I recently had the opportunity to attend a two day photography conference in Orlando, Florida. I left super early in the morning to drive down and was making my way through Jacksonville at around 6am. As I do pretty much every time I cross the St. John’s River on I-95, I glanced over to take a look at the Florida Times Union building. That building always brings up some very good, and not so good, memories. In February 2005, while I was the Sport Photographer at the Savannah Morning News, I was invited to Jacksonville to help the Times Union with their coverage of Super Bowl XXXIX. It was a pretty tough weekend for me due to some circumstances beyond my control and some not so great choices that I’d made the night before the game. I beat myself up for a long time after the game because I had a desire to do more with my career and that was a taste of the big time.
As I was thinking back on that time and where I was in my life I began to reflect on my life today. Back then I would have never envisioned the life that I have been blessed with today! For one, I was a “serious photojournalist.” At that time I thought wedding photography was fine for making money, but it wasn’t as important as newspaper work. I’d never had that life experience of having my own wedding, so I dismissed it and didn’t give it much respect back then. I spent most of my time in those days working, partying, and complaining.
Today’s me would’ve never gotten along with that guy! I was given a lot of opportunity during my career, and I was able to win a few awards along the way. I photographed foreign dignitaries, President Obama on two occasions, and some very happy and emotional moments. I learned a lot about people and a whole lot about myself.
In 2008, my life changed for the better. I finally hit rock bottom and made some choices that put me on the right path. A year later, in 2009, when I met the lovely Rebecca, my life changed forever. Early in our relationship Rebecca asked if I ever photographed weddings and my answer was a solid NO! I thought- I’m a photojournalist and I document important life stories. A bit later in our relationship, there I was, standing on the beach at Tybee Island, in my wedding suit awaiting the arrival of my bride. As I watched her being escorted toward me by her father, I knew that this was one of the most important days of my life. A new chapter in our story was beginning that day. As I experienced our wedding day, I realized that this is what matters. Times like these are the most important life events you can ever document.
From that moment on I put more focus into documenting weddings. I had a different perspective and I began to cherish each wedding that I experienced. It’s like I’m reliving my own wedding day over and over again through the emotions of those I am documenting. That’s why I absolutely LOVE what I do! I cannot imagine doing anything else today. In 2014, we made the decision that I would quit my job at the newspaper one month before our son was due, and I was scared. I knew that it was the right choice to focus on my own business, but there was a lot of uncertainty. Through God’s grace and a whole lot of support from Rebecca I know that today I can continue to challenge myself and grow as a husband, a father, and a photographer.