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I am not formally schooled in photography or any other form of artistic expression. I started messing around with photoshop around ten years ago because I was fascinated by the possibilities of altering images. I had a small Nikon coolpix camera that I used to snap pictures of my son Gage. I turned that baby to âautoâ and went to town. I had absolutely no clue about aperture or shutterspeed or composition or lighting, and i didnât really care. I just wanted pictures of Gage that I could load into photoshop to play with. I read dozens of books and worked my way through hundreds of tutorials to learn the ins and outs of photoshop. It wasnât long before I realized that if I really wanted to get the images I wanted out of photoshop I would have to learn to take much better pictures. All I knew at that point was that I needed more resolution in the pictures and that I would probably have to figure out how to stop letting the camera decide what settings would be best, i.e. turn off the âautoâ. I bought a Nikon D40 and proceeded to turn all my attention from learning more about photoshop to learning everything I could about the mechanics of photography. Like any good addict I became completely obsessed. (more about that later). Up until the last couple of years I was completely self taught. Through lots of books and magazines, trial and error and countless lost pictures to exposure problems, photography was starting to make sense to me. Fast forward a bit to today, I have upgraded from a $50 point and shoot camera to a Nikon D300s, lots of lenses and enough strobe-lights to illuminate the entire cul de sac that I live on. I have many friends that also regard photography as their passion and I have learned a great deal from them all at a much faster pace than I ever could have on my own. Here are a just a few that I have worked with the most.
Tim Rogan: Awesome photog and all around great guy. Tim is very precise and methodical. He seems to get an idea in his head of the image he wants to capture and itâs a guarantee that before he finishes that image will be on his camera. He studies and follows the photography industry like nobodyâs business and is always one of the first people I will call for advice. Here are some of his images. http://www.flickr.com/photos/24296518@N04/
Steven Skelton: One of the first photographers I met in Athens. Steven leads the Athens area strobists meet and is a fantastic photographer. Steven is probably the most technically proficient photog that I know. Iâm not even sure that he knows that some cameras have an âAâ as a choice. Take a look at his website when you get a chance. http://ssp-studios.com/index2.php#/home/
Grant Beecher: I always look forward to what Grant will put out next. Grant is wonderfully creative with his compositions and backgrounds. I canât say enough about his pictures, you will just have to check them out for yourself. http://www.grantbeecherphoto.com/
Kate Hansel: There is one thing that always comes to my mind when I think about Kate's images. She has an uncanny ability to find that one detail in the environment that she is shooting that will completely capture the mood and feeling perfectly. Kate and I could be shooting the exact same event, I might produce a few dozen pictures that I believe highlight the event nicely and then I see the one picture that Kate posts and I am left to think to myself hmmmmm, yep, that's what I was trying to say.
Wesley Abney: Wesley uses color, selective focus, and subject distance beautifully. You would be hard pressed to find him without his camera and it pays off with some of the images I have seen him capture. Not only great with portraits but he is also truly able to give a random, inanimate object life. http://www.flickr.com/photos/wesleysabney/
Somehow I will keep this related to photography as best I can. As I mentioned before I did not go to school for photography, I went to the University of South Florida and majored in Finance and Communications with dreams of being a trader on the New York Stock Exchange Floor. Luckily for me that never happened. After school I ran Archie Manningâs (Peytonâs dad) Goldâs Gym in New Orleans for about a year until it was sold. From there I started my career with General Electric. I moved up through the corporate structure very quickly, becoming a roving system designer for them after they sent me back for my Masterâs of computer technology at DePaul. Insert another fast forward here. After moving around quite a bit with GE I ended up in Chattanooga, TN where I started a waterski/wakeboarding school called WakeUp Boarding School. The primary reason for starting that school was to spend as much time with my son, Gage, as possible. Together and with some help from a few other wakeboarding friends we taught hundreds of kids and adults how to wakeboard, wakeskate, and sky-ski. We ran that school for about 5 years and I wouldnât take back a single day. About one year into the wakeboarding school I realized I wasnât going to be able to make a living with it so I set about creating a business that had a specific set of goals. First, it would be financially rewarding. Second, it would eventually run itself allowing me the free time I desired to pursue the things I love. Oddly enough, that plan worked perfectly. I am now in my seventh year with this business. We are one of those newfangled âgreenâ businesses. I have a half-dozen guys that roam all over TN, AL, GA, FL and Texas servicing approximately 1500 banks. They clean up the exterior of those banks and drive thru lanes with environmentally safe chemicals. I no longer do any of the service work myself, instead I pretty much make sure that my guys get the work done and then I invoice my clients. Gotta love it when things work out like you wanted them to!
How does all of this relate to photography like I promised it would? Well, today I have the financial freedom and the freedom from a âjobâ to practice my craft. I spend my time reading about photography, practicing new lighting techniques, planning concept shoots, working with models and other photographers, and I still am just as excited about the possibilities that photoshop holds for altering images as I ever was. I have the luxury of not having to make a living with photography. So without trying to sound overly harsh, I donât have to shoot anything that I donât want to or that I donât feel excited about. I love photography and I am extremely passionate about it, but if I had to do the photogs version of gruntwork all day long to put food on my table, my passion would soon turn sour. I consider myself very lucky to have this luxury and the clients that I do work with will know without a doubt that I am thrilled and excited about capturing their images and Iâm not just doing it to make a buck.
I considered not putting this in here but it is who I am and I am not ashamed of it. I am a recovering addict/alcoholic from way back. My struggles with addiction have cost me plenty along the way. Problems with relationships, with money, with trust, with the law, and with my own self worth to name just a few. While I am not ashamed of being who I am I do regret many of the things I have done and the people I have hurt because of it. That being said: If misery truly does inspire I am set for life..