Advertising photographer who has worked with the likes of Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Nike, Nylon, Thrasher, LA Times, Vans, RVCA, Quiksilver, Monster Energy and Mountain Dew.
DESCRIBE YOURSELF AND THE WORK THAT YOU CREATE.
I’m a lifestyle and fashion advertising photographer. I shoot a lot of things but that seems to sum up most of it. Mainly I photograph people. That’s the majority of my work, whether that is for a company or a magazine. I first picked up a camera in high school. From there till around late 2013, I focused on photographing skateboarding. Around that time there was a big shift in my work to photographing things and people outside of the skate world. So a slightly mixed answer. I’ve been taking pictures for a little over 10 years but professionally to this extent for coming up on two years.
WHAT ARE YOUR GO TO ESSENTIALS AND TOOLS?
I primarily use a Canon 5D Mark III. But I still love shooting photos with my iPhone. I use my phone to take photos everyday. Having a laptop/computer is pretty essential. But honestly that’s about it. If I had to run to the airport right now and travel to photograph something I’d take the following: my Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 24-70 lens, Canon 70-200 lens, iPhone, Incase camera bag, Macbook Pro, two hard drives, Bose noise cancelling headphones and a Leatherman multitool.
WHAT ARE THE THINGS THAT KEEP YOU CREATIVELY INSPIRED AND CONSISTENTLY INNOVATING?
I’d say mainly the internet. I’m constantly saving images to my computer and building a huge gallery of inspiration. I do love looking through magazines, but honestly, I find all those images online and I don’t have to scan pages anymore. I know that’s not very eccentric of me but it’s practical.
WHO ARE THE MENTORS THAT HAVE INFLUENCED AND INSPIRED YOUR LIFE?
First and foremost, my wife Lwany Smith. She is a wardrobe stylist represented by Jed Root. I met her in college and we moved to California together. I swear, I wouldn’t be where I am without her. Her work ethic and taste level have impacted my work more than anything else has. I’d say by far she’s the biggest influence in my life and my work. I owe it all to her.
Second, I’d say my rep Laura Elizabeth Andonian with Eye Forward. I’ve been with her for close to two years now and she’s been amazing. We talk constantly and she has lead my career further than I thought it would go. She is always giving me an honest opinion about my work and how I show it. She’s a great partner!
Third and finally, I’d have to say my favorite teacher in college, Forest McMullin. When I was in college, I was dead set on becoming a skateboard photographer (which ended up being for the late Skateboarder Magazine). Even though Forest knew that was a short term dream and wouldn’t be fully sustainable, he stuck in there with me, guiding my photography in a way that helped shape the photographer and the man I am today. Every time I go to my alma mater - the Savannah College of Art and Design - we get together over drinks.
HOW DID YOU DISCOVER YOUR LOVE FOR CREATIVITY?
I’d have to say it was when I was a little kid. I was always drawing or building something. My mother and father took photos, but they were mostly family photos of holidays and vacations. I would say they were probably more into it than other parents. So I think that unconsciously had something to do with it. Both of them knew creativity was a good thing, so they were always open to it. I never knew I could make a career out of it until my photography classes in high school. Even then I was hesitant or scared to tell my teacher that I wanted to do this for a living. I thought it was silly and probably not possible. I’m glad I worked up the courage to tell him because he helped me so much during those last two years of high school. He would be my fourth mentor.
IF YOU COULD GIVE YOUR YOUNGER SELF ONE PIECE OF ADVICE, WHAT WOULD THAT BE?
Carry your camera everywhere and photograph everything. Also, shooting skateboarding is for sure cool but make sure to have a back up plan and begin photographing other things besides skateboarding. Because that magazine you’re working for, yeah, it’s going to go out of business in late 2013 so be ready!
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED FROM THE VALLEYS AND PEAKS IN YOUR LIFE AND CAREER?
Realizing that life is a series of valleys and peaks. It is a never ending ride. It is important to always enjoy the peaks and brace for the valleys. But most of all, never staying stagnate in your life or your career. That is the quickest way to have everything fall apart. Always keep pursuing your dreams and improving the relationships you have. Never take anything for granted. Be thankful for everything you have. I could go on and on but I feel like that sums it up. I’m still relatively young, so disbursing life advance seems a little premature. But that’s what I’ve gathered so far.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE QUOTE?
The 7 Ps - Proper Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance.
WE ALL DREAM OF LEAVING A LEGACY. WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED FOR, AND WHY?
Being inspiring, genuine and caring? That’s a tough question.
STAR WARS OR STAR TREK?
Star Wars for sure.