“Why don’t you pick up a camera?”
My brother asked the question a world away during a Skype session early in 2012. I had just moved to a new place in Japan and was looking for an outlet. I’m not really sure what exactly I had in mind, but luckily that’s what the universe threw in my lap.
Taking photos wasn’t new to me, but taking them seriously – or whatever I thought that meant at the time – certainly was. Being the way that I am, I got ahold of a camera and forced myself to let it sit on a tabletop for about three weeks while I studied the mechanics and basics of how the thing worked.
When I picked it up, I didn’t have a set philosophy or even an idea of what subject matter to shoot. What I did have though, was a backpack and a bicycle. These – especially that beloved Panasonic track bike – turned out to go really well with a camera.
The city of Nagoya became my teacher. It’s impossible to say how many photos were taken during this period. Uncountable. My camera and backpack were mandatory equipment upon exiting the apartment. The city was a lab where at any point you could hop on a bike and in seconds be surrounded by completely different stimuli than before.
Soon, the focus began to narrow. Shots with sunlight became less prevalent, as night and its associated artificial light became the main backdrop. Faces began taking on more prominence. My priorities shifted somewhat. The connection between shooter and subject was now paramount, and I was finding that that people and their stories are now what mattered most to me.
By the fall of that first year, I had met a local promoter and sort of accidentally landed my first real gig. It was a Halloween party, which turned out not only to be one of my favorite nights of shooting to this day, but also an intro into what would become a true love of mine - nightlife photography.
From there, I dove in. Drag shows, rap battles, pool parties, djs, body suspension, live shows of all kinds, and of course the annual tradition of what continued to grow more massive every year – Halloween. I shot family portraiture occasionally, but it was often sandwiched between other events. I recall the regrettable planning of a nightclub pajama party ending just before a kid’s christening the next morning, for one.
As time went on, I expanded into other areas. I started shooting covers and stories for local magazines in both Nagoya and Tokyo (NAGMAG and 3ft Left), began doing headshots and studio portraiture, collaborating with other artists, putting on my first exhibitions, completing some light commercial projects, and took on a position curating editorial work for an American stock collection in Japan (Shutterstock). Also at this time, I had the fortune of having some of my body suspension work featured in the Louvre Museum in Paris as a part of the Fifth Annual Exposure Award’s Portraiture Collection.
By 2015, while still shooting nightlife and portraiture, I started integrating my passion of adventure cycling with that of photography. Ever since a trip zig-zagging across America back in 2009, I have been obsessed with bikepacking. Unfortunately, it was only now finding its way into my photos, as I had a bit of a touring hiatus after destroying my last suitable frame on a Nagoya to Fukuoka trip back in the winter of 2011. Equipped with a new-to-me Motobecane, I was once again free to pedal beyond the limits of the city and into the wilderness - this time with camera in tow. Eventually, this would take me all the way up to Hokkaido, where I would end up living in Sapporo for a time, but not before being awarded as the Semi-Grand Prix winner at the 2017 CENTRAL Photo Exhibition - a national Japanese photo of the year contest.
Finally, after living in Japan for nearly a decade, I made the fateful decision to return to the States and start off 2019 in my home country. Though bittersweet, the time was right to pack up the camera, bike, and tent, and take on a new adventure. Plus, I would now have access to Mexican food and BBQ.
Currently, I operate a studio concentrating on portraiture, headshots, and lifestyle photography right here in Indianapolis. Outside of the studio, I shoot event, corporate, cycling, and nightlife.
From the early days, I was fortunate enough to learn that - more than any camera, lens, or other expensive piece of gear - the most valuable asset to a photographer is simple human connection. It is from this place that I begin when telling anyone’s story. In the words of Edward Steichen:
“A portrait is not made in the camera, but on either side of it.”