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If you have a degree in what field is it? I have a BS in communications with a minor in film from the University of Pittsburgh. I worked at WJAC TV in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, which is the local NBC affiliate, during college; I operated a camera for the nightly news and learned the workings of the control room, audio, commercial dubbing and master switching for live broadcasts. The following year, I moved into the newsroom and was a videographer and editor for the weekend news programs and after that, I spent a year in the Commercial Production department shooting and editing for local advertising. My summers during college were spent working with my director of photography brothers on a number of projects—a few large commercials, an NBC sitcom, some ivy league university recruiting videos, documentaries, infomercials, and even a few Playboy centerfold videos—and my winter weekends were spent working for a portrait photography business at a popular local ski resort. I would suit up in any weather conditions and head out to shoot slalom races and portraits of skiers. Every single endeavor, and my degree, are invaluable and irreplaceable; the knowledge and experiences have lasted a lifetime and continue to be cultivated.

What was your strangest assignment? I have had so many, but the best comes from a documentary on Horseshoe crabs. They are amazing creatures with many valuable medical uses (the powder from their shells can be used as a dressing for burn victims) and on the full and new moons of June each year, the crabs mate. So we filmed the mating of Horseshoe crabs on a sandy beach, during one of the full moons, on a romantic, mosquito-filled, back bay in Cape May, New Jersey. What a sight and a sound. It was a story that my wife Shannon heard the night I first tried to pick her up.

Which photographer would you like to meet? Robert Capa. He is the most mysterious to me. He had a very distinctive air; you could never figure him out but can see he was comfortable in all he did. I love all the images that people have captured of him. I would like to talk to him specifically about D-Day Normandie 1944. I know he had been in war zones before, but had he ever experienced anything like that morning? Was there ever a thought for his own safety when he shot the famous photo of the GI wading to shore with his gun? Did he shoot with the decisive moment always in mind? If he’d had a ten-frame-per-second camera with auto advance and auto everything, how would he have shot it—manual with rapid fire or manual with one frame at a time?

What famous person (living or dead) would you most like to photograph? Winston Churchill. Who would’t want to photograph Churchill? I would also like to do a group photograph of the 25 or so people who made up Mathew Brady’s cameramen of the American Civil War.

Aside from your camera and lighting, what item could you not work without? I could not work without doing personal work, which is ultimately freedom, in all aspects—the freedom to shoot however i can imagine. I also need the sky, even though it’s technically lighting. Whether it’s a crisp, cloudless sky with heavy contrast or a big sky filled with beautiful puffy clouds, I look to it for inspiration and motivation; just give me a polarizer, a couple lenses and put me anywhere in the world.

Is there anything you would not digitally retouch? I like to think of myself as a traditionalist when it comes to printmaking (i.e., film, enlarger, paper and chemicals), however, I haven’t made a traditional print in the darkroom in years. While I admire the standards of National Geographic, and other prized publications, I also know the magic that creative dodging, burning, bleaching, redevelopment and toning and how these elements, when applied skillfully, can greatly change a viewers experience from “that’s a cool shot,” to “wow, look at that image.” Stalin’s darkroom printer was a master printer; he could replace and or remove people with his hands and chemicals as well as any skilled Photoshop master could today. In the end, if the image is to portray truth and the ultimate outcome of the print can influence viewers’ decisions, whether legal, news, photo-journalism, promotion or advertising, then retouching becomes an ethical issue. All photographers know that our vision must ultimately represent the truth as viewed through our eyes. That said, I would retouch anything that I felt would not ethically alter the “truth” about what I saw.

From where do your best ideas originate? When I’m relaxed. Ideas usually come when I’m not thinking about anything in particular. Sometimes the idea isn’t great, but eventually it forms, or a new and improved version replaces it. Sometimes the best ideas come after exhausting all other gameplans, others seemingly come at random and still others are the result of a crazy happenstance thought of “What if...?” at 1:00am. Brainstorming has value and merit, as do flexibility and having several game plans. In general, I try to stay relaxed and open to any idea at any time.

How do you overcome a creative block? Just pick up the camera and find one of my three “kids”: Panzer, our eleven-year-old Springer Spaniel; Normandie, our four-year-old daughter; or Ava, our one-year-old daughter. They generally help me overcome any type of block I may have. They are fresh, new, spontaneous, creative, silly, fun, happy, sad, beautiful, sweet, mean, mad and all the other emotions that make up life and my camera is my method for capturing life at its finest.

Do you have creative pursuits other than photography? I like to play the guitar, but on a business level, I do quite a bit of my work in motion pictures on commercials, corporate, industrial, documentary. The convergence of still and motion pictures from small devices is here and it will positively position visual content providers with additional business outlets to grow their businesses while pushing creative boundaries. So, I guess my creative pursuits are still image and motion picture acquisition, then music.

What music are you listening to right now? Dave Mathews Band “# 41” and Led Zepplin's “The Rain Song.”

What’s your approach to balancing work and life? I’m still working on that, balancing my life and work. Most important though is to capitalize on all the downtime I may have in business and spend it with my family, so when the business comes I can use whatever time it takes to crank it out.

What’s your favorite quote? “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” —John Lennon

Do you have any advice for people just entering the profession? Shoot, shoot, shoot. And... do all sorts of crazy jobs, meet as many people as you can, never say a bad word about anyone, and try to see where you may fit into the large circle of production or still studio, but don’t not try a certain job because you don’t think that is a direction you want to go. Deannana Delbridge did a seminar at Photo Expo one year and handed out these pins/buttons that said “PLAY”; essentially, her message was just pick up the instrument of your choice and start playing. Everyday. With some practice, you’ll be quite surprised at the results.

What’s one thing you wish you knew when you started your career? To just go for it. If you want to shoot film, then go to the big film school, get the AFI or NYU degree and have a great reel and meet many of the people that you will spend your career working beside. If you want to shoot stills, again, go to the best schools, where you’ll meet many of your future colleagues, and come out with a solid book of high-quality images that show your style.

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