Duration: Four years.
Education: BFA in graphic design and photography from Savannah College of Art and Design.
Location: Oceanside, California.
Career path: I was born in the Appalachian mountains of West Virginia, then raised in California, Texas, Ohio and North Carolina. The beaches of Florida were my home during high school, Georgia was where I went to college, then California called me back again. Living in a bunch of different places with various cultural, geographic and personal palates inspired my sense of self-exploration, expression and art. While I was studying graphic design in college, I took an introductory photography class by chance. Shortly after, I decided to double major in graphic design and photography. Stints as an art director at top ad agencies on the East and West Coasts of the United States followed for the next 20 years. I then decided to do things “my way” and began freelancing as an art director full-time; four years ago, I jumped the fence from art directing photo shoots to shooting as a photographer.
Cultural influences: The ocean and outdoors are the most dominant natural forces in my life. Skiing, surfing and photography provide a visceral means of communication with these unpredictable elements. Because of their power and energy, they can simultaneously inspire the entire emotional range in one moment and require the viewer’s full attention. It is this energy and human connection to the environment that I try to capture. If you do it right, you can tell a timeless story in an instant, document, express, and change the way we see the past and shape the future.
Artistically, the following artists have influenced me: The architect Mies van der Rohe, for his less-is-more approach. Edward Hopper, for his realism and simplicity. Edward Weston and Ansel Adams for their surreal landscapes. Designer David Carson, for his unique vision and his never-ending quest to break the rules of the game. And finally, the photographer and artist Peter Beard, for his unique collage-like photograph, diary and drawing collection.
Favorite project: I recently completed a project for the tourism nonprofit organization Visit California, which took me more than 12,000 miles across the eight rural regions of California from the coastal redwoods to inland deserts to pristine lakes to snow-capped mountains. I’m still editing the photos from this project, with the idea to turn this series into a book. There’s a long list of places I want to go back to and spend more time exploring.
Work environment: My work environment is the environment, and it’s always evolving. I do my best to research and plan projects, but I also like to leave things open for moments of magic discovery. The people—talent, crew members and clients—are the other x-factor. My experience in art direction helps a great deal in managing the people and process. And then, of course, there’s the editing back at the studio. That’s my alone time to take my work to the next level, which sometimes even surprises me.
Aspirations: My driving force and motto is “dream big.” It’s hard to believe where I am today, and I can’t imagine where I will be in five to ten years. An easy answer would be to say I want bigger budgets and to travel to distant locations for amazing brands like Nike, REI or Land Rover, but that’s never really been my goal. It’s always been to refine my craft and create better images today than I did yesterday. In five to ten years, I’ll be in my happy place, doing more amazing things and collaborating with and inspiring people.