What was your first camera?
My father gave me a two-and-a-quarter by two-and-three-quarter Zeiss Icon bellows camera when I was in my early teens. Commercial film processing was expensive, so I learned how to process film and prints. The Zeiss produced images of a very high quality but the fastest shutter speed – 1/125th of a second – was not very useful for action sports. I borrowed a twin-lens reflex two-and-a-quarter film camera and a Kodak Instamatic 126 before buying a Minolta SRT 100 35mm SLR.
What camera(s) do you currently own?
Now, my work is exclusively in digital and it a privilege to be a member of both Nikon and Canon Professional Services. However, there are a couple of Minolta film cameras in my equipment bag that have not been used since 2000.
Are you self-taught or did you attend school for photography?
My photographic education came through the school of trial-and-error guided by Kodak technical books. The first photo class that I attended was in 1978 when I walked through the door as the instructor.
How did you get interested in photography?
It’s been so long ago – more than five decades – that I really do not recall where or how the interest began. I do remember an initial interest in high school, but it wasn’t until after my first year of college that I decided to exchange my love of music for photography.
Who was your biggest influence?
There have been several significant and highly influential individuals that have made a huge impact on my early photographic career – notably Jack Turner and Gary Spicer. Jack provided the technical foundation. Gary was responsible for early artistic development.
Jack Turner was an inspirational high school Science teacher that provided my first instruction in the darkroom side of photography. Photography was not part of the regular curriculum. Luckily for me, Jack proved to be one of those educators willing to dedicate his time, materials, and equipment for my budding interest after class. The basic darkroom knowledge that I gained from him carried me through 25 years of film photography. Recently as a gift, Jack presented me with that original enlarger from my early darkroom days.
Gary Spicer proved to have that rare ability to both produce great art, and effectively instruct others in those same fundamental and advanced techniques. Gary’s influence allowed me to take my natural intuition for lighting and turn it into a true reasoning and understanding of the function of highlights and shadows in both art and photography.
I am fortunate that a great many people influenced my life. However, it would be irresponsible of me to not acknowledge the enormous role played by Lucian Priode. He was responsible for instilling a tenacious work ethic in my life and the lives of many young people in my hometown.
When was your big break in photography?
My career has been a sequence of big breaks – opportunities of being in the right place at the right time. I was fortunate in the first couple of years of my career. In February 1975, The Washington Post published two of my photos on the front page of their sports section. The tear sheet from that job became my advertisement for future assignments. A few months later, I began working as a contract photographer for the sports marketing department of the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company and their involvement with NASCAR, IMSA, AMA, NHRA, and IHRA racing. Both of those opportunities opened doors for an interesting career path.
What is your favorite photographic subject?
Whatever is next…
Where is your favorite place for a photographic experience?
Aside from the tropical island of Kauai, and Las Vegas with the surrounding Mojave Desert, every few years I’m drawn back to the remote stretches of streams in the mountains of Virginia near where I was born. In the distance of less than one mile are a variety – in both size and quantity – of rock formations and waterfalls. The scenery is fabulous and changes with each visit. I also enjoy the rocky coastlines of the US West Coast and southern Australia. There is character and atmosphere in the surroundings that lend themselves to the subject, and in turn, to the depth of original images.