Self-portrait with F5
My first job out of college — in the autumn of 1985 — was with a small, business-to-business advertising agency in Louisville, Kentucky. In a small firm, everyone is “hands-on” and that means everyone does a bit of everything: research, strategy, coffee-making, layout, copywriting, design, face-to-face client contact — and the best thing: photo direction.
It was a great introduction to a very diverse career that has had me creating advertising and sales materials for consumer products ranging from detergent to kitty litter, all the way to high-science work for medicines that help treat cancer.
But I was never, ever more excited to get to work than on those days when I was to attend — and later direct — photo shoots. Everything about them was magical to me.
“I remember the first canister of 35mm film I ever opened. I remember the first time I carefully cut a sleeve of 4 x 5 view camera film. Same sensation:
I thought it smelled like perfume…”
Illustration and painting comprised the bulk of my formal training, but I always had a techie-geeky side, so when I first discovered an 80’s-era 35mm Pentax film camera, I was dumbstruck in love: here was a way to get the powerful effects of visual storytelling combined with as much precision — or lack of it — as you wanted.
The work that moves me and that animates the camera in my hand is that which gets to the crux of what it means to be human: our collective struggle for identity, understanding, integration, and peace.
The work I’m most proud of are in-series efforts that are dedicated to one subject or one contiguous story. These stories look at how cultures consider their own identity, how we integrate — or consider ourselves separate — from our environment, and other introspective and collective experiences.
The camera — especially one loaded with film rather than an SD card — encourages a longer, considered look at nearly every situation. The camera literally changes the way I see, and motivates me to share certain aspects of my perceptions with more intensity. It is my hope that the images help you with your own introspection. If they encourage you to spend a little more considering your life and your place in the world, then what I’ve shared has been worthwhile.