5 years…

5 years ago to this day I started this crazy journey as a full-time freelance photographer.  It’s hard for me to believe that I have made it this far, and I am humbled at the amount of support that I have had with friends, family, and those in the photo community, on top of the number of clients that have continued to call over the last 5 years when they needed something.  Thank you so much to everyone here who has continued to read the blog as well. The blog has been non-existent for over the last two months partially because I’ve been busy shooting, and mainly because my web team incredible wife Shannon has been figuring out how to put all the old content into the new website layout with minimal heartburn.  I could do nothing without her and I am VERY excited about the new look coming very soon. That’s right that means there is a NEW WEBSITE and BLOG on the way!  Before that though, I’ll try to keep this post relatively short, and please do not take anything written here as bragging in any way as that’s not what this post is for.  I just think that 5 years in this crazy industry as a self employed individual is pretty cool, and I want to write about about *some* of the cool stuff I have been able to do and maybe one or two things you might have seen without knowing it was mine.  That said, let’s get started.

(Nikon D500, 800ISO, Tamron 100-400F4.5-6.3Vi DC@400mm. 1/1000th@F8)

We’ll start here in 2018 where I accompanied Roberts Camera out to Goose Pond for their yearly Sandhill Crane Workshop.  The workshop was sponsored by Tamron, who brought a ton of lenses out for everybody to try out.  I was there helping with camera settings and driving some of the attendees around from place to place.  I shot the image above with the Tamron 100-400F4.5-6.3 Di VC toward the end of the day on my D500.  I was hoping to get an opportunity a little closer to the birds, but it didn’t’ work out that way and this was my takeaway frame from the event.  I didn’t shoot much as I was there to help out and have it printed 20×30 on Metal at home and its easily one of my favorite bird photos that I’ve taken.

(Nikon D850, 64ISO, Sigma 35mmF1.4, 1/320th@F2. NEW Elinchrom ELB500TTL on a Kupo C Stand and Mini Boom with the Elinchrom 39″ Deep Octa above the camera, Elinchrom ELB500 with a 30 degree grid to camera left behind Amanda and Tyra, and a Phottix Indra 500 with a 30 degree grid to camera right, also behind Amanda and Tyra. All lights controlled by Phottix ODIN2 on the Camera hot shoe.)

In the last 5 years, I have also started to do a bit of work for Indiana University down in Bloomington Indiana.  This particular photoshoot was for the Indiana University Alumni Association, and I was able to use the NEW at the time Elinchrom ELB500 strobes to shoot it in Assembly Hall.  It was a very quick shoot so I had to be set up ahead of time to get a few different shots and looks very quickly, but the combination of the Elinchrom ELB500 and my Phottix Indra500s was unbeatable.  Three big setups, the shoot was done in 45 minutes and was the cover of the Summer issue of the magazine.  Doesn’t matter how much I shoot, seeing my work in print never gets old.

(Nikon D750, 8000ISO, Nikon 24-70F2.8N@48mm. 1/1250@F4, Camera attached to the railing of the IUPUI Natatorium with a Manfrotto Superclamp with a camera mount, safety cabled to a second magic arm and the railing. camera triggered by a Pocket Wizard Plus III from the hot shoe of my Nikon D5.)


Speaking of seeing your work, also over the last 5 years I have had the privilege of working with Team USA Diving at a few of their events.  Such a cool organization and the divers have always been world class as both athletes and people.  They have always been gracious as it comes to photos, and Team USA Diving also posts a ton of stuff on their Instagram, while also giving photo credits; which generally is unheard of anymore.  Diving is such an incredible sport to photograph as well as watch, much like gymnastics in my opinion.  The amount of physical skill, coordination and timing is incredible! The shot above was something I had considered since the first time I had shot with Team USA Diving.  It is a multiple exposure assembled in photoshop since my D750 will only allow 3 shots to be layered over each other in camera.


(Nikon D5, 100ISO, Nikon 24-70F2.8N@48mm. 1/125th@F11. Phottix Indra500 Over the top of the Harley thanks to a Kupo C Stand with Mini Boom, with a 60″ square softbox on it. Phottix Indra 500 with a 100cm Strip box to the behind right of the Bike. A single Phottix Mitros+ set to 1/2 power bare bulb on the ground behind the bike for a bit o separation. 4 20×30″ white fill boards held by my assistant Joe around the front of the bike. All lights controlled and fired by my Phottix ODIN2).

Going a little further back even, in 2016 I was asked to photograph a new motorcycle for Harley Davidson.  This was the first NEW Harley Davidson Flat Track racer in 44 years.  It was actually a last minute call from a friend of mine who double booked himself.  I happened to be in the area, I happened to have an assistant with me. The photos got quite a bit of play actually and boy was that exciting.  Jalopnik, Cycle World, and even Harley Davidsons Website had them for some time.  In fact, if you dig you can still find them scattered about.  The shoot was at Vance and Hines who helped build the thing.  Very cool place to do a shoot, very cool group of people.  Even the guy who wrecked the ONLY other one in existence at the time in the parking lot earlier that week was cool about the hard time everyone (including us) was giving him.


(Nikon D800, 100ISO, Nikon 70-200F2.8V2@150mm. 1/200th@F3.2. Paul C Buff Einstein with a 60″ square softbox to above right of the camera triggered by a Pocket Wizard on the camera Hot Shoe.)

In 2014 and 2015 I had the opportunity to help Herff Jones redo some of their marketing materials.  If you went to school in the midwest (high school or College) chances are you have heard of Herff Jones.  They are the whose who of gowns, class rings, and all things graduation related.  We had intended to only do only one shoot, however as I recall there were several things that needed to be done ASAP and we were required to shoot one day in the fall of 2014, and then 2 days in the Spring of 2015.  It was a fantastic experience, and you can still find my photos scattered all around their website, and marketing materials even now years later.  It’s always great to see some life come out of your photos.


(Nikon D4, 5000ISO, Nikon 70-200F2.8VR2@70mm. 1/800th@F4.)

One of the very first things I did straight out of the newspaper was a sporting event.  The Return of Derrick Rose.  Dude has had almost as many “Return to Glory” campaigns as Notre Dame.  This was a pre-season game of the Bulls vs the Pacers in 2013.  This was the ONLY pre-season game I have ever been to that was set up like a playoff game in terms of the media area, because of how much press was expected.   I shot the assignment for USA Today Sports, and they kept asking for more and more shots of Rose in action, however, he only played a chunk of the first half so what they got is what they got…. Can’t win em all I guess, but pretty cool to say I was there for this moment in history.  (History being his return from an injured ACL in 2012, and then his right meniscus after I shot this).  

(Tools from another life….. need to be cleaned…Nikon D850, 31ISO, Sigma 24-70F2.8ART@70mm. 30 seconds@F22. 3 seconds of white light on the 6 iron, Focus rolled to infinity, and then 15 seconds of green light on the other clubs with 8 seconds of red light on the background. Camera held in place with a Benro C48XL tripod with a Manfrotto Ball head)

And now we swing back around to recently where this year I also had the privilege of driving Dave Black around for a few days during the Roberts Camera EDU Expo here in Indy. Dave has always been one of my Photo Heroes so this was quite an honor.  Dave loves to Light paint and I have started to do more of it over the last year as well, obviously not including the light painting workshops I already do with Roberts camera every year.  The above is just an example of something shot in my basement on top of a tool chest one afternoon. Any space can be useful when you start with a blank canvas!

Some of these things I’ve written about before, and some things I have not.  This is only a small fraction of the things I have been up to over the last years, but I promised to keep the post relatively short.  Usually, I do a recap every year toward the end of December to give an idea as to what I have been working on during each particular year.  You can always feel free obviously to check out those since they are a bit more in depth.  I wrote one for 2017, 2016, 2015, and 2014.  My blog goes all the way back to 2009, but I only started doing the yearly recap in 2014.  You can also always follow my progress on my Instagram, or my facebook page as well if it suits you.  If not, that’s fine, but just throwing it out there.  Here is to at least another 5 years and maybe more.  Thank you to everyone who has read the blog, whether for gear reviews or just random posts and supported me in some way.  It’s truly humbling to think of all that has happened in the last 5 years and I am very excited about things coming down the pipe toward the future.  I also want to say thanks to some of the folks in the photo industry like those at Roberts Camera, The Mac GroupSigma Photo, Phottix, and Elinchrom.  Each of you has put a little faith in me at one point or another, whether sending me loaner equipment for my opinion or sponsoring a workshop I’ve taught.  I really appreciate it.  Thank you.  Above and beyond all of that though, extra thanks to my incredible wife Shannon who I could do none of this without.  She encouraged me to tackle the unemployed Freelance life, and I would like to think I have come out better for it.  She is my rock and I Love her more than words can express.  Thank you again, and more soon.