MeI had an interest in photography from an early age and set up my first home darkroom in 1978. The first enlargement I made was of my grandfather holding his first great-grandchild (my nephew, right). Although far from perfect, it still looks as good today as it did then. But I put it all away to go to engineering school later that year and never gave it another thought.

In the early nineties, when I began to tire of engineering, I started supporting artists and musicians through purchasing art and contributing money to the production of seven-inch, vinyl records. Then in 1994 it dawned on me that I should just quit and support my own art, in this case, black and white photography. I took a typical black & white photo course with an instructor who later became a mentor (and is still my friend) and flew off to Europe to celebrate my new direction.

While in Amsterdam I came across Ansel Adams’ book The Negative and started reading it on the train to Zurich a day or two later. There was a young couple sitting across the aisle and when the woman started laughing I looked up to see that her boyfriend was reading Das Negativ, the same book in German. We all had a good laugh, but for some reason no one made a photograph of the scene. Absolute beginners were we.


Anyway, I returned home and I started working as a freelance, photographer’s assistant, so I could learn from established photographers and write-off equipment purchases. I used to love going to the used camera and equipment sales that were held every month in Atlanta. Of course, I also started shooting film and got myself into the darkroom.

After two years of working with black and white film, I read The Negative again. This time, after having real, hands-on experience, I understood what Ansel Adams was talking about and set off to create great negatives. I was never really interested in what Adams was photographing but I recognized how great he was at processing negatives and making prints. That is what I wanted to emulate. I never really wanted to study other photographers either, as I didn’t want to make their photographs. I just went out and shot the pictures I wanted to shoot. It was only later, after several people mentioned that I must have been influenced by Walker Evans, that I went and looked at his work. It was then that I realized I really was a photographer.