I grew up in a small midwestern town in Minnesota and graduated from college with a business/journalism degree. I was always a kid that focused on scholastics, a bit of an overachiever. It was when I took one photo class that was for my major that I decided traditional business wasn’t for me, I was destined to be a professional photographer! I have to say, probably more balls than brains at the time. I loved looking at fashion, design, and celebrities. I loved watching how all kinds of people moved through the world in their own individual style. Interview magazine was my bible in a town nobody knew what that was! I made money in high school and college painting portraits of people. With my new photo skills, I flipped that to shooting portraits for money. I did my subject’s hair and make-up, styled them in cool thrift clothes and developed the film at the local one hour photo. It was a one stop shop! This early approach set a precedent to what would come into play years later. It is not about a huge production, wasted time and a big show. Taking a great photo is about having a vision, a curated eye, listening to what is around you, a great connection to the subject, and most of all, not being afraid to make a mistake.
I didn’t even attend my own graduation from college. I just packed a Hefty garbage bag full of clothes (pause for branding collaboration), grabbed my single camera, and to my mother’s dismay and pride, moved to NYC to become what was sure to be a huge photo star!! NYC is a tough place. I slept on the floor of a sublet warehouse space and trudged the pavement with stars in my eyes. Unfortunately, those stars got in the way of looking left and right at crosswalks and I was hit smack in the chest by a tour bus full of retired folk from Philadelphia! I went home to my mom of steel who picked me up at the airport with 100 stitches in my face and my legs all torn up. No tour bus, especially one from outside of the NYC area was going to knock me down! A few months of recovery and the more balls than brains devil took over again. I packed my camera and unyielding confidence, as well as a pair of crutches and got on a plane. Destination; fashion filled Milan, then romantic Paris, followed by the ancient isle of Greece. Sydney Australia was a dream come true and in between always stops back to NYC. I have no idea how I did this all on my own… no money… no internet… no cell phone… no technology at all! But I loved it! I dove into the culture… the people… and I made my way as one of them. Looking back, it was one of the best times of my life. Creating. Exploring. I met the most amazing people along the way who helped guide me. I just moved straight past the shitty people and experiences. It was all so amazing! This is what finding your own creative voice is about. I spent the better part of the 90’s running around, growing up, and learning. To be honest though, I ended the decade a bit exhausted and lost. The starving artist lifestyle was taking a toll. I didn’t know what to do with all of the experience I had gathered abroad, America was its own beast. That’s when I met Jennifer.
In order to jumpstart my career, I had to make a plan, envision my destiny. So I made a list of people I wanted to shoot to build a team that could take over the world. Jennifer Lopez was on that list. She had just done the movie Out of Sight. She seemed like a ballsy, beautiful, talented person that could perhaps become a muse to me. That is the way I thought of it, and low and behold, three days after writing that list, I got a call to shoot a cover of a magazine with her. I was her first cover shoot and my first in America. This led to the next job, which was her album cover for On The Six. My world changed from there.
I decided I had enough of NYC and moved to LA to chase shooting celebrities. At first, nobody would even give me the time of day. I wasn’t part of the Hollywood system. Sure I had talent and I knew I had the chops to do it, but they wanted proof! So I figured, if I am not the norm, I will create a new norm! And that is what I set out to do. I created a home where I could live and shoot. I wanted to provide a space that was creative and open to ideas… a place where my subjects could escape. Celebs loved it and my Hollywood journey began! All word of mouth for the most part. Many years of shooting Jennifer fueled amazing interest. I created numbers of homes and spaces, shot the who’s who of Hollywood, from royalty to the up and coming. I shot hundreds of covers for every type of magazine as well as so many uniquely creative projects. 20 years in Hollywood. It has gone by in a blink! I have always kept a small group of people around me who I love and love to create with me. Collaboration, the love of quality work no matter what the trend, but most of all the understanding and enthusiasm for spontaneous adventure. What I do is not real. It is a moment created in my mind based on what is in front of me. It is all a fantastical illusion and I love that! My single camera still in my hand I still love being a voyeur and documentarian of the world around me. It by no means is limited to one type of subject, it is all captured by one well trained and lived eye. The world has changed exponentially and quickly over my 20 years in Hollywood. I have never been given the old school breathing space to sit and reflect. I have always been on the hustle. But these last years have given me, and the world time to do so. I hope I have been successful in creating images that inspire people as well as let their minds escape a bit and get lost in the fantasy of it all.