After returning from Ireland with my Irish partner so as to provide support for my parents following my father's diagnoses of terminal cancer, I/we remain based in Ann Arbor, Michigan where I primarily photograph events for the University of Michigan as well as for people within the region. During my 17-years based in Ireland I worked as a photographer and writer, often traveling well over 50% of the year on destination assignments. I have shot for numerous international publications including National Geographic Traveler Magazine, Discovery Channel, GEO, USA Today, New York Times and the houses of Thames & Hudson and Workman Publishing. During my stead in Ireland I served as primary photographer for the internationally renown NYC-based Black Star Publishing. I remain ready and most able to photograph events, people and places locally or as far as anyone wants me to travel. Here's some of my story:
My love for photography began as a child and soon consumed a hefty chunk of my paltry household choir allowance. As a tween, mowing lawns and such afforded my own Kodak Instamatic along with more film. Come high-school graduation, the gift I asked for and received was an Olympus OM-2n, an inspiring leap forward from a plastic point-n-shoot. Hourly wages soon bought additional lenses, darkroom equipment and my first rolls of slide film. Whereas my erstwhile plastic-not-fantastic Instamatic was never more than a sporadic companion, my metal Olympus SLR became a veritable sidekick, especially during a university semester of conflict resolution studies in Jerusalem and another of Spanish in Seville, Spain.
My first assignment work began as a photographer for the Ensian yearbook at the University of Michigan, where I graduated "with distinction" and a double-major in Anthropology and English. After several years working and studying in Puerto Rico, Spain and New York City, with my Olympus OM4ti oft at-hand and focused on cultural events and social turmoil, I returned to the University of Michigan in 1991 intending to graduate with a PhD in Cultural Anthropology. During my first semester I joined the award winning Michigan Daily student newspaper. As a staff writer and photographer I covered many aspects of academic life leading to my selection to cover the university's solar-power car team's participation in Sunrayce during the summer of 1993, when nearly 60 collegiate solar-car teams raced from Texas to Minnesota. Our team won and opted to use some of their cash and prizes to participate in World Solar Challenge during the Fall semester of 1993. When the University's media office offered me a package of flights and money to accompany the team to Australia as their official photographer, I did not hesitate.
Having sacrificed the Fall semester to cover the solar-car race from Darwin to Adelaide, I decided to remain in Australia for several months of working in Melbourne and then traveling. I returned to Michigan having decided to attempt turning my passion for travel and photography into a profession. Soon I was shooting and writing for the Ann Arbor Observer, Michigan Today and photographing local events and people. When garnered with sufficient funds and downtime I'd either road-trip or fly off to roam around Mexico and Central America with my camera covering such events as Day of the Dead observances in the Lake Janitzio region and the Zapatista peasant uprising in Chiapas.
Having never formally studied photography and the art of marketing, I found myself stymied as to how to breakout of my local beat. So with a car packed with camping equipment, a bag of camera gear and a typewriter I began a solo road-trip west in June of 1995. After visiting many National Parks and Monuments I pulled into San Fransisco where I settled for some three-months, first housing in hostels and then with a group of Irish over on temporary work visas. We explored the city, road-tripped around the southwest and I researched, conducted interviews, photographed and got a few features published. By October my Irish friends had all left for home and I continued my journey, first north to Seattle then eastward back to Michigan by way of more National Parks and Monuments.
Once home I dived back into work, earning enough to afford following-through on invitations from my Irish friends who all lived in the Dublin metropolitan area. The 30th of December saw me on a flight to Dublin to join my friends for New Years Eve 1996. I remained until April, hanging with them on the weekends and roaming around Ireland alone while they studied or worked. Leaving was difficult as a romantic relationship begun in San Fransisco only deepened with time together in Ireland and neither of us nor our friends were keen to see it end...and, it hasn't.
Charlie joined me in Michigan for the entire summer. I continued photographing and writing for local press, delivering pizza to boost my earnings, and, we began discussing how I might attempt a viable relocation to Ireland. During autumn I visited New York City and Washington DC cold-calling photo-editors at newspapers, magazines and photojournalist agencies to request an opportunity to present my portfolio as I soon planned to relocate to Ireland where I'd be available to shoot assignments, and, more importantly to them, cover "The Troubles" (the low-level sectarian war) in Northern Ireland.