What lies ahead…

15 11 2013

Road(This post was originally written at the end of October and is just now being posted)

Life is full of transitions, they seem to come at us from all directions. As unavoidable as they are, we never seem to get used to them. It is as if we are driving on a road and there is a hill that prevents us from seeing what is ahead. My wife and I have been wondering what was just out of view for several years, but now are at the top of the hill, seeing what is there beyond and making the preparations to move forward.

I’m not much of an emotional person, so I find transitions interesting. Many times I process things by focusing on the adventure; other times just quietly reflecting on the changes.

As I’m writing this, I’m sitting on a pier, fishing. It’s 2am and today was my last day of work. My wife and I find ourselves in the middle of one of the biggest transitions of our lives. Two years ago we began on a path that is now coming to fruition. We are moving back overseas to work in international photojournalism.

We have loved our time in North Carolina. We have made friends here that will always be apart of our lives, but we knew from the beginning that this was not a permanent home. We are now seeing the end of this chapter.

As I mentioned, today was my last day of work as we are transitioning away from this area and I have to admit, it feels kinda weird. It feels weird to think that Monday morning I won’t have to get up and go to work, rather I will have to begin boxing up everything I own in preparation for moving. Boxing up your life is difficult. Memories are hard to pack. That is why I’m sitting on a pier in the middle if the night with this group of guys, one last opportunity to spend with them making memories. Despite having a fishing pole and a line in the water, I’m not here to fish, I’m here to talk and be with friends.

God has allowed us to be a part of a great church here and this group of guys has meant so much to me over the last few years and I can’t think of a better place to be right now.

Getting back out there

22 07 2013

Moscow State UniversityCreativity is both natural and honed as it ebbs and flows with our daily lives.

I have spent the last 3 years of my life working on a master’s degree which has pulled most of my time (and almost all of my mental faculties) away from photography and creative media. To say that this has been a challenge is an understatement at best. Many times I have said to my wife, “I hate that the one thing I want to do most (photography) is the one thing I can’t do at all.” It is difficult to be pulled in directions that take you away from your passions, very difficult.

To make things worse, because creativity is one of those things that must be honed, the less you are doing something with it, the harder it seems to just do it. I have seen this in my life when I’ll be given the opportunity to do something with photography or design and end up simply sitting on it for a long time–simply because I don’t know how to even get started.

I look back over projects I’ve worked on in the past and wonder how I was able to accomplish those things. Further, I’m sitting on the cusp of moving back overseas and delving back into a full time creative media role.

It is at these times that I remind myself that I can hone back in the skills I have set aside over the past years. I can pick up my camera, challenge myself with projects, learn new techniques, remember old ones. Retrain my eyes to see the world around me, start writing and story telling again. There is so much opportunity ahead and I am excited to be getting back out there.

These are the moments when I realize the opportunities all around me. There is a whole world out there.

We cannot always be dreaming of what we’d like to do only to convince ourselves that we’ll never accomplish it. Rather, we must get out and do it…


30 03 2012


I find that airports are gateways to adventure. I love to travel, this is good given my career path.

I have been pretty lo-key over the past two years as I am working on my Masters degree but every once in a while I get to sneak some travel.

I am currently on my way, with a group of 17 other like minded friends, to Kiev, Ukraine. We will be spending about 10 days meeting new friends, sharing with them some of the things I am passionate about, and ultimately, being a light to a world of darkness.

I am super excited about this adventure and can’t wait to see what is in store.

120 to 1: the evolution

16 08 2011

Richland Creek Community ChurchWith the advent of digital photography, the argument has often come up that a person tends to put less work into a single image because there is no relative cost factor every time you press the shutter. Maybe, but I would like to argue the other aspect of it and say that the advent of digital photography has allowed the craft to reach new levels of quality and creativity.

I recently was asked to take a few shots of a church building for a design piece. I needed only a handful of shots, they needed only one. I got up early to get the morning sunrise coming across the building. In the course of roughly 30-40 min I snapped off about 120 shots of the building. It may seem a bit excessive, but for me it was a constantly changing scene, and I was constantly seeing something different between where I was standing and where the light was shining. Because I was working with natural light I had an ever changing scene.

What did I get with my 120 images? Yes, a lot of work to dig through in post, but the reality was that I didn’t have to do that much, I either liked the shot or I didn’t. But what I noticed was that as the light changed and as I hit different angles and locations on the building, I liked my shots more. The first several shots I took weren’t that great, the lighting was a bit too muted and the building just didn’t pop like I needed it too. As the shots rolled on, I started to realize the angles I wanted, I got the light where I wanted it, and all things came together.

If I were shooting film and had 24 frames to shoot, it would have been much more difficult. I would not have realized I didn’t like the play between my angles and the light. I would have fired off my 24 or 48 frames, packed up and gone home. With digital, I can rattle off the shots and figure out what I need to do to get the shot I really want.

The argument always seems to go to someplace like Ansel Adams and the amazing things he did with film, but I would argue that the creativity of photography has come a long way since Adams was amazing the world. Please understand, I’m a fan of film work. I have two film cameras, one medium format and one 35mm. There is a certain aspect to film that isn’t the same as digital. I love the natural grain and imperfections of film, but digital photography has made the world of photography a better place and brought creativity to a whole new level, and I am excited to see where we will continue to progress.

The (Travel) Bug

21 06 2011

Moscow State UniversityI’m sick, I might even have a disease. The symptoms? If I stay in one place for too long I am prone to want to go on an adventure to some far off land. It really is bad. I mean I have heard people talk about wanderlust but really, this is serious.

The problem is, my wife and I have been living in the same small town in North Carolina for about a year and a half now and I’m craving adventure. We are here because I’m working on my masters degree, with the goal of moving back overseas (we both lived overseas for a bit of time a few years ago). In the time we have been living here we have gotten to do a little bit of traveling and have even had the opportunity to go on a photojournalism trip to the Czech Republic and Hungary. But despite what it sounds like, I think the urge for adventure hits me about every three months.

I’m coming up on my three month mark. I find myself looking at travel photojournalism websites, reading the blogs of photojournalists, and dreaming about being somewhere else. I don’t really understand all of this, I’m wired a bit differently (my wife can attest to that). I don’t know what to do with this urge except go with it!

This weekend we are taking a trip up to West Virginia to visit family and attend a family reunion. I guess this is going to have suffice to the bug for now. It is a road trip and since we don’t have any other trips planned till November, well I’ll take what I can get.

Life always seems interesting, the kind of interesting that is good, but leaves you looking forward and wondering what will tomorrow bring. When I lived in Russia and was traveling around the country to photograph different people groups, or just photographing around Moscow, I wondered what life would be like after I moved back to the United States, but now, I find myself daydreaming of life back overseas. What will it be like? Where will we live? What will the art culture be like there?

I love to learn about how different cultures interact with art. All embrace it in some fashion or another, but what are the intricacies of how they do it? That is what my travel bug is all about, capturing the way that a culture views and embraces art.

Cultivating a work culture

7 06 2011

ceo portraitHave you ever woken up in the morning and thought, “I really don’t want to go to work today”? Who hasn’t, I mean really. It is such a common statement, but what if it didn’t have to be that way?

Recently I had the opportunity to shoot for the CEO of a company being profiled in a national publication. As I talked with him about the company, he explained that their top priority is to create a work culture that is focused on family and on people wanting to come to work. He explained how this is a non-negotiable,

“we are trying to create a work culture where the day that you retire you can look back and say your life was better off because they were a part of [the] family.”

This got me thinking, what would it be like to work for that kind of person?

As I sat in his office, going over the publication’s image brief, I realized that he was calling different stores in his company talking with the managers, encouraging them and listening to them as they shared about what is going on in their stores. He was involved and caring. It took me back, listening to how he was intentional with his employees. I couldn’t help but think of employers I have worked for who were far different from this.

Many times, employers seem to approach work from the view of tough love. There is little encouragement and most of the time the only communication you receive is about something you have done wrong. But listening to this man talk to his employees made me realize that it doesn’t have to be that way. Going back to his statement about their work culture, I can see how this is a tangible reality in this company. They not only speak these words, but they make them happen.

“What if…” is a powerful statement. What if we changed our environment to be encouraging while challenging? What if we lifted each other up, challenging each other to higher things? What if we put ourselves in the background and others in the foreground?

What if…

The Human Element

28 05 2011

strawberry fieldWhat makes a good snapshot? Is it the candid nature of it? Is it the unplanned capturing of a moment in time that nobody else will be able to capture again? Or is it simply capturing a slice of life to have forever frozen on a digital canvas? I have been thinking through this a lot lately as I have been working on developing this in my own photography.

You may already know, but Chase Jarvis is currently curating a gallery at the Ace Hotel in NYC called Dasein-An invitation to Hang. The beauty of this is that it’s a gallery celebrating the snapshot and the photos are not just his, but are his mixed with ones from photographers around the world. Anyone is able and encouraged to contribute to this project.

As I have been challenging myself in this to create captivating snapshots, it has forced me to think about the elements that go into such a photograph. As much as I hate arguing about semantics, I do feel there is a difference between a snapshot and a composed photograph. A composed photograph (not talking about composition of a photograph) is a shot where you have an idea in mind that you would like to capture, you set out with that vision and you aim to capture it. A snapshot is where you may or may not have an idea, and you capture the things taking place in front of you. They may be seemingly random, or they may have a theme. You could take 20 pictures and possibly have nothing in common between each of them.

So as I have been working on getting snapshots, I have enjoyed the creative challenge. I have been forced to look at the world around me not for the familiar, but for the things that I have been staring at and missing. I have been forced to really think about what I am putting into the frame as I am pressing the shutter. One of those elements is the human element.

This is a topic that receives much discussion, and for a good reason. I find that pictures with a human element have a different feel and connectivity than those without. I think that when we see a person in the photograph, we have the opportunity to connect in one way or another with that picture. The picture has a tangible element because we can feel, in some ways, the emotions of the subject. What are they doing? What emotions are they experiencing? What story are they telling? Capturing the human element allows for the photographer to capture a piece of who we all are in a frame to later connect with others who were not there to experience the moment.

What makes a good snapshot? Anything really, but I know for me, I am working hard to create pictures that connect with others, tell a story, and evoke a response of sorts, and as I work toward this the human element is a crucial aspect of my photography.


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