When I was 7 years old, I fell in love with taking pictures. My family and I were in Washington DC, and everywhere I turned, I saw people with cameras up to their faces capturing things that enthralled them. They were preserving individual moments in time that could be savored forever. I thought it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. After my typical 7 year old bitching and moaning with a temper tantrum mixed in, my parents finally shut me up with a toy camera, purchased from a street vendor…. for $1.00. No, it didn’t produce photographs, but it gave me a chance to see the world through a viewfinder for the first time. It’s something that’s stayed with me since.
When I turned 16, I decided that my interest in photography wasn’t just a phase, but was turning into a passion. I had no delusions that a career in photography was ahead, but one never knows….and it was certainly time for a real camera. The only camera I had in mind was a Nikon. It’s brand recognition and it’s association with excellence was way beyond my budget, but I saved for quite a while. With the help of my dad, we ventured into Willoughby’s in Manhattan and splurged on a Nikon FE, a 50 1.4, and a few rolls of Tri-x film. I was hooked. Of course, I was clueless and terrible, but as Henri Cartier-Bresson said, “your first 10,000 photographs are your worst”.
I’ve been a Nikon shooter now for nearly 35 years. I shot 6000 assignments for the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper during a 15 year stay there, and 850 or so weddings since my departure from the Inquirer- all with Nikon equipment. I’ve seen technology evolve, and what it’s allowed me to do. The speed in which the gear has changed could have easily left me in the dust. It nearly did. I fought the digital era tooth and nail. However, once Nikon put a D2XS in my hands, I embraced the technology- rather than become extinct. I’ve used every flagship body since the F3, and today, the D4 and D800’s are part of my everyday workflow along with the latest in Nikkor lenses, speedlights, and accessories.
In 2007, Nikon asked me to put the D3 through it’s paces, and I shot the first wedding in the world with that revolutionary beast. The performance and results were staggering, and it changed the way I approached photography and the way I utilized light. With the D3, it was no longer about the quantity of light that was imperative. It was all about the quality of the light, and the quantity was an afterthought thanks to the high ISO performance of the modern era of Nikon’s camera sensors. Not only was I making pictures I’d never made before, but I was making pictures I never even thought about making before. Our gear allows us to think about imagery, and we can leave the technical elements to our instincts. It’s incredibly liberating not to have to think about the gear we use. That’s what the Nikon gear’s done for me.
In 2005, I began a relationship with Nikon USA speaking at their tradeshow platforms, doing seminars on their behalf, and producing images that demonstrated their products capabilities. I’ve been part of global ad campaigns, and have gotten to meet icons that I only dreamed of meeting. Iconic photographers, such as Bill Eppridge, Joe McNally, Jay Maisel, Bill Frakes, Dave Black, Moose Peterson, and a few others, have inspired me a great deal. However, there was one in particular that was the most responsible for me being a professional photographer.
Throughout my adolescence and into high school, I was a huge fan of rock and roll. I spent many hours in school libraries reading Circus Magazine, Cream Magazine, and Rolling Stone magazine cover to cover. The photographs in those publications blew my mind. “How cool would that be”, I kept repeating to myself- to make a living taking pictures of rock n roll. There was one name that kept popping up in the by-lines…. The one and only Lynn Goldsmith. She was legendary. She was prolific. She was stupid good. Her work excited me. It compelled me to dream about being that good, and made me want to learn the craft. If there were a rock and roll image that caught my eye, I’d look at the name- and sure enough it was Lynn’s.
In October of 2008, I had the honor of speaking at the Nikon tradeshow booth immediately following Lynn Goldsmith at Photoplus East.. The idea of speaking after the most influential photographer in my life was surreal. After watching her presentation, I approached the podium nervous as I’ve ever been, and I introduced myself to Lynn. Meeting Lynn, and speaking with her for a few moments took me back to my middle school library where I only daydreamed about shooting for a living. Of course, when I told Lynn about how she inspired me “when I was a little boy”, she nearly smacked me off the stage. I guess I didn’t think things through very well……Sorry, Lynn.
My Inclusion in the inaugural Nikon Ambassador United States program is one of the most gratifying moments of my 30 year career. After 35 years of shooting the Nikon brand, I’ve developed Nikon hands and Nikkor eyes. It’s an tremendous honor for me to be a part of this program. I’m excited to have been asked to do what Lynn Goldsmith and the others I’ve mentioned did for me. Thank you, Nikon USA, especially Mike Corrado, Bill Pekala, Mark Suban, and a former employee, Anna Marie Baker- who is responsible for my involvement with Nikon to begin with.
Below is Nikon USA’s description of what the program is about. I’m sincerely humbled to be amongst the other Ambassadors in the program. I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes!
Nikon Ambassadors are some of the most talented and influential visual artists working in the business today. These gifted, spirited storytellers go above and beyond most, and are admired for their passion, energy and commitment to their craft. Their investment in, and trust, of the Nikon brand are cornerstones to their image making abilities.
As a loyal partner, a Nikon Ambassadors’ commitment and contributions to the photographic industry throughout their careers have influenced and inspired photographers around the world; while their desire to educate and empower other image-makers around them has become a part of their daily business. From workshops to trade show platforms, online learning and social media; Nikon Ambassadors represent the most versatile and ambitious photographers today and are respected around the globe for their vision and accomplishments.
The dedication to advancing the art of visual storytelling while embracing and mastering the latest technologies and trends in the field are paramount to these photographers being selected as Nikon Ambassadors.
As the top visual storytellers of this era, their advanced techniques, unprecedented creativity and tenacious approach to imaging solutions is demonstrated assignment after assignment, each and every time they pick up a Nikon camera.
Here’s the link for the new Nikon Ambassador United States program