First off what’s going on with the beard? When did you first start wearing it and how long has it been at its longest? How does your wife feel about it? :D
I have not seen my chin in about 17 years. I just recently shaved off my mustache and it had been that long since I had seen above my lip. It took me about a month to remember how to shave my upper lip since it had been so long since I had done that.
I have a beard because I was always told I had a baby face. I never took that as a compliment so I started growing facial hair. In 1995 I bought an old VW bus and traveled around the country and decided that for the six months I was on the road I wouldn’t trim my goatee. It got pretty long on that trip and I’ve just sort of maintained that ever since. It’s sort of become part of my brand now like Gregory Heisler and his glasses and bow tie, Chase Jarvis and his white tshirts. Etc.
What is a goal that you would like to accomplish in the next five years that you haven’t told anyone about?
I’d love to do an exhibition of street photography. I’ve never had an exhibition of my work before and I think it would be fun to keep shooting street stuff for it.
Speaking of your street photography… what are some lessons that you have learned while doing this?
It’s teaching me to find great light. I’ll see an interesting subject to photograph but if they aren’t in good light then I pass it by. Shooting on the streets keeps all of my senses activated and I’m constantly looking for interesting subject material, good light, and good composition.
Who are some of your biggest influences and why. (Photography or life… your choice)
Photographically I have to say Joe McNally. I love because of his honesty, vulnerability, talent, and humor. He’s kind of a perfect guy through all of his imperfections. Very few photographers can teach and shoot jobs. Both are demanding and he’s able to keep them both going. His workshops are always relevant because he can bring experience in from a job he was just on a few days ago. He’s constantly looking to improve everything he does. He doesn’t stay in a comfort zone so to speak. I’ve had the honor of getting to know him over the past few years and he’s the exact same person in the public as he is behind the scenes. He’s genuine and humble. As soon as I get around a photographer who thinks their God’s gift to the craft (and there are plenty of them) I cringe. I’m so tired of the cult of personality in our industry and those who start drinking their own kool aid. Joe is the exact opposite of those kind of photographers when in reality, if anyone could have ego, it would be him because of his experience but Joe is just Joe. A fantastic guy. End of story.
For life in general it’s my wife Meghan and our four boys. I do all this for them.
What gets you excited about photography each day?
I wish I was excited each day. When it becomes your day job the word “photography” or “photographer” suddenly has a lot more stuff attached to those words. Things like scheduling, book keeping, taxes, overhead, emails, phone calls, etc, etc, etc. I’m shooting more street photography right now to get excited about the “photograph” part of “photography”. It’s photos I take that aren’t related to any of the other stuff that is part of my every day life.
How do you handle the stress of a commercial job? What techniques, tricks or tips do you use to help you be successful?
The better you are at pre-production and pre-visualization the better. The more information you have going in to the job and the more you construct your images in your brain the easier it is once you are there shooting. Pre-production of packing gear, booking locations, etc is the easy part. The pre-visualization just comes from experience. That’s the only way that happens. You have to really know the gear you have and as you walk on to any shoot of any kind your brain is constantly accessing the database of previous shoots. What worked, what didn’t, what your lenses and lights look like in various environments, etc. The hardest part of a commercial job for me is when I’m not finding a connection with my subject. When conversation is stressed or hard to create the resulting photographs suffer. Knowing as much about your subject before meeting them is helpful because it gives you opportunities to ask questions about their lives and find a common ground to communicate from.