choice to pursue photography as a career, and to leave cubicle life behind. I have only one life to live, and have begun to realize the importance of making every day count. This has been the greatest driving factor and inspiration for my photography.
In terms of surf photographers, Flame has been quite influential, indirectly. While I never actually met him, and didn't pick up a camera until after his passing, the photographers that he mentored are now the ones that are helping and influencing me...guys like Russ Hennings, Pat Stacy, and Pete Taras. Also, seeing the success of Chris Burkard since the inaugural Follow the Light Grant has been a huge source of inspiration for me, especially so because I have a great affinity for landscape photography, and the combination of surf and landscape.
Although I certainly haven't become successful yet in my own photography career, I do have more experience than many of the newer up-and-comers in my area. Some of them are coming to me for advice now, and I am enjoying guiding them a bit and sharing my experiences. Surf photographers can be quite selfish, and it's not always easy for those just starting out to find the encouragement they need to flourish. So I've taken a page out of Flame's book and I try to help when the groms come to me for advice.
4. What dreams or aspirations do you have for your photography?
I want to push the boundaries of my creativity, and make a living creating images that inspire people. Whether for editorial, advertising, or whatever, I want to make photos that tell a story and transport the viewer into another place or frame of mind. I want to inspire people to do something...to travel, to embrace other cultures, to preserve our oceans and natural resources, to help others, to experience life, or simply go surfing. I'm looking to create images that make people feel something. Anything.
5. If you were the recipient of the grant, how would you use the money to further your photography career aspirations?
Since I didn't pick up a camera until after college, after a few years into a would-be career path, and meeting my wife, I haven't had the means to do much surf photography travel. So I would use the grant money to fund a couple of much needed photo trips. I want to beef up my portfolio with some fresh images from abroad. I'm looking to get more photos run in magazines, but there's only so many shots from my own backyard that editors want to look at. I have no doubt that if I could pull together a solid trip or two, that I would come away with some great images, and start the ball rolling towards more editorial work.
6. Where do you see your career in 5 years?
In 5 years, I see myself working as a staff photographer for an action sports company, showing my surf and scenic ocean imagery at galleries in California and beyond, and continuing to work with the up-and-comers. I also see myself working on photo projects geared toward promoting conservation and preservation of our beaches, oceans, and natural resources.