Well lets see. I am 27 years old and I live in Hatfield, PA where I have lived for most of my life. I come from a very artistic family and have quite a few relatives who are what I would call serious photography hobbyists. Having family members that I can bounce ideas off of or ask for advice on buying equipment has been a huge part of my sucess in this business. I have had a love for taking pictures ever since I was young and my parents gave my my little purple Mickey Mouse camera..which I still have. I wonder what kind of looks I would get if I broke it out for someones wedding?
While my high school was rediculously over populated it was good for two things…sports and classes other than your typical Math, English & History. I was lucky enough to be able to take dark room (yes Film!) photography classes as a minor (2 days a week) my sophomore year and then as a major (5 days a week) as a senior. I was also a 3 sport athlete in high school (Cross Country, Indoor Track and Outdoor Track) so I would bring my camera with me to all of the meets and take pictures before the races or while the boys were racing or at the awards ceremonies. They weren’t anything great but it was a start. I actually look back through my old portfolio every once and a while and laugh at how bad some of the pictures are. Finally I graduated having no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Thank goodness for running and colleges wanting to recruit me, it made the decision of where to go much easier.
In the fall of 99′ I was off to Lock Haven University which is about a half hour from Penn State University and in the middle of no where. It was a huge adjustment. There were more students in my high school which only held grades 10-12 than the entire student body at LHU including commuters. Thankfully I had running and my teammates because with out that I would have been so lost. Because I was undecided and had no major my first semester of classes were pre-chosen for me. I ended up with World History 2, World Politics, English Composition and Freshman Seminar. I also ended up with the lowest GPA ever in my life and almost failed out. The next semester I got my act together and started taking Child Development classes with the intentions of becoming a preschool teacher but thanks to my screw up from the semester before I did not meet the requirements to enroll in the teaching program. To compete in a sport the NCAA requires you to be declared into a major after 48 credits and maintain a minimum GPA requirement. My only choices at this point were Recreation and Studio Art. Let’s be honest here while I love the outdoors I am a city kid. Sleeping in a tent with bears and other wild life scares me and I was not about to go hiking through campus with a huge backpack on. I did go to school on the side of a mountain after all. So art it was and I have never once regretted it! I had some of the most talented, creative and down right nutty professors you could ever have. I enjoyed going to classes for once in my life and I learned so much about art and design which I think has had an huge impact on my style of photography. One of the things that changed my life and my look at art in general was being able to take the Art History Seminar in Paris and London my 4th year of college. The main part of the class was to lead a discussion on 2 works of art that were on display in either The Louvre, The Musee d’Orsay both in Paris or The National Gallery and the Tate Modern both in London. Lets just say it was a disaster. All of my photographs that I planned to discuss were on loan to other museums at the time and I had to totally wing it. Needless to say I was in tears. Aside from the drama of that I got to experience an entirely different culture and see some of the most amazing structures and places that could never even compare to places in the US. If I could afford it I would be typing this from my apartment in Paris right now instead of my comfy IKEA chair in Hatfield. The first chance I get I will be going back! While at LHU I was encouraged by my professor to start attending the sporting events on campus to take pictures as it seemed I had a natural talent for capturing the action even on my little digital point and shoot at the time. I continued to take pictures at the cross country and track meets like in high school but also started attending soccer games, lacrosse games, rugby etc. My senior year I decided to sign up as a staff photographer at our college newspaper for a semester to try and get my foot in the door with the publishing world. Unfortunately it was a huge disaster. The person in charge of layouts had no idea how to properly insert a picture and was constantly stretching and distorting the photographs making them look horrible and with my name underneath. The days they would get them inserted correctly they would forget who took them and give credit to sports information or the team its self. This was not how I wanted to be represented so I quit.
Skipping a few years ahead now to 2005. A good friend that I have known since middle school was getting married. She had already hired a photographer from Lindelle Studios but asked me to bring my camera to the rehearsal and take some pictures as well as taking some candid shots during the actual wedding. We politely cleared it with her actual photographer first which hesitantly said yes as long as she stays out of the way. I now laugh thinking back to this because I was the friend in the famous statement “I have a friend who does photography” that pros cringe when hearing. I was good though and only took pictures while he was setting up formals of the bride and groom close up or the brides family…never of the actual set up shot though as requested. I did a few detail shots of the cake and the room set up because he was a traditional film photographer who only did the standard posed photographs and called it a day. The biggest thing for me was being able to get in the dressing room with the bride before and after the ceremony to capture those special nervous or elated moments that weren’t as meaningful to him because he didn’t know her on a personal level. After all of the pictures came back and she had them lying around, numerous co-workers looked at my pictures and thought they were the ones done by the pros. A mutual friend of ours had seen the pictures and asked me to photograph her wedding which was only a few months later. I had never even assisted another pro photographer before let alone done an entire wedding on my own. After a lot of coaxing I reluctantly agreed and everything turned out fine. They loved the pictures and I didn’t royally mess anything up. Word started to travel and the rest is history.
Preferred vendor listed in the Hatfield, Pennsylvania Photographers section of Decidio.com