My story as an artist, filmmaker, author, and storyteller began in the early 80s– when after graduating from Brooks Institute of Photography, I opened my first studio in Las Vegas, Nevada. A mod space constructed from the remains of a 3000-square-foot citrus warehouse. It was there my artistic, technical, and narrative roots formed as I worked non-stop producing, photographing, and directing projects ranging from nightlife to leisure, portraiture to lifestyle, wild animals to intricate special effects, entertainment to advertising.
I was in my mid-twenties, young, evolving, and thirsty for experience. A fresh set of eyes in a city full of energy as my business grew faster than imaginable. Not ready for the degree of success that came my way, I lived fast and fell hard.
It was a decade in which I grew up through experiences too numerous to share in this biography. Bright and dark memories that to this day are subtext to the value I place on humanity, respect for varied lifestyles, and the importance of intellectual, emotional, spiritual, and artistic integrity.
In my thirties, as the Las Vegas chapter hit its pinnacle, I faced a creative, spiritual, and emotional Do-or-Die. Hungry for professional and personal growth; and driven by the weight of a struggling relationship, career pressure and family dysfunction, I decided to close my Las Vegas studio to travel to the cities of Europe. It was an uncharted time where I exchanged security, familiarity, and predictability to follow a vagabond existence. A spontaneous chapter, as living out of a backpack and rolling suitcase, I trekked through diverse languages, customs, and cityscapes. A week-by-week schedule of country-connecting train rides and hostel stays where I survived on cash pulled out of a hidden money belt. Life-change to its fullest as each day, and with my entire livelihood wrapped around my waist, I leaned over the edge of financial ruin. A risk that, in the end, left me homeless and stripped to a humbled reflection of myself.
From homelessness, and with my last $1,100 in my pocket, my car chased by the repossessor, and the offer of a friend’s floor to sleep on, I moved to Los Angeles – The 90s were upon me.
Back to the beginnings I was, and it was not a quick journey. Eventually, I rebuilt myself and my business took off. I became a husband, father, and homeowner. All seemed well. But as the 2008 recession hit, the painful truth of financial and housing insecurity pressed down on my shoulders. However this time, it was not of my choosing. I was a dad. The grown-up, the responsible one – the provider – and, as I looked into the eyes of my then-8-year-old child, homelessnesses was not an option! I pushed harder.
2 years of long days, exhausting nights, and poverty living as I searched for work. But as packaged and prepared as I was, it seemed the more I muscled down, the taller the walls grew.
On September 9, 2011, it all changed, when as my resources hit rock bottom, I submitted to a personal challenge. An exercise in faith, as turning my energy away from my burdens, I instead chose to focus on the world around me – and even more impactful, the people I passed each day – no matter where I was.
I titled it Project 365 (indicating a one-year commitment): A daily blog in which I essayed about the experience of approaching absolute strangers, the lessons they taught me, and the observations I absorbed. A challenge where for 365 consecutive days(actually 366, it was a leap year), I missed no days as by 4 P.M each day, I published the outlooks and story of meeting people I did not know. It was the purest commitment and, no matter what was going on in the world, how I felt, the obstacles I faced, or where I was, I missed no days. In the end, posting over 500 essays, portraits, videos, and global interactions featuring not only my journey, but offering a window to the hopes, hurts, and wisdom of diverse individuals from around the globe. And as the project was featured by WordPress as one of the top 10 daily blogs to follow, a profound and far-reaching call to action emerged. In that, as tens of thousands took notice, a worldwide community grew. People from most corners of the planet who, through the stories, photographs, and challenges of Project 365, shared perspectives and actions as they became participants in a real-time dialogue – and, as more and more were touched by and reacted to the blog, a movement was born. Per me, “the provider dad”, well, it all worked out. Funny how when you serve others, you receive clarity on taking better care of yourself.
I am a firm believer that less is more – and although I work in the complexity of photo-narrative projects, writing, speaking, filmmaking, and podcasting – I stand true to a plain and modest purpose: To craft thoughtful works that stimulate deep consideration of what might be in the heart and mind of others; the worth of what we each have to offer; how valuable we each are; and appreciation for how far any one person’s impact can reach.
In all, I strive to tell stories, produce media, art, and outreach that resonates with what individuals and society are going through now. I also facilitate awareness of the footprint we are leaving for future generations to model.
I love the fact that I was born in this little gap between Baby Boomers and Gen Xers. I remember fax machines, record player needles, Betacam video, 4-hour messengers, eight-track tape, Liberachi, Elvis Presley at the Las Vegas Hilton, and Twisted Sister on MTV. I’m also young enough to have lived on the leading edge of new technology, communication streams, and processes. Per culture, society, politics, travel, relationships, and world events? Let’s just say, I’ve witnessed, done, and felt a lot.
When I am not working on assignments or outreach, you’ll most likely find me sharing what I can to make others laugh (or express a heartfelt tear) with a life-found story. Or doing my favorite thing of all. Spending time with my wife, daughter, and two dysfunctional dogs (yep, I’m a pretty straightforward person).
SPEAKING | KEYNOTES | LECTURES
2020 – 2021: (Podcast Host) Sidewalk Ghosts
2020: (Speaker) Sidewalk Ghosts, Los Angeles Visitors Center
2019: (Speaker) Sidewalk Ghosts, Los Angeles Visitors Center
2017: (Speaker) Disconnect to Reconnect, Operation-365 Get Together, Pasadena, CA
2016: Adjunct Professor, Santa Monica College
2014: (Keynote) Fame Expo, Pasadena, CA
2014: (Speaker) Creative Integrity, Fame Expo, Pasadena, CA
2012: (Lecture) The Business of Photography & Production, Brigham Young University, Off-Campus Studio Tour
2012: (Lecturer | Trainer) Developed and instructed a field photography and motion picture training and certification course for the Joint Prisoner of War / Missing in Action Accounting Command (JPAC), United States Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Pearl Harbor
2012: (Keynote) COMPAS, Ohio State University
2011: (Lecturer | Trainer) Developed and instructed a field photography and motion picture training and certification course for the Joint Prisoner of War / Missing in Action Accounting Command (JPAC), United States Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Pearl Harbor
2011: (Lecturer | Workshop) Photo Get-Togethers, Red Gum Studios, Irvine, CA
2010: (Speaker) Creative Integrity, Cypress College
2007: (Speaker) Portraiture, Santa Monica College
2006: (Speaker) The Art of Moving Pictures, Brooks Institute
2006: (Speaker) Sponsored by American Photographic Artists, Santa Monica College
2006: (Keynote) Creative Integrity, Corbis, Los Angeles
2006: (Graduation Address) Honorary Masters Degree, Brooks Institute
2005: (Speaker) Sponsored by American Photographic Artists, Santa Monica College
2005: (Speaker) An Emotional Portrait, Brooks Institute
2005: (Speaker) Sponsored by American Photographic Artists,” Santa Monica College
2004: (Lecture) The Business of Photography & Production, Brigham Young University, Off-Campus Studio Tour
1997: (Lecture) Development, Platt Institute, Los Angeles
1997: (Lecture) Creativity, Otis Parson School of Design, Los Angeles
1994: (Lecture) Reprographics, Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA
INTERVIEWS | ARTICLES | APPEARANCES
2021: (Podcast) “Artivism Now” with Kyle Roman
2020: (Interview) Shoutout LA Magazine
2020: (Interview) Artaholics Magazine
2018: (Radio) “Operation-365,” KROQ Openline with Meghan Holiday
2017: (Radio) “Operation-365,” KROQ Openline with Meghan Holiday
2014: (Radio) “Operation-365,” DIY with Karl Champley
2013: (Radio) “Views of People and Creativity,” Beauty Talk, Denise and Janice Tunnell
2013: (Interview) Pepperdine Magazine, Pepperdine
2011-2012: (Essays) “Street Interviews of Strangers,” Over 500 written for Project 365 / Sidewalk Ghosts Blog
2005: (Author) “How To Produce A Successful Ad Campaign,” Digital Imaging Techniques
2000: (Author) “Setting The Tone,” Petersen’s Photographic
1996: (Author) “Emulsion Transfer,” Popular Photography
1996: (Interview) The Telegraph, VCG-Getty Images, London, England
1987: (Author) “Fluorescent Landscapes,” Petersen’s Photographic
1986: (Interview) Las Vegas Magazine
EXHIBITS | FEATURED
2021: (Featured) Portaits – Whimsical Magazine, Paris, France
2020: (Group Exhibition) Bent Colour – James, International Color Awards
2020: (Group Exhibition) Bent Colour – Hidden, International Color Awards
2019: (Featured) Inbetween and Work, from Heal, Spotlight Magazine, Lyon, France
University, Malibu, CA
2010: (Solo Exhibition) 24 Portraits, Cypress College
1990: (Solo Exhibition) The Look, Balcar Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
1987: (Published) Alcatraz, PBS
1985: (Group Exhibition) Alcatraz, Meadows Gallery, Las Vegas, NV
AWARDS | JUDGING | HONORS
2021: (Award) Still LIfe, In•an•i•mate åbjekts, Nominee, International Color Awards
2020: (Award) Portrait, Bent Colour – James, Honorable Mention, International Color Awards
2020: (Award) Fashion, Bent Colour – Hidden, Nominee, International Color Awards
2020: (Recognition of Honor) Luxembourg Art Prize
2020: (Award) Still Life – Rubbish, Nominee, Spider Awards
2018: (Award) Freedmen’s Bureau, Documentary, Silver Anvil, P.R Society of America
2018: (Special Screening) The Village, Los Angeles Temple Visitors Center
2012: (Judge) COMPAS, Ohio State University
2012: (Award) Top Ten 365-Day Blogs to Follow, WordPress
2013: (Judge) Russell Egnor Media Awards, Department of the Navy
2007: (Board of Reviewers) Graduating Class, Cal. State Northridge
2006: (Board of Reviewers) Graduating Class, Brooks Institute
2005: (VP, National Board of Directors) American Photographic Artists
2004: (Board of Reviewers) Graduating Class, Brooks Institute
2003: (Board of Directors) American Photographic Artists–Los Angeles Chapter
1999: (Board of Reviewers) Graphic Design, Otis Parson School of Design
1988: (Founding Board of Directors) Las Vegas Art Directors Club
1987: (Charter Board of Directors) Advertising Photographers of America, Las Vegas
1985: (Award) Best of Show for Alcatraz Cellblock, Kodak Gallery
SOME OF THOSE I’VE COLLABORATED WITH
Nikon, Verizon, Publicis, Panasonic, PepsiCo, BBDO, Nestlé, Toyota, Ohio State University, Disney, Brigham Young University (BYU), Botox, Johnson & Johnson, Ogilvy, Abbott Laboratories, Art Center School of Design, 20th Century Fox, Faith Counts, California State University Northridge (CSUN), Sony Pictures, Suave, Allergan, The Freedmen’s Bureau, CBS/KROQ Radio, Brooks Institute of Photography, Los Angeles Interfaith Council, United States Department of Defense, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Hachette Filipacchi Media, United Airlines, Cygnus Business Media, Cypress College, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, PBS, Corbis, Platt Institute, Playstation, Disney Records, Petersen’s Publishing, Santa Monica College, California Department of Health Services, Getty, Hill & Knowlton, Converse, Subway, Otis Parson School of Design, Southern California Edison, FDA, Heidelberg, Abbott, Florida Department of Health Services, JWT, E-Verify, 24 Hour Fitness, San Diego Gas and Electric (SDGE), Unisource, AltaMed, US Citizenship and Immigration Services, Hilton, Xerox, FairChance, Nevada Division of Tourism, United Health Care, Hertz, Walmart, Bally’s, Cisco, FIAA, Lockheed Martin, Transamerica, UPS, Energy Star, The Richards Group, Pfizer, Proctor & Gamble, FCB, Gillette, Dunlop, RPA, Home Depot, Wells Fargo, Lowe+Partners, Paramount Studios, United States Tennis Association, McCann Worldgroup, AT&T