I remember my passion for photography started when I was 5 years old and I received my first "real" camera from my uncle. I ran around the house with my pink Kodak Mickey-Matic taking pictures of my family -- quickly learning to not use up my external flash card too quickly. In 6th grade I got my first "grown up" point-and-shoot camera that had a built in flash, and it went with me everywhere. By the time I was 16 and had earned my first real paycheck from my summer job, it was no surprise that the entire check went to purchasing a Kodak Advantix camera.
While earning my degree in Ornamental Horticulture and Environmental Design at Delaware Valley College, I developed a strong understanding of basic design concepts. During my last semester of senior year, our Built Environment class was working on a design project for the in-progress 'Beth Works' plan in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Part of this project included a field trip to the remnants of the site of the former Bethlehem Steel plant to understand the project and take pictures. The next weekend I went home to visit my family and was very excited to show my mom the pictures I took with my 4-mega pixel digital Gateway camera. Thinking nothing more than how cool it was to have been around such rustic ruins, I scrolled through the pictures on my computer telling her what she was looking at. One picture in particular suddenly made her interrupt me, frantically telling me to go back so she could see it again. She let out a little gasp, and told me that picture looked like something she would see hanging up in the art department at the college she taught at. We both suddenly started to see the pictures I took in a new light, and I realized not only did I love to take pictures but that I was also good at it. My photography career had officially launched.
A few months later, I had gotten my first DSLR camera and was beyond eager to go places and teach myself how to use all the manual settings on the camera. Over the next couple of years I was lucky enough to build my skills while photographing landscapes and architecture in places like Ireland, Hawaii, Chicago, Louisville, Nashville, Savannah, and New York. I was slowly learning to grow my business by using friends and family to practice my skills with working with people, like in maternity shots, baby showers and small backyard weddings. However, I knew I still had plenty to learn when it came to working with clients and more intricate equipment.
I found 2 wonderful photographers to assist who not only were talented but taught me more than I would have learned on my own in a fraction of the time. I started working part time with Tina DeAngelis at her studio Visual Xpressions in Fair Haven, New Jersey. Working with Tina I learned many of the ins and outs of running your own local studio, from managing client databases to promoting yourself and using word of mouth. I learned to set up and break down portable backdrops and lighting equipment, and after some time Tina put me behind the camera helping her take pre-school portraits. I quickly learned many tricks to photographing the little squirmy ones, and to evaluate my surroundings and subjects more quickly so the shots can get taken before the kids get bored.
During this time I was also lucky enough to get the chance to work as an assistant to rock photographer Mark Weiss. For the past 30 years Mark has been photographing a wide range of top celebrities and musicians, such as Bon Jovi (including the album cover for Slippery When Wet), Ozzy Osbourne and Skid Row. Working with Mark gave me incredible opportunities that included: assisting him during a special Phil Collins concert at the Roseland Ballroom that was being taped to be released on Blu-Ray; helping him shoot the new members of Trans-Siberian Orchestra for their 2010 Christmas tour book; and helping with promotional shoots for new up and coming bands. During this time I learned how to use even more advanced equipment, how to think and move quickly to "expect the unexpected" during events, to think outside the box, managing high-end clients, and how to recognize what these clients looks for in their photos. I also got the chance to work with him as a second photographer in a wedding, where I learned more details in the shots taken at special events, and how to create my own style.
Using the skills and knowledge I cultivated from working with Tina and Mark, I've added the things I've learned on my own, and my own natural talent and style. Every job I get -- small or large -- gets me excited to express my art and the way I see things. More importantly, what makes me truly happy are the smiles on people's faces when I capture that one special moment for them, or help them see how beautiful they truly are.