Where were you born and raised? How has your life today been influenced by your roots?
I was born in the Bronx, New York but grew up in Connecticut. We visited my mom’s parents, my grandparents a lot in San Diego county at least once a year and I like to believe I’ve always had roots out there. My mom is from California and after I graduated high school in Connecticut we moved out there. I ended up staying for three years then drove across the country to come back ‘home’ to Connecticut. She stayed. My wife and I are able to visit her at least once a year.
My parents divorced when I was very young. I learned a lot about survival from my dad and a lot about living from my mom. As an only child my parent’s friends were my friends and I grew up being able to converse with them just like if they were a friend. I feel that this had a lot to do with developing my intuitive communication and leadership skills.
How did you first come to realize your passion for film, photography, cinematography? Tell us a bit about your inspiration and some struggles along the way.
I didn’t pick up a camera until I was 22 years old. My mom had bought me a little point and shoot and I started taking pictures here and there. This was during the early days of Facebook and photo sharing. Earlier in life my dad was a photographer and after giving me a few bits of feedback on my images and imagery in general I really found a few frames I had captured interesting. Soon after and on a whim I bought myself a little micro four thirds camera as a graduation present to myself. I had done a bit of research and thought I found a great camera. Something about buying it, the lens choice, the gear, I was hooked.
I started looking up photography everything online every waking minute until the camera arrived and the rest is history. The camera showed up, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing but kept learning and shooting.I started buying a few vintage lenses and adapters to use on the camera. I had finally found my calling. Over the last nine years everyday has been a learning experience giving me one more nugget of something good to make me better for tomorrow. That’s the short version.
Life behind the camera often forces the professional to focus on the subject, removing emotion, opinion and even reaction. Describe a scenario where this was tested. How did you use your camera and professional experience to navigate a difficult project, yet still retain the passion for the final quality product?
Over the years I have shot many a mission trip and adventure in places like Uganda, Haiti, India, Jamaica and Colombia and life isn’t easy. There’s is a lot of poverty and injustice in the world. There’s almost too much to take it all in at once. Being behind the camera naturally gives us something to hide behind. It gives us a purpose but it can also be a distraction to what is really going on. I remember there was a hospital in Uganda where I decided not to shoot patients because it would have been disrespectful.
Whether a place is tough or not there will always be light and composition. A passionate photographer can and will always feed of the little beauty to be captured.
You seem to focus on several different initiatives, but appear to be passionate about people and their lifestyles as well as the environment such as the Cannondale or Flow campaigns, Dark Horse Bouldering Series, or even the Osito Coffee campaign. How do you feel about using your skills to capture the human element and changes in the environment?
I am about to go on a week and a half long trip to Romania as part of a longer journey following a young adopted girl who is trying to find her birth parents. Though I do a ton of doc style stuff this will be my first real long form documentary and I am quite excited. As a creative I want things to be perfect and this project has forced me to let that go a bit. This isn’t a commercial campaign. It’s a raw documentary.
I am still figuring out what type of filmmaking I like best and will have a better sense after this project is finished. I have a few friends really into fishing and sustainability and we have a large docu-series idea surrounding that. It’s a matter of finding the time and balancing it with paid work. All I want to do is shoot and create more because I love the craft.
What is your position on organizations rooted in social and environmental consciousness?
Osito Coffee who I went to Colombia with to capture content for is a coffee exporting company rooted in exactly this. I also just did a video for a local organization focused on the fight against human trafficking. I also work part time for Trinity Church in Greenwich, Connecticut as their creative director. My position on these issues is supportive. My personal and internal passions in this area are geared towards restoring the environment and combating injustice.
What are some of the most significant success that you have had over the years? In turn, what are some significant loses and what has the ultimate result been?
I think my entire life and then freelance career journey has been a success so far and I am very humble and thankful to say so. I’d like to believe it’s just the beginning. I not only have had a very supportive family, church family and wife but now living in the same town I grew up in I know a lot of people and that helps with networking. I tell everyone this: 99% of all the work I have ever done has been from someone I know. Share your work on your social channels so people can see what you do and know what you do. You’ll soon get a call or email. My biggest contract and job to date has been this web series and now commercial content for Sennheiser. A friend from high school is their marketing manager and hired me.
On the flip side of success I recently got sick with a sinus infection due to lack of rest and had to miss a big job last minute for someone I really wanted to work with. Thankfully they were understanding but I missed out for sure. I learned that my physical, mental, emotional and spiritual rest is very important and should be more of a priority.
You are exposed to a ton of people, places, corporations and scenarios. What are some practical and simple ways that people can document their own lives with a focus on social and environmental consciousness?
Start capturing stills or video or writing about what you’re passionate about today. Don’t wait. Don’t wait for something you think you need to wait for in order properly get something out there, just start.
Where can people find you, engage with your story and hopefully work with you?