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My first memory of photography was my father taking artistic photos with his Polaroid.
I studied painting and drawing through my college years. Years later I bought a box of vintage photos to use as collage materials in my paintings, going on to take photo classes to create imagery to collage into paintings. I fell in love with photography.
I bought my first camera in the late 1990s and enrolled in a photography night courses, going on to build enough of a portfolio to study photojournalism in New York. I quit my day job, plunged into poverty, and went “all in” with photography with no plan B. I never looked back.
Shooting high school sports was my first job after the photojournalism course. I learned to shoot quickly and capture the right moments.
The assignment that left the biggest mark on me was documenting soap opera production in Egypt leading up to the holy month of Ramadan. The Arabic word for a television series kept coming back to me. After realising that no one had covered this story, I secured a magazine assignment. Using my Arabic skills I was able to prepare the ground before a trip to Cairo. This story gave me the confidence to know that I had good ideas.
Spending some time and feeling free to use my artistic vision - those are the assignments I like the best. I also love any story that delves into a quirky, somewhat unknown aspect of culture.
When I take pictures I think about an international audience that’s probably unfamiliar with the subjects I shoot. I also think about a visually literate audience that appreciates challenging images.
My biggest lessons have been to be kind to people, to stay in the photographic mindset no matter what - and to go, go, go for that emotional moment.