I bought my first camera in Japan where I lived for two years. I also studied Taoism*, Zen Buddism and practiced Zazen. Studying photography and Zen concurrently was a life changing experience.
Returning home I attended Syracuse University to major in Psychology. Photography was important to me, so I used electives to select courses from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Journalism and the Art School that taught Color and black and white printing techniques. These courses sharpened my skills.
I could not find enough time to use the university darkroom for all my projects, so I set up a home darkroom. I developed my film ( b&w and C-41color ) and printed my photographs on a Beseler 4x5 enlarger. Frank Hoy, one of my professors, encouraged me to change my major to photojournalism. I was close to graduation and had never considered photography as a profession, so I stayed the course. After graduation I became a counselor and used my free time for photography, a hobby, and won awards in local exhibitions
The State University of N.Y. was searching for an Adjunct Professor of Photography at their Tompkins-Cortland Campus. I applied and accepted the part time position. I also became the Director of the PhotoVisions Gallery in Syracuse, N.Y. As director, I was responsible for the curation of eight photography exhibitions during my term of office.
A staff member at the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse had seen my photographs at the gallery and encouraged me to show my portfolio to their Director. After meeting with him it was decided I would exhibit twenty photographs from my new color work that he viewed that day. When the Everson exhibit closed my work was entered into their permanent collection. I was at the "fork in the road" Robert Frost wrote about.
With the success of the Everson exhibit I decided to pursue photography as a full time career and opened a studio. Since I was interested in art and still life photography, I bought a 4x5 view camera with a Schneider 210mm lens and put together a still life portfolio of thirty 4x5 Ektachrome transparencies and then scheduled meetings with local advertising agencies. At the close of my first portfolio review I was awarded an advertising assignment. One of the tranparencies from that assignment was used in a television commercial in New York. I took this as a very positive sign... and proof that I made the right decision in 're-inventing' myself as a professional photographer.
With continued success in advertising photography, I decided to move my family to the rapidly growing business sector of Orange County California. Four months later I opened a studio for product and food photography creating photography for local, national and international clients.** My work was used in television commercials, annual reports, magazine advertising, packaging, brochures, and trade shows. I won awards for my advertising photography from ADDOC (Art Directors and Designers of Orange County) at their annual awards ceremonies.
As a commercial photographer, I continued to show new fine art work, participating in twenty five exhibits in the U.S. and Canada. Now retired, I'm able to devote more time to fine art photography. I'm excited about the new images I've captured recently and even more excited about the ones I'll encounter tomorrow.
*Mushin no Shin (No-Mind), Japanese, is a mind not fixed by thought (language) or emotion and therefore open to anything. Zen and Taoist meditators attempt to reach this state as do artists and trained martial artists. They also practice this mental state during everyday activities. I'm often able to use this state of mind in my photography.
**A Partial Client list:
Allergan, Apple Macintosh, Avis, Beatrice Hunt-Wesson, Bentley Mills, Breyers, Coca Cola, Del Mar Avionics, FireTrac, F.X. Matt Brewing Co., ICN Pharmaceuticals, Ingram Micro, Knudsen, Lawry's, Marathon, Inc., Philips Electronics, Ocean Pacific (Swimwear), Orange Coast Magazine, Quantum Health Resources, Taco Bell, TRW (Northrop Grumman).