Duration: Three years.
Location: Los Angeles, CA.
Education: Hallmark Institute of Photography, Montague, Massachusetts.
Career path: I came into photography in college. At first, I was a graphic design major, but when I enrolled in a 35mm black-and-white film class, I fell in love with the creative process of telling stories through photos and pursued photography instead. I soon discovered the Hallmark Institute of Photography, a now-closed photography school that offered a ten-month program that would take the same number of hours to complete as a bachelor’s degree. There, I built the strong technical foundation I needed to move forward in the industry. After graduating with honors, I moved to Boston and began working part-time at the rental department of the camera shop EP Levine. Working there gave me access to professional photographers across the country, and I learned what it would take to build my own career. Working as a photo assistant also taught me invaluable lessons on how to run a business and obtain and manage clients.
Cultural influences: I took to skateboarding and punk rock as a teenager because they were loud, fast and aggressive. They were also outlets for some of the frustrations I felt about growing up in the Midwest. Believe it or not, skateboarding was my first introduction to something creative. Every skateboarder sees different lines through the streets and favors different tricks, imposing her or his will on a skateboard. When I’m creating photos, I chase the same exhilaration that I feel when I’m skateboarding. I strongly identify with skate culture and that adventurous spirit comes through in my photography.
Favorite projects: My personal project with Paralympic athletes and adaptive sports. The athletes I have photographed have such inspirational stories, and I feel honored to be able to use my photography to help them share their stories. Thinking about the obstacles they overcome constantly reminds me of the power of the will to persevere. I would love to put together a book of these images and donate the proceeds to organizations that are helping Paralympic athletes.
Work environment: The world we live in, from the mountaintops to the depths of the ocean to inner cities to the desolate corners of the earth. There are no boundaries to where a camera can take you. Photography is an invitation into someone’s world. People tend to open up to you when you have a camera, and the glimpses you get into people’s lives foster even more curiosity.
Approach: I strive to create an environment on set that is both relaxed and fun, yet professional. Every time I step into a photo shoot, I am excited about the challenges of the unknown. People have amazing stories of accomplishments and tragedies, and I love learning what others are passionate about.
Aspirations: To fuse photography with other passions, like skateboarding and surfing. Shooting ad campaigns for companies like REI, Patagonia and Vans would be a dream. I also would love to convert an old farmhouse in New England into a working studio space.
Philosophy: Don’t take yourself too seriously. We are in the industry of creating inspiring moments. As creatives, we are lucky enough to work with beautifully spirited people. Work should be a fun, positive environment where your creativity can run wild.