I’m a native Kansan and the luckiest guy on the planet. I’m married to an amazing woman, and we have two great kids. Because of their support, I’m a freelance commercial photographer and get to do work I love on my own terms. I grew up in Abilene (go Cowboys!) and went to school at K-State. I worked in the newspaper business for about 15 years and then had the good fortune to serve as the university photographer for my alma mater. I left to hang out my own shingle in 2015. I prefer to be outside whenever possible. I’m an OK cook (the main reason my wife has kept me around) and try (occasionally successfully) not to take myself too seriously.
Where are you from? Where do you live now? How many years have you been in Kansas?
I grew up in Abilene. I live in Manhattan now. I came here to go to school in the late 1980s. I left for about a year after graduating to work but came back. I’ve lived in Kansas for 46 years.
What was the moment you wanted to be a photographer? How old were you at the time?
I think it was when I was in high school. I worked on the yearbook and newspaper. I had several offers to play football at smaller four-year schools and junior colleges but chose to go to K-State, which had a great reputation for turning out good photographers. I’ve never regretted that choice.
What was your first camera? What did you like about it?
My parents had a Kodak 110 instamatic when I was little. I liked it because it was the only camera I had access to.
If you had to describe your photographic style in terms of a family tree, who is your “mother,” your “father,” and your “brother” or “sister”?
There were many great mentors at K-State, but I would say the one person who inspired me most in my formative college years was Jeff Tuttle—a great Kansas photographer. My mother would be Cheryl May (she was the head of media relations at K-State at the time). She hired me as the university photographer at K-State and gave me a great gift: self-confidence. Brothers and sisters are too many to mention, but I would single out Rod Mikinski. I learned a lot from him when I worked with him at the Manhattan Mercury.
What are some uncommon objects that you like to photograph?
I like to photograph bikes. I love everything about them. I love to ride them. I love to work on them. Unfortunately, it’s kind of tough to carry a bunch of camera gear on a road bike, so I usually use the cell phone. I heard once that the best camera in the world is the one you have with you. So true.
What’s the hardest thing to photograph badly? To photograph well?
I can’t speak for anyone else, but I find food difficult to screw up. People can definitely be a challenge.
If you had to describe your photography in terms of a color wheel, where would you fall on it?
Somewhere in the orange/red area. Love shooting at sunrise and sunset.
Tell us about the shot that got away.
Well, it hasn’t gotten away completely. There’s a power plant in Kansas I want to photograph at night during the middle of winter. It’s still there. I just haven’t gotten to it yet.
Tell us about your best chance photo taken in Kansas. Where was it? How did it come about?
I’m not very good at being complimentary to my own work, but there is one picture that sticks in my mind. I was driving some back roads in western Kansas last year near Scott City and noticed a hawk flying along carrying a packrat it had just caught. I was lucky enough to get a few pictures before it was gone. I love the color (sunset again … ) and the grace of the hawk in flight and the circle of life.
Draw a map of Kansas and pinpoint on it three locations that have significance for you or your career.
Abilene. It’s where I grew up and started playing with a camera.
Manhattan. I went to school at K-State, and that’s really where I got my start at the Collegian newspaper and then later worked at the Manhattan Mercury and K-State.
Hutchinson. That was my first daily newspaper job out of college. I had worked briefly at a weekly paper in Lake Tahoe. It only took me three months to realize I belonged in Kansas. But I’m glad I tried it.
Who would you name as an “Honorary Kansan” for their photography? Why?
Michael Forsberg of Nebraska. He’s a self-described conservation photographer. I never look at his photos without being absolutely stunned.