My first camera was a Pentax K1000. I bought it when I was a senior in high school. Photography was love at first sight. I learned to process film in a friend's garage at night with sheets over the windows. It's a cliche, I know... but times have changed. Since then, I have rarely been without some sort of image making tool by my side.
My undergraduate education began at Maine College of Art and after two years, I transferred to Rochester Institute of Technology having committed to making photography my profession. From there, I met Mary Ellen Mark when she visited RIT and I followed her to NYC making her studio on Greene St. my first assisting job.
As a photo-assistant, I learned more practical skills than I ever did in classes; no discredit to the faculty at RIT by any means. There is just no substitute for immersion, performing under pressure, and holding esteem for those photographers I worked for because it was their work I so much wished to emulate.
This is my big chance to drop some names... Henry Leutwyler, Albert Watson, Robert Tardio, Martin Mistretta. New York is the place where a photographer can reach out and touch their heroes. And of course, sometimes the big lesson was keep your mouth shut and make the espresso!
I still love the chance to assist, but I've gained enough experience to be comfortable shooting just about any genre of photography. I concentrate on the portrait and from there, it's easy to go down many paths. After all, people are the connection to any topic, industry, or product. A chef, to his cuisine; a politician, her hot button topics to be illustrated. Likewise, a path from any topic can be found to lead directly back to people... an industry to its workers, to its innovators, its executives.
People are the most compelling topic because it is people who will finally view, and hopefully, connect to the imagery. This may sound idealistic in this age, but I hope it's me or another passionate professional, not a robot, that will continue to perform best in connecting people to other people.