My beat is wide open. I cover everything from sport to news to feature stories.
I got into photography after suffering a head injury 20 years ago. I had brain surgery and that gave me difficulties communicating verbally, and I had trouble with physical dexterity too. My dad gave me a camera to play with to keep me occupied, and that was really my first experience of photography. It was basically a form of therapy.
I learnt to photograph through a lot of hands-on practice. I began learning in high school, and I attended college for a little while, but most of what I know was learnt in the field. One of my first jobs was as a ski and snowboard photographer, and I also became a reporter for a while. Photography came through trial and error… Lots of errors!
Going to the Burning Man festival twice now has made a huge impact on me. You’re working out there on your own, you have to bring all your own water, all your own food, all your own gear and technology to transmit photos from the desert. You’re surrounded by 60,000 people living in a completely uninhibited way, and you cannot approach the assignment as a journalist in the purest sense. If you’re invited in, you have to participate.
I love American storytelling - stories about people of the West. I’m not a huge fan of sports, or celebrities or anything like that. I prefer to focus on people and find out who they are and try to tell their stories. I like to get in, have some fun, get dirty and actually meet some interesting characters.
I shy away from the term artist, because artists make work about themselves, and I feel like I do my best work when it’s about other people. I have the skills to do a story, but at the end of the day it’s about the people I cover.
You absolutely have to have a strong sense of empathy. You need to be able to put yourself in another person’s shoes before you can even try to tell their story. Compassion, caring and empathy – they’re the most important skills that any journalist should have.
The most inspiring person in my life has been my dad. He is my hero. He gives so much of himself to others and he believes in me. When most people thought I was going to be a vegetable and live in a home for the rest of my life, he believed in me. I have watched his hard work, ethics, and also his compassion for others.
I’m privileged to be able to do what I do. To me it’s an honour to enter into other people’s lives.