I often struggle to put my thoughts into words, it never goes as planned and always seems to magically transform into something greater. I tend to open up this style of review with a philosophical statement or a story, similar to a non-fiction novel; an opening presentation that will set the stage for a drawn-out journal of reflection, passion and inspiration. Once the first sentence is down, my mind eases back for a long drive through memories and mental photographs. After time, I eventually translate the incursion of cognitive thought to paper.
I’ve come a long way from the broke, wild, metal-face musician who simply wanted to make a living from creativity. I could have never possibly imagined how drastically a camera could change a life. As I recount the past 12 months, stories play out in my head like an old film that has been rendered thousands of times; battered, burning and brittle. I suppose my life is like a real-life non-fiction novel, with all the rich characteristics; action, adventure, mystery and comedy. And, some romance.
I worked hard in 2016, but explored balance and attempted to bury the inner workaholic. At the start the year, I rested through the weekend, shut down the laptop and even stopped to binge on Netflix. Despite the endeavor, I ended the year working through the weekend, struggling to keep my laptop charged and forgetting my Netflix password. The inner workaholic desires a better self, a better business and a better life for the children that don’t yet exist. Throughout the year, I was met with the hardest hurdles I’ve ever had to face, obstacles which tested my strength, passion and will. There was times when I wanted to give up, throw in the towel and live an easy life. But, as soon as found myself holding the white towel, I focused and pushed through the adversity.
When I review the year and I feel exhausted when I begin to think of every misstep. It was a year of sacrifice, strain and fiscal demur. But, without difficulty, there is no progress and there was a lot of progress. Let’s review…
- I leased a studio and moved from a 300 square foot living room to a 2000 square foot commercial studio.
- I photographed Triple Crown Winner American Pharoah for Churchill Downs Incorporated.
- I traveled to London, England to host a two-day workshop. My first international workshop.
- I photographed the American rock band Artifex Pereo who released their second album on Tooth & Nail Records.
- I photographed Paul Saunders, the CEO of eLuxurySupply for "Inc. Magazine", which has a world-wide circulation of over 600,000 reaching over 2 million consumers.
- I photographed Miss America 2000 Heather French Henry for Churchill Downs Incorporated and TOPS In Louisville.
- I re-branded, with a new logo, new portfolio and new marketing campaign.
- In partnership with Nadus Films, we successfully wrapped production on a project for DayOne Response in the Sierra Nevada landscape, for their revolutionary water bag system.
- In partnership with Nadus Films, we have completed principal production on a documentary project for Wings Of Kilimanjaro. We tell the story of 26 para-gliding pilots who sailed off the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro and raised over $200,000 for clean water and education in Tanzania, Africa.
- I successfully wrapped production on an official Fstoppers photography tutorial. We captured over twenty unique lessons on lighting, retouching, marketing and the business of fashion and editorial portrait photography.
- I wrapped production on a free series with RGG EDU on the benefits of tethering, which explores my workstation in the studio.
- I established an exclusive endorsement with Red Bull, SAXX Underwear, Think Tank Photo, Viewsonic, BlackRapid, Profoto, Atomos, Benro, Light & Motion, SmugMug, Tether Tools, Savage Universal, X-Rite, and Phase One.
- I photographed Nate Morris, Founder of Rubicon Global for "Forbes", which has a world-wide circulation of over 2 million, reaching nearly 7 million consumers.
- I started drinking coffee.
- I lost an additional 50 pounds, for a total of 125 pounds.
Each project was met with perseverance, patience and teamwork. And, none of it would have been possible without the dedication the following people: Hunter Zieske, Gabrielle Colton, Louis Tinsley, Ashley Roberts, Sydney Darwin, Jordan Hartley, Bethany Hood, Anastasia Gerdes, Gunnar Deatherage, Blake McGrew Coury Deeb, Justin Gustavision, Sol Perry and Chris Miske.
This year alone, my staff and I snapped nearly 80,000 photographs, delivering projects from Ethiopia to California to Kentucky for clients such as Toyota, Forbes and Churchill Downs. While every year presents a different challenge with greater pressure, there is no blueprint. The last 52 weeks have proved that I am armed and prepared for an entirely new level of life and career.