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What does photography mean to you?

Talk about a wide open question! The answer to this changes every year, but lately I’ve been really focused on personal growth, given that the last three years I’ve been grinding night and day toward creative/business growth. At the moment, photography to me is an outlet to take my own mood or emotion, or however I’m feeling at the time, and translate it into a visual record of what’s going on in my head. I do this in two ways: the first is taking the image, and the second is using post-production and my own creativity with color, tone, etc., to bring my feelings or thoughts to life. I’ve been really enjoying posting on Instagram lately, and most of the images on there from the past few months are in some way a reflection of myself. It’s been a really emotionally healthy practice for me, and definitely the most powerful outlet I’ve ever had for a quick escape from reality. We all need that sometimes.

 

How did you get started in photography?

In the spring of 2014 I started at Resource Magazine as a writing intern. I studied journalism at Purchase College, and was the managing editor of the campus music and arts magazine, The Beat. I knew literally nothing about photography before I started working for Resource—I wanted to be a music journalist. I’ve played and produced music for as far back as I can remember, and had a realization that, given the state of the music industry, the chances of having a successful career as a musician were narrow. I’ve always loved to write, so I thought writing about music was the next best thing.

After my first week at Resource, I saw it less as a stepping stone as a journalist and more of an opportunity to explore other areas of creativity. Our CEO, Alexandra Niki, is an amazing and inspiring woman, who’s really nurtured my growth in both creativity and the industry over the years. However, there was one defining moment: I was at my parent’s house in Upstate, NY, and noticed a turkey in the backyard. I picked up a Canon T3, which I had got for Christmas a couple years before, and army crawled on my stomach until I get could close enough to get the shot without it flying away. I remember my mother came home and noticed this out the window. She said something like, “What did you say you did last night?” It took me about an hour to get the shot I was happy with—I managed to capture the turkey with a full swing span.

In that time, I had never felt more meditative in my life, as I laid on my stomach, fully focused, and waiting for that perfect moment. There were no thoughts running through mind other than what I could see in my viewfinder. I was hooked after that. And I knew that internship wasn’t a chance encounter, but an opportunity to follow my dreams. I dropped out of college shortly after that and joined Resource full-time.

While taste is subjective – in your opinion, what makes a good photo?

I will always believe that emotion is the main component of a “good” photo, no matter the genre or category of photography. I’ll never fully pass judgement on an image based on an analysis of things like composition, lighting, gear, etc. Any image that can make me feel something, whether it’s a feeling conveyed by the photographer or subject, I would call a “good” photo. But what makes a “great” photo is a totally different story.

What is your fondest photographic memory?

By far, the best and most valuable memory I’ve had in photography was the first Resource cover shoot I worked on with YouTube Filmmaker Casey Neistat. It was shot by David Johnson, who’s now one of our chief photographers. (I highly suggest checking out the work of David and his wife, Natalie Brasington, who’s also a chief photographer for Resource. They’re total rockstars). Technically, I was the “producer” on the shoot, and the writer on the cover story, but in all honestly I had never worked on set before. That day totally flipped my world inside out. It was supposed to be a standard 10-hour day, which turned into about five hours of overtime and one of the best features we’ve created. Afterward, I drove with Casey to his house in New London, CT and had an intense, in-depth three hour interview in the car. I spent the night there, and the next morning we had breakfast at his father’s cafe’. We were still interviewing that morning, up until I boarded the Amtrak back to NYC! I’m glowing just thinking about it. To this day, I’m extremely proud of this story, which is rare, because I generally dislike everything I create. I don’t think I’m very unique in that way.

With so many cameras and other image-making devices available today, more and more people are getting into photography – it can be a little difficult to make one’s work stand out. What advice would you give someone who seriously wants to pursue and succeed in this craft?

The main piece advice I always give is to stop thinking about gear, cameras, and devices all together. Take whatever image-making tool you have, put on some headphones, grab a coffee, and go out and shoot. I think every camera today is a good camera, and it’s nevertheless important to know how to use your restrictions to your advantage. Focus on emotion, on what catches your eye. What’s so beautiful about photography is that there’s no right or wrong way to do it. All that matters is the final image, the story it tells, and the personal connection you have to it. Another less existential, more practical tip I give aspiring photographers is to find someone else’s work that inspires you and learn how to replicate it. In fact, get so good at replicating it, that you can do it over and over and over again until you’re comfortable enough to add your own creativity or twist to it. Find a style or technique you love and learn how to make it your own.

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