It was my first digital camera, it was the year 2000, it was an awful time, it was an incredible time. I thought I knew love. I thought I knew everything. I knew next to nothing.
I had gone to art school. My work there was okay, but nothing mind-altering-ly special. I knew artists who were destined to make it. My buddy Jason, for example. He was my roommate and came from painting royalty. And he had the talent and pedigree to keep going. It was innate in him and you just knew he’d get representation somewhere. In the old days, that’s how you made it — some gallery picked you up out of school. But me, I could draw well but I hadn’t honed any ideas, really. It was innate in me, too, but I possessed none of the confidence or single-minded drive that Jason did. He shows all over the world now.
Famed comic book artist, Todd McFarlane, sent submissions to hundreds and hundreds of comics while in college. It took years of rejections, but he finally got his break. I showed my work around, people liked it, but they didn’t care about it. The difference between me and McFarlane is that he kept going and I did what a lot of insecure artistic types do — I compromised and went into commercial art instead. And because you can make money at it, it easily justifies itself. And the justifications aren’t wrong. They just didn’t stop me from feeling a little bit unsatisfied with it all.
In 2000, with a newborn, I discovered purpose in a different way. And that purpose led me straight to photography. I’d had a camera since I was 13 years old. I was in a darkroom through high school and college. I just never took it very seriously and the images were garden variety. With a child, a subject entered into my life that made photography very relevant. I got a digital camera, lights and lenses and told myself that I’d build an escape hatch. And this was where things got all crazy.
I had a list of photographers I admired. No one on the list was a surprise: Lindbergh, Mark, Arbus, Lange, Avedon… made men and women. Gods of the photography world. I longed to be among them but it was like suddenly wanting to be a professional…