2015 was a year of discovery. I discovered it’s hard to live in California making less than minimum wage. I discovered an even deeper passion for music and a new passion for music festivals. I discovered that maybe my career won’t consist of 100% sports after all, and contrary to my previous 24 years on this planet I discovered that I do, in fact, love the beach! 2015 started only four months after being laid off from my wonderful sports job at The Orange County Register. I had been thrown into freelance life for the first time, and it was scary. I spent the summer trying to work the handful of contacts I had in the Los Angeles area knowing full well that the summer is a slow time for most in this business. I was met with enthusiasm for hiring me, but without a breadth of assignments on their end my phone stayed silent. I am, however, lucky to be a naturally positive person. I knew I had to find ways to make money away from the world of sports. I’d like to thank my good friend Lauren Spinelli, and Time Out New York for giving me the opportunity to finally shoot my first music festival by flying me to the opposite corner of the country for GovernorsBall in NYC. With tens of thousands of people frolicking about these events become a sweaty, chaotic mess, but there are real moments in that colorful confusion, and I know I’ve only just scratched the surface. I used to get criticized by professors for only paying attention to the “on-field action” and ignoring everything else that goes on around the game. It’s ironic, then, that I don’t feel the need to focus on the performers/DJs at these festivals. It’s the culture and emotion and energy that the attendees bring that really intrigues me. “It’s not about dance music and lasers…it’s about love.” “When you get a big group like this together there’s always animosity. Always, but not here.” “It’s a burden off your mind once you feel that accepted.” I am going to sound somewhat cliche here, but Electric Forest Festival changed my life. The love and community in that forest is unlike any other place I’ve been or even heard of. The entire venue glows with positivity, art, magic and performers who make you feel like you’re living in a fairytale. It’s a very special place, and while I wasn’t able to legitimately photograph those four incredible days camping under the tall, ever-swaying trees of Michigan’s coast, I certainly will in the coming years. That weekend gave me new light to not only the kind of photographer I want to be, but also the kind of person I want to be. There’s a lot more I would like to say on this topic, but I can’t seem to put it all in to words just yet. Stay tuned, though, for I have already bought my ticket for this year’s fest! Something happened during the last half of 2015 that surprised me: a decent percentage of my income came from not taking pictures. Rather, assisting others taking pictures. To continue my outward growth from sports I started assisting celebrity photographers in Hollywood, and again, it was a whole new world. While my RIT education in advertising prepared me for the technical side of the job it couldn’t prepare me for actually working with celebrities. Although, they’re just people like you and me, right? After Time Out NY connected me with the incredibly talented Robyn Von Swank (who has just returned from a very cool trip to Southeast Asia. Check out her photos on Instagram:@vonswank) I found myself dropping confetti on comedian Sarah Silverman, choking Whitney Cummings (a fun and interesting story), and I even shook hands with three guys coming out of Chipotle who I was later told were members of the band, Weezer. “You didn’t know that was Weezer, did you?” I couldn’t stay away from sports for too long, though, as the other way I’ve been making money from other people’s photographs has been from working as an on-site editor for the Anaheim Ducks (and more recently with the LA Kings as well). When I say I couldn’t stay away from sports, I really just meant hockey! As an editor I take the team photographer’s images after each period and edit down to a group of selects. Then tone in Photoshop, give them all a neat caption, and quickly send them off to gettyimages.com where they get posted instantly. It has been a very cool way for me to get my name in the heads of LA’s best sports photographers once again. I continue to take freelance assignments from the Orange County Register that range from the LA Angels and Friday Night Lights football games to Veteran’s Day events and local 5k races. Sometimes not the most exciting assignments, but those are the times when I say to myself, “I’m here to make the best picture I can, so let’s find it!” These are my favorite photos from the year that I believe also display the range of subjects that wandering in front of my camera. Happy 2016!
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