An American self-taught photographer and artist whose work is layered by landscape, lifestyle, surf, outdoor and travel subjects.
DESCRIBE YOURSELF AND THE WORK THAT YOU CREATE.
I’ve been inspired by the cold, remote beaches of the world chasing the perfect wave, scenic vista, or inspiring hike. My travels have taken me on a global search through the Arctic and Northern Hemisphere to find the last quiet places in a world that is constantly getting louder. My hope has always been to share these places and inspire people to go find them for themselves.
WHO HAVE YOU WORKED WITH AND WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE ASSIGNMENT?
I’ve been super fortunate to work with a lot of different companies and brands. A short list of some clients I have worked with include Apple, J.Crew, Land Rover, The North Face, Belstaff, Patagonia, and Toyota. My work has been published in National Geographic, The New Yorker, GQ, Men’s Journal, Vogue, and Surfer Magazine to name a few. My favorite trips have been the ones that are more adventure oriented. My trip to the Faroe Islands or to the Aleutian Islands for Surfer Magazine has to be up there as one of my favorites. It’s funny but after all the trips I’ve taken all around the world I sometimes just look forward to taking some family photos at the beach.
RECOUNT YOUR JOURNEY TO BECOMING AN ARTIST.
I sorta fell into it. I never even thought I would have a career taking pictures let alone documenting surfing. All I ever cared about was landscapes. I would use my cameras as a means to document my quick weekend getaways almost as a way to prove that I was there. You see, I never traveled at all as a kid. Ever. I don’t even think I got on a plane until I was in my 20’s. A camera was pretty much my golden ticket to get out of my small town. It was my vehicle to see the world, and it was the creative method that really stuck. The opportunity to be in the moment. I loved art in high school, so that was really all I knew at the time. But as soon as I had a camera in hand, it all changed. No longer was I stuck drawing or painting from a distance. I was in the moment.
I love the Central Coast, but growing up I could never shake the desire to travel. The only place I traveled to as a kid was Yosemite, and although I didn’t appreciate it as much at the time, it really instilled in me a desire for vast landscapes and views which I’m still chasing today!
HOW DID YOUR CHILDHOOD SHAPE YOU INTO THE MAN AND ARTIST YOU ARE TODAY?
Growing up on the Central Coast of California, I never got the opportunity to travel much. I was always inspired by the ocean and the rolling hills around it. I think as a photographer, that is always been one of my biggest goals - to show locations and pay tribute to the landscape we find ourselves in.
YOU'VE TAKEN A LOT OF RISKS ALONG THE WAY, BUT WHAT WAS YOUR DEFINING ONE WHERE EVERYTHING WAS ON THE LINE?
That's a tough one. It could have been quitting my job to live in my truck and commute 4 hours to work an unpaid internship down South. Or maybe even more literally when I got thrown in a Russian jail cell and deported to Korea when I was in my early 20’s during a trip to Russia. I learned really fast that I wasn’t invincible. It’s not just all fun and games. It is the real world, and if you want to be part of it, you have to be ready for bumps and bruises along the way. To me that’s the essence of life - the moments that leave us with scars. They are the ones you remember.
Until then I don't think I had an understanding of the freedoms I enjoyed at home. Nor did I really respect what it means to travel in other countries. I remember begging the U.S. Embassy to get me out and although they got me fed, there wasn't much more they could do.
HOW HAS YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS SUPPORTED YOU THROUGHOUT IT ALL?
I met my wife in high school and she has been my support through everything. Honestly, since day one. It's a bit of a bummer to not be able to travel with her as much now, so when I come home from a trip, I always go straight home to see my wife and kids. They are really the only reason I come home. A Lot of my friends are on the trips with me. It's great being able to travel with them and share the experience of visiting the unique locations.
LOOKING BACK ON ALL THAT HAS UNFOLDED, WHAT NUGGETS OF WISDOM HAVE YOU LEARNED AND EMBRACED?
I would say the biggest lesson for me has been learning how to really take in the experiences I have on the road. For so long, I was totally focused on my assignments and didn't have time to absorb what was happening around me. I got into this type of work to be a storyteller and I realized that while I was getting epic images, I had no stories because I had spent too much time behind the camera. I started to realize it was equally important for me to connect with my subjects and landscapes. This could be as simple as taking a dip in the river or spending time to speak to a local for a few minutes before I snapped his photo. I feel like the world needs more face-to-face time... not just FaceTime.
WHAT DO YOU FEEL HAS ALLOWED YOU TO BREAK THROUGH AND SUCCEED, PARTICULARLY AMONGST YOUR PEERS?
Just having an honest voice. Being willing to open up and share my experiences. When I was a kid working in the field, I really wanted an internship and just the opportunity to learn from people. And I ended up doing two of them. But I was so bummed out at how many people just never gave me the time. I have made a real effort to be open and available for people.
WHO ARE THE MENTORS THAT HAVE INFLUENCED AND INSPIRED YOUR LIFE?
The opportunity to work under Pete Taras’ and Michael Fatali, both of whom taught me so much. While these internships were incredibly valuable, I think most of all failure has been a really good teacher. Learning from your mistakes is an old school way of learning, but it always works. I always was focused on just shooting as much as I could and not being afraid to fail along the way. Also Edward Curtis' work.
IS THERE ANY ADVICE THAT YOU WOULD GIVE A YOUNG PERSON FOLLOWING THEIR PASSION AS AN ARTIST?
Yes! Don't try to convince yourself or others that you can shoot everything great. You aren't hired for that. You are hired because you are a specialist and your work stands out in one field. Every editor I have ever talked to has supported this. So when I see portfolios, I like to see a clean and consistent style or a trademark look that really helps people understand what your style is.
WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR CREATIVITY, WHAT DO YOU FIND YOURSELF CONSTANTLY SEARCHING FOR?
I guess just wild open spaces. That is what I am drawn too; that is what I like to shoot; there is where I like to stand. So I guess I am always seeking those places out.
WHAT ARE THE THINGS THAT KEEP YOU CREATIVELY INSPIRED AND CONSISTENTLY INNOVATING?
I know it sounds cliche, but Instagram really inspires me. With so many artists at your fingertips and being able to see so many different types of work, it is a great source of inspiration. I also find inspiration in other places - photographs, architecture, music, art, food, etc, all really work together to provide me with inspiration.
LOOKING AT OUR WORLD, WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE YOU CAN IMPACT AND CHANGE ABOUT IT?
Inspiring people to care more about the planet and be willing to go out of their comfort zone to experience it.
WE ALL DREAM OF LEAVING A LEGACY. WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED FOR, AND WHY?
I guess someone who was willing to stand up for the things that he cared about and believed in even if he was standing alone. My family and the planet are probably the two most important things. I also hope my photographs can live on a lot longer than I will.
ANY CURRENT ALBUMS, ARTISTS OR SONGS ON REPEAT?
Justin Bieber, haha. I literally listen to everything from Merle Haggard to Future. I love music! I find a song for every situation.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE MOVIE OR TV SHOW?
I am a sucker for 24 and Heroes. I pretty much get sucked into anything, but can never finish because I travel and miss it. Lame, I know.
There are so many books, but I love the books about native american portraits by Edward Curtis.
Cafe Rio. I love that place! Really, any Mexican food.
STAR WARS OR STAR TREK?
WHAT IMPORTANT TRUTH DO VERY FEW PEOPLE AGREE WITH YOU ON?
The book of mormon.
WHAT WAS THE HARDEST THING IN YOUR LIFE TO HEAR?
It was when I asked my wife's dad at 21 if I could marry her. He looked at me and I could tell he was truly concerned if I could take care of her. And he told me that. Three months late, he passed away. I knew that I needed a greater drive than just having a “career” or making great images to be a photographer. For me, that driving force was love. And it still is. I am driven by the desire to support my family. He never got a chance to see my success, and I just hope he knows that I was able to take care of his family in the best way I could.