Currently the staff photographer/videographer at New York’s oldest newspaper:
Here's an introduction I wrote when I joined the staff of the Poughkeepsie Journal:
The day I stepped into Mrs. Burns’ photography class in September 1996, I knew I had found something special.
You know that feeling when things “click” and the universe seems right? That’s how this class felt. I was applying to colleges, and attempted to convince my parents to let me go to school for photography or photojournalism. But since I was still taking my first photo class, they were concerned I’d spend my life as a starving artist. They did support me, though, buying me camera equipment as holiday gifts, and never discouraged me.
I got an A in that photography class, and as with any new passion, one must find a way to hone in on it. Fine art did not interest me, nor did fashion. I preferred to document life around me. I started carrying a camera with me everywhere and developed my skills.
Fast-forward to my second semester in college. I wandered into The Compass student newspaper at Suffolk County Community College. I started photographing assignments that week. Things “clicked” again. The work I’d produced on my own applied well to photojournalism. I was quickly asked to produce work I had never attempted: events, music, portraits and sports. The following year, I became the photo editor and learned to edit, manage assignments and work with staff to create art for our publication.
After graduating with my bachelor’s degree, I landed a job in a bicycle store. When our out-of-season hours were posted, I realized I needed to make more money. I contacted the local newspaper about freelancing. I was lucky to find a great mentor in my first photo editor. The next few months were hectic, balancing my work schedule and freelance work -- and spending any extra money or time to purchase better equipment and learn how to use it.
For various reasons, I moved home and sought work at the local paper, a considerable step up. I had the audacity to show up on the doorstep, so to speak, and ask for an appointment with a photo editor. I lucked out; someone met with me. Thus I began photographing high school sports on Long Island for several years. As editors saw my abilities, I photographed a broader range of work. Having my photos in the hometown paper finally got my parents to accept this was a true career for me.
Due in part to the recession, I took a full-time job at a photography studio. This lasted six years; I did my best to apply the skills I had learned from newspapers to help improve the work of my studio photographers. Though this paid the bills, I was not passionate about it. In December 2014, an old friend asked me to forward my resume to the Poughkeepsie Journal. A few months later, I got an email asking if I was still interested in the Journal. I was so thrilled to get this message that I didn’t tell anyone for fear of jinxing myself. The phone interview went well; I visited Poughkeepsie and photographed a spot-news assignment. Two weeks later, the call I had been waiting for since I started working in newspapers in 2001 came; the Poughkeepsie Journal wanted to hire me!
My first day at the Poughkeepsie Journal was in April 2015; almost immediately, I felt that “click” again. I am especially thankful for the opportunity to capture life in the Hudson Valley.