Among the many interviews I conducted this year, I tend to ask one final question to conclude the interview. I ask the interviewee to describe a person or an event in one single word or a series of words. When I ask myself that question regarding the past year, several strong adjectives come to mind: Fear, Food, Focus, Love, Loss and Grit.
I left 2016 in a hole. I descended the highest peak in Africa right into a video series with Fstoppers and finally ended the year on a production with Forbes. I had accomplished a lot in 2016, but felt lost in a disoriented state of exhaustion. I buried the inner workaholic and attempted to take a break, but I was drowning from burn out and left in the dark without a clear goal. So, in January, I did what I do best: I took a risk.
I moved into a brand-new studio, nearly double in size of my old studio. It was the first spark toward an expansion I so desperately craved. The move propelled me into a blurred and colorful wormhole to this moment at which I find myself staring into a white page without a word to say. I’m left with a jarring dismay and a humbling awareness of how blessed I truly am.
At this point every year, I recall the people, the beauty and the mood of memories in time. They flash through my head like a highlight reel on repeat. Some memories sting, while many sing. Some memories scream, while many smile. Throughout the year, I let my inner critic get the best of my charisma and told myself I wasn’t good enough, smart enough or brave enough. I let word of others deter me down spiral of self-doubt; I learned a lot about people and the complexities behind people. Consequently, I learned a lot about myself. I took every step, every breath knowing I can do better and I can be better.
I pushed beyond the threshold of what I thought I was capable of mentally, physically, personally and professionally and came out on the other side focused and fortified with a refreshed approach to my craft. I feel strong enough to firmly place my feet on a foundation fortified by concrete, armed with steel hammer ready for the next phase of my career. This year, my staff and I traveled over 50,000 miles and captured over 80,000 photographs, delivering projects from Iraq to Washington to Kentucky for clients such as Popular Mechanics, A&E Networks, UPROXX, Comcast, The Guardian and TIME. Let's review.
- I moved into a brand new commercial studio nearly double in size then my former studio.
- I photographed Allison Jones, the President of Big Machine Label Group who first discovered Taylor Swift at the legendary music venue "The Bluebird Cafe."
- I established an exclusive endorsement with Profoto as a “Legend Of Light.”
- I photographed Andy Schmidt of Marvel who was a vital element to the comic book production and story-lines of Guardians Of The Galaxy, The Avengers and G.I. Joe.
- In partnership with Fstoppers, I successfully launched an 11.5 hour photography tutorial. With over twenty unique lessons on lighting, retouching, marketing and the business of fashion and editorial portrait photography.
- I successfully wrapped for a feature for Popular Mechanics. We traveled in a classic Land Rover Defender from Louisville, Kentucky to Southern Pines, North Carolina through the back-roads of the Great Smoky Mountains without a GPS, on purpose.
- I successfully wrapped a production for Uproxx, Watchable and Comcast for a new web series entitled "Us Against The World." A real-life basketball saga that has unfolded in the back country of Hazard, Kentucky.
- In partnership with Nadus Films, Unseen, Canon and BorrowLenses we traveled to Northern Iraq to shed light on one of the thousands of families, who are finally returning to their war-torn home in Qaraqosh, Iraq. Our focus was not war, but those standing up in the aftermath.
- In partnership with Phase One and Dodd Camera, I hosted a sold out Chicago, Illinois workshop.
- I successfully wrapped two major projects for A&E Networks, which included production stills for two Lifetime Reality TV shows: "Dance Twins" and "Little Women: Atlanta."
- I developed and a professional portfolio book.
- I photographed Jennifer Lawrence over two days for the Jennifer Lawrence Foundation.
- I traveled to Seattle, Washington for two exclusive 90-minute seminars on CreativeLive for Photoweek.
- I established an exclusive endorsement with Capture One as a brand ambassador.
- In partnership with Nadus Films, we successfully wrapped a re-brand project for "Darbie Angell" in Bangladesh which focuses on woman empowerment in developing countries.
- I photographed Carl Swope of the Swope Family of Car Dealerships for TIME.
- My Rottweiler and best friend “Technology” passed away.
- I drank bourbon with two Navy Seals(Seal Team Six).
- I ate at a double Michelin Star restaurant.
- I was robbed in Oakland.
- I met a girl.
My career has taken me to a point where it is simply logistically impossible to be a one man show. Everything I create is built with the blood, sweat and tears of a team. Behind the brand is a collection of people who I owe a debt of gratitude: Alexandra Hepfinger, Hunter Zieske, Louis Tinsley, Chelsea Marrin, Ashley Roberts, Jordan Hartley, Bethany Hood, Anastasia Gerdes, Gunnar Deatherage, Blake McGrew, Coury Deeb, Justin Gustavision, Reid Olson, Drew Layman, Ryan Galanaugh, Sol Perry, Amie Santavicca and Chris Miske.
2017 has forever branded itself into my life as a year I will never forget and always remember it as a year of Fear, Food, Focus, Love, Loss and Grit..