I destroyed my knee in early-2010 in a glorious church-league basketball game. I was on a fast break and only had one guy to beat, and when I dropped a crossover on him, cutting from left to right, my left leg decided to just bend sideways for no good reason. ACL, check. MCL, check. Meniscus, check. My teammates thought I was joking because of the theatrical nature of my response, pounding on the floor and yelling something to the effect of, “OH THAT IS NOT GOOD!” When my first teammate made it over to me, he said, “What does it feel like?” “A $1,500 deductible,” I replied. He cracked up, also thinking I was hamming it up. My wife drove me to the hospital and, sure enough, I wasn’t joking. A few weeks later I had surgery and was laid up for about two weeks.
During that time, I was supposed to shoot my first paying gig; a Sweet 16 party for a family from our church. I couldn’t make it, so my wife filled in. She’s naturally a better photographer than me, so it worked. After that, we started getting a lot of paid work locally. Families, sports, babies, senior portraits, you name it. Then we started getting calls about shooting weddings. We were both working full-time at our church and didn’t have kids at the time, so it seemed like a good chance to make some extra money. It didn’t take long for us to start getting weddings in surrounding states, Texas, even Mexico. It was great getting to be a part of so many different families’ most significant day in their life, but I can’t say that I ever really loved it. I never dreaded those shoots, but I don’t remember ever having trouble going to sleep the night before because I was so excited to do them, either. They were just, well, fine for me.
We lived that life for about two years and decided we’d like to start growing our family. We had our first daughter, Shiloh, in October 2012. I was ordained as a pastor at our church that same year and took on more of a leadership role, so my camera was relegated to what got me into photography in the first place: fly fishing. It was around that time that I started intentionally planning sporting photo shoots. I’d pick a location, ask a friend/local expert to be my photo subject, make a detailed shot list, and go for it.
One of the first ones that I did was on the incredible Flint River in Middle Georgia. It is such an amazing stretch of water. It starts life as a bubbling spring near the Delta maintenance hangar at the world’s busiest airport, Hartsfield-Jackson-Crosby-Stills-Nash International Airport in Atlanta, and winds its way southwest until it meets up with the Chattahoochee River at Lake Seminole on the Georgia-Alabama-Florida borders. My friend Kent Edmonds of Fly Fish GA let me tag along with him on a beautiful piece of the Flint, and what an amazing day it was. I was shooting photos and fishing, which I rarely do now (I do one or the other now, but rarely try to do both as I typically end up doing neither well), and I landed around 25-30 shoal bass and also had enough images to put together a full photo essay for Sporting Classics Magazine. That photo essay helped me to start learning how to really tell a story through a handful of images, and each and every time I have that type of shoot - which is several days a month now - I can’t sleep the night before. I just love it.
Next time I’ll give the short version of how I started in commercial photography. Thanks for stopping by.