Until 2011, I was based in Washington D.C. for six years, where almost all my assignments were political, with an emphasis on the president and the White House. But since moving to Chicago last year, my coverage has been very diverse, from the presidential campaign, to sports, human interest, and feature stories.
Growing up in the 1970s, my parents owned a Polaroid camera, and took family photos on camping trips and vacations. I loved the anxious anticipation of watching the image come to life. In 2010, my history with this camera came full circle when I did a story on the presidency using a type of Polaroid.
I was a self-taught photographer. I studied accounting at university but I had enjoyed photography as a hobby since I was a teenager. I went to the school of “hard knocks” with a Nikon camera and Kodachrome.
My first assignment didn’t start out as an assignment. It happened after attending a college football game as a student in Canada, when a riot broke out in the parking lot between the fans. I had my camera with me and was the only photographer there. The local paper heard I had some images and I went in with the film and watched them edit, make the prints, and put them on the front page. I was in the right place at the right time with a camera and I just ran into the chaos and made pictures. I was hooked forever.
Up until a few months ago, I would have said the assignment that left the biggest mark on me was the 2008 Presidential election campaign. But in April, I met a mother who has two children with Fragile X, the most common known genetic cause of autism. The family is not famous (nor do they want to be), but they invited me into their lives in hopes of educating people and showing the effect a trial drug is having on them. It was an eye-opening experience for me. They were one of the strongest and most courageous families I have ever meet.
I want people to be able to experience the moments I see. For over 15 years I have been very fortunate to have a front-row seat on some very important stories, and it was very exciting to see and record them. Whether reporting on a presidential campaign, or a human-interest story, I want to create a window for people to stop and see some of the life that is around them every day.
Never be afraid to be different and always shoot the pictures the way you want them to be. That’s been my biggest lesson.
Always aspire to make what you're doing the best that you possibly can - whether it’s a photograph or your personal life, put everything you have into it. Enjoy all those moments life has to offer and bring your camera.
The person I respect most is my wife. A truly wonderful person. She is home alone to raise our daughter more than half of the year while I am away on the road for assignments. She inspires me to be a better father, husband and person every day.