I’m a professional wedding and portrait photographer working and living in the fair city of Tucson, Arizona, making images of joy and beauty for families. My desire to work with images began in high school, and I turned to photography when it turned out I was a pretty mediocre painter and sketch artist. Good thing!
I really found my calling in college, first at the State University of New York at Binghamton, and later at The University of Arizona, in Tucson. In each case, working as a staff photographer at the college newspaper was more fun (and more enlightening) than my regular liberal arts studies Though I enjoyed studio photography and journalism classes, they lacked a certain direct “realness” compared to covering events that you could see in print the next day. It was the 90′s and film was still king. Late nights in a darkroom and the smell of crazy Kodak chemicals were a right of passage, and we college journalists were a weird, surprisingly tight-knit bunch.
When a spot opened up as an in intern at the photography department of the big morning paper, the Arizona Daily Star, I jumped at it. It was like moving up to the big leagues. The Star had a strong photography department, with a dozen grizzled photojournalists who were, I found, actually willing to share tips and tricks of the trade. It was the tail end of the glory days of print journalism, and it was a blast. I learned quickly on the job, with a variety of weird and wonderful assignments every day – from rock concerts to shootings to weather disasters and community struggles. I was elbow to elbow with everyone, from the famous to the forgotten, all caught up in the cycle of the news. And at any moment, everything could change with a call on the police scanner. Drop what you’re doing, something’s on fire! It’s an exciting way to live, but not a terribly sustainable one, over the long haul.
I continued that work for ten years, traveling around the southwest and the United States for in-depth pieces on stories that affected Arizona. Digital photography came along, and the newspaper industry embraced it as a way to get photos to print that much faster. They bought us all the new toys and brought in specialists to teach us – a tremendous learning experience.
Along the way I started to see I could supplement my meager salary as a journalist with freelance jobs, which were almost as varied as the news assignments. On the advice of an AP photographer, I bought my own pro equipment (no small investment!) as a safeguard against a surprise layoff.
Weddings came naturally after that. At the time, wedding photography was still mostly the cheesy, awkward, painful schlock we associate with soft focus and star filters, but a trend towards “documentary” style was growing in California and picking up steam. That suited my skills just fine.
Over time, my style evolved to include “candid portraiture” – a relaxed but composed method of solo and group photos that incorporates movement and spontaneous fun. No more “firing line” style shots. We keep it light, fun and playful, and clients absolutely love it.
I quit my journalism job about five years ago to do this full time – 25-30 weddings a year, with a smattering of family portraits, commercial jobs and volunteer work. It’s hard work, especially during the peak seasons of Spring and Fall, prime wedding photography season here in Tucson Though sometimes I miss the crazy variety of journalism, I don’t miss the police scanner.
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