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My earliest memory is of drawing. I must have been no older than two years old, sitting on the floor of my childhood home clumsily gripping an oversized crayon in my hand. I doodled incessantly, often getting in trouble with my teachers for filling the margins of my notebooks. I stapled together pages of computer paper to make crude books filled with stories that started strong and fizzled out after a few pages, invariably devolving into narratives about cats and their likes and dislikes.
We got a family computer when I was in elementary school and I quickly became enamored with it. It was an early model with a green blinking cursor on a plain black screen. The state-of-the-art printer spat out lines of text on reams of perforated paper, the edges producing a pleasant ripping sensation when pulled away from the sheet. Later when we upgraded our computer to a system with MS Paint I spent hours creating floor plans, landscapes, and yet more pictures of cats on the bright, buzzing screen on quiet afternoons when I got home from school.
I’ve always been a voracious reader. In my youth I often lost myself in books and stories, frequenting local libraries and staying up long past my bedtime with a book in hand. That love for reading translated directly into a natural affinity for writing, but it was a skill I mostly applied to schoolwork until adulthood when I began to pursue journalism.
Photography came into focus during middle and high school when I was able to afford disposable cameras, obsessively packing them for every trip no matter how minor. I photographed everything I saw – snow covered trees from my bedroom window partially obscured by the reflection of the camera’s flash, my grandmother making goofy faces at the dining table during Thanksgiving dinner, my sister wearing ski goggles while cutting onions in the den, our family dog sleeping fitfully on the back porch on a hot summer day.
There was something magical and fleeting about those early days of photography, the tactile sensation of depressing the shutter and winding to the next empty frame, never sure if I had captured the moment or not. Hoping against hope that nothing would go wrong in the developing process leaving me with an envelope of blank glossy prints and no memory of their original subject. It wasn’t until I was a freshman in college that my father bought me a digital camera and my ability to impulsively capture the world around me was no longer limited by my ability to buy and process film.
I’ve had a camera in my hand since I was a child. Much of my life has been viewed through the lens, so much so that it is a running gag with my friends and family. My brother-in-law’s parents used to joke that I was the ‘paparazzi,’ throwing their hands up in mock dismay when I would bring out my camera at family functions. Before the days of digital cameras I spent, without a doubt, hundreds of dollars on disposable cameras and one hour photo developing. When preparing for a trip in middle school I packed not one, not two, but three disposable cameras in my small backpack and snapped photos incessantly throughout the weekend. I have carried these albums of images with me from house to house, cherishing the memories captured in the faded and bent prints within, moments frozen in time. Photography has made me a time traveler, able to instantly revisit the past with the turn of a page.
Today I carry a Canon 6D Mark II, it’s presence more akin to a limb than a tool. Only once in my career have I accidentally damaged my camera, a 7D at the time, by forcing a lens with bent pins onto the body. My camera was in the shop for a week and during that time I felt empty and panicked without it by my side.
I love print. While I was a student at Georgia State University I discovered a love for graphic design and I quickly became involved in print publications when a passing comment landed me a position as Art Director for the inaugural issue of the Underground Literary Journal. I had previously created photobooks for school projects and as gifts for clients who hired me to take family photos, but I had no experience otherwise. I had taken graphic design and typography classes and had only a rudimentary knowledge of the software, so I approached this task as I do all new challenges: said yes and taught myself the process as I went.
Straight out of college I was recruited by the Art Director of the Daily Report, a daily legal newspaper based out of downtown Atlanta. It was trial by fire: I joined a team of designers who churned out a dense newspaper every day, 5 days a week. I learned InDesign backwards and forwards and have relied upon those skills ever since, to this day using the Adobe Software Suite nearly every day of my career.
I went on to work as a designer for t-shirt screen printing and promotional item design for a local print shop where I gained insight as to the print and production side of design. Eventually I returned to my roots and became a designer for Springs Publishing which produced 4 weekly newspapers (the Buckhead, Brookhaven, Sandy Springs and Dunwoody Reporters) as well as the monthly Atlanta INtown Newspaper.
At every step of the way I have found ways to integrate my photography skills, taking pictures to go with stories for these publications and documenting art shows at the print shop. Eventually I pivoted and migrated into working as a freelance photojournalist and writer for these five newspapers and others, telling the INtown editor that one day he would “get tired of hearing me talk about wanting to write and give me a chance.” That fateful comment led down a path that has resulted in a large body of work which can be seen over on my writing portfolio page.
In addition to working as a designer and freelancer I have worked as an art teacher which I find to be incredibly meaningful. I have worked as a teaching artist at the High Museum of Art where I led summer camps and school programs through the galleries, creating and following lesson plans inspired by the works of the great artists on display within. I taught several clubs at the progressive high school The New School Atlanta where I taught journalism in the form of zine building and started a yearbook club for which I photographed and designed their first ever yearbook. I also picked up gigs teaching art workshops for the Alliance Theatre, Woodruff Arts Center, Agnes Scott College, Wonderroot, and the Breman Museum.
Most recently I held a job as Marketing Director for Hirsh Real Estate / Buckhead.com where I was responsible for photography, writing, web design, and the design of promotional print materials to advertise luxury real estate listings and generate content for Buckhead.com.
I’m always looking for ways to integrate my creative passions and skills into new pursuits. My path has not been linear, but every job and position I’ve held has furthered my creative career. I can’t remember a time before making art and I plan to continue creating every day for the rest of my life.