What kind of work do you do?
I would classify myself as a portrait and lifestyle photographer. I really love interacting with people and capturing their spirit in a photograph. Most of my video work consists of musician work, but I am open to expand. If you have an idea that you think I could help you bring to life, please reach out to me. I love a challenge.
How did you become a photographer/Videographer?
Well, that's kind of a funny story. It was a complete whim. My freshman year of college, I saw photos of a girl who had a camera, thought she looked cool, and took every bit of my high school graduation money to Best Buy and bought a Canon Rebel t3i. Best completely irrational and ill-founded decision I have ever made. My family thought I was crazy. I knew I was being irresponsible, but I just had to try it. Luckily, it seems to have worked out. Photography is one of the few things I never get tired of. It's also the thing that helps me communicate best to the world around me. My camera is like another limb to me. You will probably hardly ever see me without it, and if I don't have it, I will probably seem a little distraught.
As far as videography goes, a friend reached out to me last summer and asked if I was interested in helping his band do a live sound music video. I told him I had never used the video settings on my camera, but that I was up to the challenge. I fell in love immediately. Videography has added an entire new dimension to my love of being behind the camera.
Was there a moment when you realized you wanted to do photography for the rest of your life?
Yes :) My hometown was struck by a large tornado on February 10, 2013 that left a good part of the city unrecognizable from damage. About a week or so after the storm, my church was part of a cleanup day in the downtown area. I had been photographing as much of the city as possible following the storm, so naturally, I brought my camera to the cleanup day. My friend Brittany and I came upon a house that had been completely destroyed, and there was a woman sitting in a chair looking at a pile of rubble that she once called home. I put my camera to the side for a moment, because I wasn't sure how she would respond to it and wanted to respect her privacy. As Brittany and I began talking to this woman, she began opening up and told us most of her life story in a nutshell. It was awesome. I looked down and saw a framed photograph on the ground next to her chair and asked her who the people were in the photograph. It was a portrait of her, her husband and their two daughters taken while her daughters were still in school. It was the only photograph this woman had that had survived the storm. I glanced over at Brittany, and she could tell by the look in my eyes that I wanted to make a portrait of this woman holding her family's portrait. I went for it. I asked the woman if I could make a photograph of her, and to my surprise, she didn't say anything at first. I thought I had offended her and was ready to get yelled at for being insensitive to her circumstances. But then, she began to get a little emotional. I felt even worse. I remember feeling like an hour had gone by with this woman before me, silent (it was probably only 30 seconds or so in reality). As she began to speak, I was shocked. She said yes. Then she told me that no one had ever asked her if they could take a picture of her. Needless to say, as soon as I was finished making her portrait and had walked away, I just about lost it. I remember telling Brittany, "I want to be photographer." I will never forget that moment. That one moment has shaped my entire philosophy of why I want to make pictures. I want to show people that they matter. I want to show people that they are significant and beautiful beings. I want people to feel appreciated and valued, and that moment showed me the power of one photograph. One photograph can make an incredible impact.
What drives you to do what you do?
People. I love my job because of the people I meet. I get to interact and document some of the most intimate sides of a person or event. I have the opportunity to tell a person's story with my lens. Capturing the emotion behind the face of a person is my goal as a photographer. I don't want people to see me when they look at my photographs, I want them to see the person in the photograph. I want my photos to tell an outsider a story about the person in the frame.
Where do you draw creativity from/How do you work?
I feed off the people around me when it comes to creativity. Being around passionate people who love whatever they are doing, ignites my creativity. I love to hear about what others care about and translate that to a photograph. I think in pictures often before I think in words. When it comes to portraits, I try to find out as much about my subject as I can, and translate that knowledge to a photograph.
What is your favorite thing to photograph/Video?
Musicians. Hands down. Whether at a concert or a portrait session, I love working with musicians. I love hearing songs and creating the visual to bring the song to life. I love to work with artists for album promotional and portrait sessions. I love photographing concerts as well because I believe concert photos allow the audience to relive the show over and over again after the experience has passed.
What are you most thankful for?
My family and friends (they're basically family too) and my health.
My mom is seriously the most supportive, incredible human being on this planet, and she inspires me to be better everyday through her encouragement and through leading by example. I have great friends who allow me to photograph and document basically their every move. I have been blessed by a support system that understands the way I think, and allows me to be creative. (i.e. allowing me to throw paint at you during a portrait session) Most of my friends understand that part of being friends with me means you are going to have your picture made, and they understand that allowing me to make pictures of them is the kindest gift a person can give me. Making photographs of the people I love the most means the world to me.
As for the health part, when I sit back and think through the things my body has gone through, I become more and more amazed that I am able walk/breathe/run/do normal things. I have had many serious sports injuries and put my body through a lot of abuse through anorexia in high school. I believe in miracles. I believe that the fact that I am alive and completely healthy today is a miracle that only God could do. Plus, he gave me awesome people to walk with me through each of those seasons. (I talked about them above) :)
What are your thoughts on Photoshop/Retouching etc.?
I get asked quite often if I "can make wrinkles go away" or "make a person look skinnier." To answer that question honestly, yes, I can. But I must follow up that answer with, no, I won't. I am capable of doing that, but because of my own struggles with self-esteem, I do not airbrush or thin out my subjects in Photoshop or other post processing tools.