2012 marks my 30th year in professional photography. Now, before you go putting me in the walker, just remember that I’m only 49. I’ve done a bunch of things in photography, and I’ve had some phenomenal opportunities. However, I really believe the biggest honor of my career has been the privilege of being involved with the Nikon Corporation. I’ve been shooting Nikon since 1978 when I first bought an FE. In 2005, Nikon USA gave me an opportunity to speak for them in NYC at their tradeshow booth at Photoplus. Nervous wont even come close to describing the unsettled feeling I had before I went on that podium. Since that conference, my relationship with Nikon has grown tremendously, and the feeling of pride and honor has only magnified. Many of the other Nikon professionals are literally icons in our field. Just to be on the same platform as them is humbling.

I have to share a quick story about all of this. Let me take you back to my middle school years. I was a huge fan of Rock n Roll growing up. Some would call this “old white guy music”. So be it. Every chance I had, I would thumb through Circus magazine, Rolling Stone, and any other Rock N Roll publication I could get my hands on. The photographs in those magazines were so incredibly compelling to me. I fantasized about making pictures like that. I’d say to myself “how cool would that be… to take photos like that”. Well, most of the images I loved so much were shot by the one and only Lynn Goldsmith. It was Lynn who lit a fire under me, and sparked my passion for photography. I can honestly say that I’m a photographer today because of Lynn, and her amazing work.

Jump to 2008(no need to mention the years I was in middle school). When I learned that I’d be speaking for Nikon USA at Photoplus in NYC with Lynn Goldsmith, it was one of the most rewarding moments of my 30 year professional life. I was scheduled to speak right after Lynn. I had rehearsed what I might say to her a few dozen times. I mean, what COULD I say to the person who I felt was responsible for influencing me in such a profound way.. except THANK YOU? Well, I said “Hi Lynn, I’m Cliff. I just want you to know that when I was a kid……” She laughed, stopped me, and then I thought she was going to smack me! We had a nice laugh, spoke for a few minutes, I did my presentation, and spoke a few minutes after that.

Nikon has given me opportunities that I will never take for granted. They’re first class, and each time I work with them, it’s my honor. Tomorrow, Saturday the 14th, I leave for New Orleans to speak for Nikon at Imaging USA. Again, an incredible honor. This time, I get to share a podium with Bill Frakes, Rod Mar, Corey Rich, and my buddy, Nikon’s own Mike Corrado. I’ll have this privilege with some other great people again at WPPI next month. Once again, a huge thank you to the Nikon USA folks for the opportunity.