I cut my teeth on editorial and commercial photography projects while working for a lifestyle magazine in Seoul, Korea. I honed my craft working with musicians, chefs, mixologists, artists, pilots, architects, engineers, hoteliers, athletes, brewers, baristas, gardeners, designers, dancers, divers, tattooists, and zombies. I’ve shot them all, and loved every minute of it. My editors encouraged their writers and photographers to take over the asylum from time to time and come up with original concepts; I loved that creative freedom, and faced every assignment as an opportunity to push myself into new territory. I learned quickly how to make people comfortable in front of my camera; a comfortable subject is a happy subject, and a happy subject usually doesn’t complain about the photographer’s ideas. These days I’m comfortable approaching a stranger on the street or a CEO in the boardroom. I’m an easygoing fellow, and I dig being around people.
Plenty of photographers are anxious when it comes to shooting strangers – I get a thrill out of it. Shooting a perfect stranger seems like an easy gig once you’ve had a disgruntled musician throw a lamp at you in a W Hotel suite (though to be fair, I did show up without vodka). Strangers rarely throw lamps. I like that. Even when I’m not shooting portraits, I often look to include a human element in my photos.
Strangeness, difference, identity – these are the elements that make people interesting, and the same reasons why I love photographing people. People tell stories of the places they call home through the face they present to the world, whether these people are working a pad Thai cart in Bangkok, hawking flowers at a Burmese floating market, hanging out on a corner in Cleveland, or tearing apart a hotel room in LA. These stories make every trip an adventure, and when I’ve done my job the right way these stories come to life.