My Photography Journey

When did your photography journey start? That's a great question. I took my first photography class way back in 1995 at Mass College of Art in Boston. It was promoted as an intro to photography course. Back then when film was still used! I had a Sony my grandmother had given me. I thought it would be a great elective to learn something else beside illustration. Once class started I knew I was in over my head. The teacher and most of the students were already on an intermediate level. I had no clue as to what I was doing. By the end of the semester I wanted nothing to do with photography.

Fast track to the first Canon Digital Rebel making it's entrance into the world and I thought what an exciting opportunity. This would make things so much easier. This would be short lived of course. Other than having the camera on auto for a brief stint in Yellowstone and the Redwoods in 2004 this camera wouldn't see the light of day for another 15 years. Those pictures ended up mostly blurry.

Moving forward to the Covid lockdowns in WA state and I was left wondering what I was going to do now that I couldn't open a bjj gym. Everything I had focused on for jiu jitsu in the previous 8 years was pushed aside. I was struggling to find my compass. I had always taken pictures of the flowers in our garden and our dogs running throughout the yard with my ipad pro but never thought of myself as a photographer. I told my wife I wanted to take up photography. She gave me the wtf look!

We had built up a beautiful garden landscape of flowers at our Maple Valley area home that attracted bees, butterflies and birds. I began by taking photos of the flowers and the insects and then the birds. Lot's of hummingbirds. It was peaceful in a time that was really very tumultuous. I still never thought of myself as a photographer but as time passed I watched Youtube videos and experimented with my first modern day camera, the Canon EOS R. I was trying to fill a void, fill time and make sense of what was going on in the world at that time when everything felt upside down. Our bjj gym was closed, la fitness was closed and all I had was time to kill. My 4 dogs always made sure I had no time to myself!

I had received my black belt in Oct 2019 from Coach James Foster, just before the Covid shutdowns. I was on a high! That high came crashing down in March 2020 when our gym closed and would proceed to go down from there after tearing my ACL training in the garage with some folks. I would be out of bjj for quite some time and I knew it. Meanwhile I continued to educate myself online with photography on a technical level and continued taking pictures. I was really unsure of what the focus of my subject matter would be. I had no direction. I was flailing to find solid ground as to what i wanted to photograph at this point.

Then I discovered animals on a weekend trip to Whidbey Island with my wife. I always knew they were there. After all they are in our yard all the time but this time I discovered them in a different sense other than watching them. I began to study the birds and the squirrels throughout our yard. I began to watch videos online and study other photographers on how they took wildlife pictures. Why were my pictures so bad looking next to theirs? What made those photographers photos stand out? A new passion began. At first I thought this would be a hold over until I could get back to jiu jitsu. Here we are July 2023 and I am still on the sidelines, recovering from major knee surgery. Taking more and more photos as time goes on. Enjoying photography more and more too.

While my jiu jitsu path has been on hold for some time, my discovery for wildlife and sport photography emerged. In 2022 I was pointed in the direction to photograph a local bjj tournament (The Revolution) by my friend Amy Foster (check out her photo website here). She is the wonderful wife of my coach James Foster, a bjj student as well, a fellow photographer and amazing creative. These are some of the most amazing well grounded folks I have ever had the pleasure to be around. They have helped me on my journey for the last 13 years.

Photographing my first bjj event in 2022 has given me considerable insight. Knowing how passionate I am about jiu jitsu has helped me realize whether I photograph an event, competing or I am coaching jiu jitsu I feel so grateful to have found a sport and group of people that can help elevate me and my game. Photographing bjj tournaments has only cemented and grown my passion for the sport and the people. The action is where it is at, the life is where you feel loved by those that love you. For those that know, bjj is a life. Appreciation to all my friends out there and thank you for taking the time to read my quick photog story.

Today I carry around my trusty Canon EOS R5 and several Canon lenses. My favorite being the RF70-200 f/2.8 followed closely by the RF 135mm f/1.8. I use both of these primarily to photograph jiu jitsu tournaments these days. If you have any questions or are looking for a photographer to document your next sporting or live event go ahead and contact me.

Feel free to check out some of my other creative projects on my Behance page.

Here's a link for all of the dedicate jiu jitsu photography