I grew up in a small farming town in Marin called Point Reyes Station. It was an interesting mix of old school dairy farmers and ranchers and hippies — members of the Grateful Dead lived close by.
My mother married a Park Ranger and we lived for a few years way out in the country. My closest neighbor was 2 miles away and I had to hike down a mountain for an hour to catch the bus to school, a 45 minute bus ride away. Needless to say I had to hike back up that mountain every day as well. But my first year of high school was worse, I had a 1.5 hour car ride every day to get there and if I missed my ride I would have to hitch hike. My 2nd year of high school we finally moved to the suburbs which made things much easier. I loved growing up in the country though and wasn’t excited to move. Funny how that works, all my friends couldn’t wait to get out of our small home town, and I wanted to stay.
But it turned out I was the only one of my friends to leave. All my old school friends still live in our little home town even now. Towards the end of high school I got seriously into bicycle racing. I raced at elite levels both in mountain bikes and road bikes and even spent a summer at the Olympic training center the same time as Lance Armstrong — just before the 1992 Olympics. I raced for a MTB team sponsored by Diamond Back Bicycles that also had an Italian team. When their Italian team came to the USA they offered to take me on for the season in Italy and around Europe. I started racing MTBs over there, but quickly moved into road racing. I spent two years in Italy with Italian Road Teams, and 2 years in Belgium with Belgian road teams. Eventually I realized I was never going to make it to the highest level at cycling, so I came back to the USA to go back to school.
Fashion photography is a dirty business, and that's exactly why I love it. I've been getting my hands grubby with it ever since I was old enough to hold a camera, point, and shoot.
1986 - The die is cast. This was the year that the goddess Fortuna spun her wheel and my fate as a photographer was sealed. I secured a press pass to the Topeka, Kansas Fashion Show and shot 117 rolls of film in just three hours. When I entered the best of my photos in the chamber of commerce photography exhibit, I won 6 first-place prizes, 27 second-place prizes, and 11 third-place prizes, more than anyone in the history of the competition. As I accepted the prestigious Governor's Award, I knew that this is what I would do for the rest of my life.
1992 - location: finland I was granted the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to study with the greatest underground fashion photographer of the last half century. Immediately, I packed a single bag, booked a one-way ticket to Helsinki, and stayed there for the next 7 years. It wasn't easy, but then nothing worth its salt ever is. I developed my prodigious talent into the finely-honed weapon it is today, and I carry with me the experiences I had and lessons I learned during that time.
Fast forward to 2001 when the world's leading fashion photographers gathered in Helsinki, and I was reunited with my photographer guru to co-conduct a series of fashion photography master classes. It was the most rewarding three weeks of my professional life.