The longest running path through my life is a passion to be in the natural world. Give me a night sky full of stars to lie under, a lake to dip a paddle in, or a stream to boulder hop along, and I am content. I’ll be honest, that’s the best part. A camera, a pencil, and a desire to tell stories are tools to express myself, but in the end I would happily put it all aside to just be. It doesn’t get any better.
Photography started as a fun hobby in my early teens. I was hooked by the magic of a print coming up in a tray under red lights, and even more so by the magic of holding on to memories. But I was a postcard photographer at best, and after years of bringing a camera into the wilderness, I accidentally dropped it into a saltwater estuary in the Everglades. Freed from the burden of always feeling the need to carry a camera, I spent the ensuing years simply seeing. Actively seeing and exploring the natural world, living my Thoreau-like existence, inspired by the John Muir, feeling connected to Sigurd Olson and Aldo Leopold. My early heros were, and still are, writers. When I picked up a camera many years later my images were entirely different. Its seems that in those years, without knowing it, but having spent countless months living in and close to the natural world, I had honed my natural eye. And my images showed it. Something fundamental had changed. I like to think that I let go of photographing objects and things in favor of capturing the essence of places and the magic of moments.
In the early 1990’s, wanting to seriously focus on photography, I apprenticed and then worked full time at a San Francisco photo lab. This was no ordinary lab. The folks there worked magic. It was the best training I could have imagined for giving me a skill I could then bring into the world, the ability to make a beautiful print.
My writing, which started in the form of essays that hung next to each photographic print at art shows, is my hidden love. It takes a back seat too often to image making, but a book of essays and images showed up in 2004, and I continue to write for a blog and several ongoing projects.
I love to teach, and a key moment as a young adult was during a summer college job at the National Audubon Society teacher education camps, which then blossomed with the Institute for Earth Education. In 1995 Sam Abell of National Geographic and Reid Callanan of The Santa Fe Photographic Workshops opened a door for me to present a new workshop in Santa Fe titled “A Natural Eye”. The premise for the workshop followed my own path in photography of developing a natural eye first, and then bringing a camera and its technical skills up to that eye. In January of 1998, my new path in photographic teaching was honored as I became the first recipient of The Santa Fe Center for Visual Arts’ Excellence in Photographic Teaching Award.