I have been involved in photography since the age of 15. I took a photography class in high school to fill some extra time in my schedule. Little did I know, that class would spark a flame inside me that would eventually become one of the passions in my life. I dabbled in photography for the next 30 years, not really getting too serious about it. But then again, I was preoccupied with my career as a peace officer with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department in Southern California. With limited free time during a busy career, my photography took a long hiatus until I went on a trip to the Holy Land. With nothing but a Canon Elph and a bunch of canisters of film I found myself looking to create images that were more meaningful than the typical tourist pictures, and I had a beautiful, historic location to work with. The spark came back to life again, and the flame grew…
After that trip I went through a life-changing event that would leave me with more free time than I knew what to do with. It was only natural to fan the flames and get back into photography. The digital era was in its infancy. Digital cameras were large, bulky and most topped out at a whopping 3 MP! I held out and pinched pennies until I could buy my first DSLR, a Canon 10D. With a new life (and a new wife!) I found the motivation and support that I needed to dive head first into photography.
With the exception of the basic high school photography class, I am largely self-taught. As I learned about my hobby the passion for it grew. In 2007 I met a great photographer named Russ Burden. I took a ten-day tour with Russ. It was then when I realized this is what I want to do! Under his tutelage and mentorship that little spark from high school became an inferno! My enthusiasm and passion for photography has been a major part of my life ever since. Russ taught me three of the most important keys to becoming a successful nature photographer:
• It’s ALL about the light! The difference between just a ho-hum photograph and a spectacular image is often just a change in the lighting conditions.
• Patience, patience, patience! It is not uncommon for me to sit for hours on end, or return to the same location many times, waiting for just the right conditions and light to develop. (See above key!) Being patient and resilient are principles in nature photography.
• Fill the frame with what you love! Photography is an art of subtraction, not addition. Resist the temptation to cram as much as you can into the frame. Focus on what is of prime interest and make a solid composition around it.
After sustaining a career-ending injury, I recently retired after more than 34 years with the Sheriff’s Department. This has given me the time to share my passion, enthusiasm and motivation for photography with others. When I have a shot in mind that I want to get, there’s almost nothing that I won’t do to “get the shot!” It is not unusual for me to get up at 2:00 AM, drive for several hours, and hike quietly into a perfect location. All of that to sit in a snow storm to wait for the perfect sunrise lighting.
Whether it is through my prints, calendars, or one-on-one instruction, I look forward to sharing with you to the same pleasure I experience when I am out collecting images for my portfolio. A wise man once told me that a bad day of shooting beautiful landscapes beats even the best day in an office. I would like to encourage and invite you to spend some time in my “office.” Drop me a line and I will show you the light!