I am not the worlds best writer nor am I too keen on getting grammar or spelling correct…truthfully, I could care less; however, mom would definitely show me the mean face if I did not at least make an effort. (thank you spell check) None the less, over time you will notice that how I type is actually how I speak. I often use ”...” in place of a comma, a sentence break, or to simulate a continuation of something…I am sure that I use it for other things as well, but we will get to that later.
Somedays, I get burned out on shooting yet have a burning desire to shoot. Has that ever happened to you? To me that is a sure sign that I am in a rut of some sorts and that I need a change of pace. Maybe I have been shooting too many models. Maybe my work is getting cookie cutter from repetition of doing the same old shoots over and over. Well when I get that feeling of restless abandon I tend to go and shoot something completely unexpected and often unexpected to myself as well. If I have been shooting a lot of people, then I will go shoot landscapes or architecture or something out of the ordinary. But what if that doesn’t satisfy the burning desire? What if that doesn’t calm the restlessness? I have seen it quite a few times over the past 10 years of me shooting as a full time photographer. That is when I have to take a step back and settle myself. I need to find out what exactly it is that is bugging me. More often than not, I rind that it is frustration that is driving me nuts. Frustration with not having access to the proper tools that I need to create a certain project. Be that access to models, make up and hair stylists, and most often that is access to proper wardrobe styling and locations.
Mom always told me “Duke, if you want to stay in the hunt, you have to go where the buffalo are.” Meaning that I should not let geography hold me back. Mom’s a smart cookie like that. ;) Additionally, as she knows first hand that I was raised all around the world, mom also knows that I have a terrible case of wanderlust. I am curious about anything and everything and I want to see and experience all that the world has to offer. Most people spend the early part of their life making life long friends, putting down roots, and building a nest egg so that when they retire, they can go and explore the world or live comfortably. I think that I am a bit backwards in that respect. By the time I was 11 years old, I had rounded the globe 8 times and to this day I want to see more. I am like a kid in a candy store or a sponge soaking up new experiences. I am a low maintenance travel junkie at heart. This has not come without it’s fair share of hardships and struggles. I have had more than one failed marriage. It has caused strained relationships with those that I truly care about as well as left me terminally destitute. I may be able to put on a mighty fine dog and pony show to those around me and act like everything is going great, but I can not deny who I am to myself deep down inside.
ps….I tend to ramble…this is such a case…besides, nobody is reading this anyway right?
Q: How did you get into photography?
A: Well, to tell you the truth, I sort of stumbled into it. I had always had an interest in photography ever since my parents let me play with their camera equipment when I was in high school. I took photography as my elective in high school for 3 years. It was my photography teacher, Mr. Ward Sanders at Cypress Fairbanks Sr. High School, who really set me off on this path. He opened my eyes to art in general. We spent as much time in class studying great artists and art movements throughout history as we ever did taking pictures. He taught us to appreciate art and apply it to our images in our own creative ways. After high school, I found a college with a good photography program and decided that was going to be my major. The entire first semester in those classes, I turned in homework assignments that I had done in high school for Mr Sanders class. I got straight A’s in my photo classes. However, I had made a couple of crucial mistakes in that first semester…first of which was pledging a fraternity, second of which was thinking that I had enough self discipline to keep myself to a school schedule that I had a hard time keeping in high school. I mean back in high school, we took 7 classes a day so I figured that 7 classes a semester would be no problem. Right? Well until you add in all the labs and the fact that those same 7 classes were all 3 hour classes not counting the labs. Therefore, trying to take on a 21+ hour course load, pledge a fraternity, adjust to a college schedule, and being out on my own for the first time, was probably not the best course of action. None the less, though I am a fairly intelligent person, that was not the brightest thing I have ever done. After the first semester, my parents and my girlfriend (who later became my first wife) at the time had convinced me that wing a photographer was probably not the best career choice that I could have made. They were all afraid that I would be a starving artist forever you see. So they convinced me to change my major to a more business orientated degree. At the time, I was also working a full time job at the local pizza place. Well as the days turned to weeks to years, I managed to move up in the ranks at the pizza places. By this time, I have moved through my first marriage and onto my second with whom I have a lovely daughter to show for it. Love You Ashleigh. ;) Not long after Ash was born, I found that my 2nd wife and I had different wants and needs out of life. We decided to separate. I had asked my boss that since I had vacation time available if it was okay for me to take a couple days off to sort things out. I mean I needed to figure out what I was going to do about the family, daycare, bills, and all the rest of life’s issues. The boss said that was fine. When I returned to work the next day, I met my replacement. I confronted the boss and asked why there was a replacement since I was only taking a couple days off. His response was that I should take all the time that I needed and that when i returned that they would find some sort of position for me. I took that to mean that I was fired, so did the unemployment office. (even though the company disputed it and lost)
So here I am, no wife, no child, no job, and overdrawn in the bank account by $136. I was devastated. I was degraded, I was torn apart, and I was alone. I decided that I had been doing what everyone else wanted me to do for pretty much all of my life. Now I am all by myself and I think that I want to do what I wanted to do from the beginning. I had set my camera down for about 18 years and had not touched it. So I picked up my old dusty film camera with my 50mm lens on it and decided that I was going to be a professional photographer. I had had this nagging voice in the back of my head for 18 years saying “WHAT IF?” and it had driven me nuts for long enough. I mean what the hell, I have no wife, no job, no money, and the ex took my precious child from me. What do I have to lose? So I set out to become a photographer. As I had unemployment coming in for a few months, I started out building my portfolio. I quickly came to the harsh realization that the photo world had undergone a massive overhaul. No longer were we shooting film, no longer did we spend hours in darkrooms, now everything had gone digital, and we were editing on computers instead of doing our dodging and burning in the darkroom lab. No longer were we hand painting images to correct skin blemishes. Now days, no longer do you even have to know what you are doing to get a good image….but that is a another story. So therefore, I set out to re-teach myself all thing photography. I had to reteach myself lighting…I had to learn what the hell all these little buttons on these new cameras do…for fuck’s sake, just show me where the aperture, shutter speed, and film speed are, and I will be fine right? Seriously, what the hell is a white balance? Auto-Focus Assist? What the shit is that? Sorry…I get pissy some days about new DSLRs taking away the art of photography…maybe I am a purest that thinks that the better the camera is the less auto functions and frills it should have…if you can’t operate it then you aren’t a photographer, you are a snapshot’er. Anyway, I went to a few photography workshops to try and hone my photographic skills as well as learn how to interact with people. Which I was not very good at at all. I was always the introverted shy quiet one that would not approach a pretty girl much less speak to one. So any who, that was back in 2004. I haven’t looked back since. I would not advise anyone to take the path that I took to get here, but that is the strange events that lead me to where I am. I mean seriously, who in their right mind would embark on a career change with no real world training, no budget nor nest egg (overdrawn remember), no business plan, no backers, no equipment(all I had was the film camera and 50mm lens), no clients, no portfolio, no hope. Well lucky for me, I was not in my right mind that day. I was a pissed off person with nothing else to lose…So I took a leap of faith. 10 years later, here I am.
That’s enough for today….feel free to ask me a question and I will do my best to answer it. :)
I have never blogged before, nor am I politically or grammatically correct…Bare with me as I am a work in progress.