I have been passionate about photography since I can remember. As a young boy growing up in the 1970s, my first exposures to photos and videos came from my dad and granddad. My dad had an Argus 35mm camera and a whole bunch of slides in metal and wooden boxes. Most of them were of family and reunions, but some were of other things such as views from airplane flights he was on during his time in the United States Air Force before he was married.
My grandad had a Bell and Howell Super 8 movie projector and tons of family footage of good times like reunions and holidays. So at Christmas all of the uncles, aunts, and cousins would gather at the grandparent's house and we would watch old home movies and slide shows. My uncle was an avid photographer, and later, like myself, all my male cousins shared a love for photography.
I remember my experience ordering my very first camera. I had been subscribing to Petersen's Photographic and I knew I wanted to make an informed decision on the best brand, model, and company to buy from. The back of the magazine had page after page of ads for camera dealers all over the country, including Chicago, Seattle, and New York City. It was around 1983-84 and after much study, I settled on the Pentax ME Super and I chose Smile Photography in New York City. I was torn between several equally good choices that listed the same prices within a few dollars, but somehow I was drawn to the name Smile.
What made the ME Super so special was that it featured two push buttons on the top of the camera that allowed you to digitally dial in the shutter speed. It was like aperture priority but instead of the camera automatically determining the correct shutter speed, you set that yourself by pushing one button to increase the speed and the other to decrease it. I guess you could say this was an early version of ambient light control and exposure compensation.
One of my earliest professional photographic opportunities came in 1987 when Dan Brock (co-founder of Forefront Records with Eddie DeGarmo, Dana Key, and Ron Griffin) loved a photo I had taken and framed of Dana Key so much that he hung it on the wall behind his office chair in the newly formed company's offices. He would later invite me to attend Petra and Degarmo and Key concerts to capture other images. It was a real honor. (DeGarmo and Key was the first Christian Band to have a music video appear on MTV.)
My photography remained a hobby for the most part, however, (with the exception of being asked to shoot one friend's wedding in the early 90s) until 1998 when I was working as an off-duty police officer. I was working every Friday and Saturday night at either the 27-screen Hollywood 27 or the 16-screen Green Hills 16 movie theater and I started thinking "Why do this when I could shoot one wedding a month and make as much, if not more?"
I continued working off-duty at the theaters but gradually started acquiring equipment and even switched over to the Canon EOS3, and also started using the Bronica ETRSi and Pentax 67 medium format cameras. I ended up shooting about a dozen weddings over the next several years.
I left the police department in 1999, and continued working as an armed guard for the same company that I worked for as an off-duty police officer. It was during that time I continued to shoot weddings and when I also began shooting model and glamour photography. I worked every Friday and Saturday night at the 2nd Avenue Hooters in downtown Nashville. I shot with many of the girls individually and management even commissioned me to shoot all of their girls for a national Hooters Day promotion. Since that time I have continued to enjoy glamour photography and general portraiture as I love shooting and working with people.
In the Spring of 2007, I met outlaw country star Tonya Watts online when I approached her in regards to a music download company I was promoting. A few months later I saw that she was opening a show in Birmingham, Alabama for Kid Rock, and asked her if I could shoot the show. She said "Yes" and I was, and still am, so grateful for that opportunity. This was my chance to once again marry my two passions, photography and live music.
A month later she called on me to shoot the stills photography for her hit "Cumberland Angels" music video which was directed and shot by Blake Judd (Shooter Jennings). I have enjoyed working with Tonya on many projects since then, including another music video, single covers, headshots, and many live concert shots. I continue to work closely with her on booking, promotions, social media marketing and with her own label Dazey Rock Records.
Other artists/labels that I have worked with include Mark Elliott, Jaida Dreyer, Ray Scott, and Waylon Payne.