Dear Friends and Followers,
As many of you know I announced a few weeks ago that I would be starting on a book. I started that book and then started over and then started over again. I couldn’t write anything that I felt was meaningful, useful, or enjoyable. Today I want to share with you what I did finally decided on. I have a long way to go and plenty of time to get there, but today I want to share with you my first draft of my Prologue.
I want to share this for two reasons.
1. I want this to be the starting point of a great journey that I can one day look back on
2. I want to share the insight of the book in hopes that it will spark interest to encourage you as I always try to do.
Without further ado, my Prologue to “Self Titled”
Well, just like any other story, mine starts the same. My parents met, did the bedroom dance, and nine months later I came into this mad, crazy world. There isn’t much else to say about that, in fact it’s not something I really want to think about. What I will tell you is I was born in a small town in Southwest Virginia called Abingdon. Today Abingdon, Virginia is home to about 8,206 people; I know that number was significantly lower in 1988. Abingdon, Virginia is home to doctors, lawyers, small business owners, retirees, southern culture fanatics, and strong right winged conservatives; I am none of those things. I can’t explain why I don’t enjoy hardly anything about where I live, but I guess something different exists inside me. I just feel like I see the world differently than everyone around me. Even from a young age I had a vivid imagination and a wayward outlook on life. I was always fantasizing and dreaming of limitless possibilities. When I was young, there wasn’t much in terms the Internet, cell phones or tablets, and not a lot of options on cable television. One of my favorite pastime activities was to walk around my lawn with a Sony Walkman cassette player and pretend all kinds of things. Sometimes I would be a Wild West cowboy, sometimes I would be a well-known rock star, and other times I was a superhero. My imagination was vivid and enjoyable. I didn’t have any siblings or hardly ever anyone to play with other than at school, so I learned how to keep my mind busy when I was alone. I suppose being used to being alone at such an early age is what makes me find so much peace in seclusion today.
When growing up, my family never had what most would think is a lot, but we had enough. No one in my immediate family ever went to college or if they did, they didn’t utilize their scholarly ambitions. I was the first in my family to go to college and I never really wanted to go. I wanted to be one of those people who explored the world after high school, but instead I spent nine years in college. I currently hold an Associate of Applied Science in Graphic Design (WooHoo) and again, it took me nine years to get that much accomplished. A mixture of not knowing what I wanted to do, stressful situations, and wanting to prolong my student loan payments is what kept me in school for so long. I kept transferring from one school to another trying to find the right one. When it finally occurred to me which school was the right one, I was two semesters away from my B.F.A. Photography and Digital Imaging Degree, however I couldn’t afford the second semester and the school closed the doors just after it. Being left with nothing, I signed up for another school with high hopes and a lot of promises to only leave with an Associate Degree in Graphic Design. So here I am nine years after high school graduation with a two-year degree, $80,000 in debt, and a clear mind that college isn’t everything.
If I were to say what is most beneficial about college, I would say it’s the people you meet. I met some of the greatest people along the way rather they were professors, students, staff, or visitors. I did get to enjoy a lot of great experiences relative to photography in college as well. I was offered many great assignments where a lot were paid and during that process I began establishing a strong portfolio. I don’t know what I would have done if photography never became a part of my life. I have experienced many rough happenings and photography has become my means of therapy. I tend to be open with a lot of my problems some of the time, however there is a lot I keep in. By taking photos, I can release some of those stressful emotions and also some of the burden. Ironically I recently took a break from photography last year due to depression and my crazy chaotic mind, my love for the art is still strong, but I just can’t do it right now. I used to use my depressive state as a means for creation. Some of my best photos and series were spawned from these depressive states. This year I aim to get back in the saddle and start creating again. I am going to try again to explore my roots in hope to find that burning love once more.
I will never forget the day I knew that photography was going to become a part of my life. To get the full story, we must travel back in time to the year 2007. That year was a rough time for me. I was just nineteen at the time and basically out on my own. I still lived at home with my mother and less than enjoyable “kind-of-sort-of” stepfather, however most of the time I was either at the local community college, working, or spending time with my friends. I didn’t like being at home because I had poor cell phone service, no Internet, and was miles away from everything. A typical day for me was spent at my friend’s house browsing his computer for guitar tabs and people to chat with on MySpace. That is when I would meet yet another girl who would change my life forever, for both good and bad. This girl would not only destroy my confidence and trust in relationships, but also give me the greatest gift I have ever been given, a passion.
When Ally and I were dating, I wanted nothing more than photos of us to have and to share. With a newly acquired credit card (there’s another problem) I went out and bought a decent camera for the time. We went from having little to no pictures too more than what we knew what to do with. As our relationship charged on, things started to get bad. The first three or four months were golden, but between her extremely strict parents, our age gap, and our constant separation, things got nasty. The two of us were exactly three years apart as we shared the same birthday. Me being nineteen and off in college, my outlook on life was slightly different than her sweet sixteen attitude. Now, before anyone starts thinking I was some kind of crazy pedo, I discussed out hanging out and potentially dating with her mother and stepfather prior to actually doing so. If it wasn’t cool with them, I would have respected that choice and moved on, but they gave us the go-ahead. We were both thrilled that they said it was okay, however we probably would have just given up had we known how they would end up treating us. I still don’t know if they treated us so strictly because of her or because of me. I was always a good kid and it kind of hurt to know that someone thought of me as a lesser human being and didn’t trust me (especially after respecting their wishes for months).
Ally wasn’t and still isn’t a terrible girl, she was just young and our viewpoints based upon life experiences were different. Nonetheless, the bad times heavily outweighed the good and thus I needed a way to blow off steam. When we were going through hard times, I would often take drives. I wouldn’t have a destination in mind; I was just getting in my car and driving. I often drove for hours one way up the interstate just to turn around and then go back home. I would turn up some music and scream at God for putting me in such a tough spot (I should mention I was still fairly religious back then). Eventually, the drives were just not enough and I began looking for something else. One day as I was taking one of my drives, I ended up at a small park in Abingdon. I just sat there staring out at the empty park and thought about how empty I also was. I heard my phone ringing and as I reached down to see that Ally was calling, I chose to ignore the call and grab my camera instead. That is how my start in photography came about. I started walking around the park and taking photographs of the old, rusty, and isolated playground equipment. There was something intimate and soothing about capturing images of this park, which seemed to be once loved and now abused. I felt like I connected with the park spiritually because I then felt the same way. I felt used, abandoned, and left for nothing. It was around all of this time period that I experienced my parent’s divorce, my two grandmothers pass away, the love of my life leave me, my current girlfriend stirring toxicity, and my ability to think clearly diminishing. Just like when I was a child I was again alone to wander the world, but now something wonderful was growing inside of me, a new love.
I am a found believer that sometimes the most beautiful and meaningful things life comes from utter chaos. In my life, all the great things that have came to me did so after hard times. When I was an active musician, some of the best music and lyrics I wrote came from times of deep sadness. With photography, some of my best images also come from times of sadness, loneliness, and depression. Over the years I talked to other artists from different mediums and many of them agree that the sadness of an artist is what fuels great projects. I personally feel that sad creations are full of meaningfulness and emotion. Happy art tends to be more care free and dull while sad art tends to be more nurtured like a child. I often feel like my camera is my soul mate and together we create a beautiful family of images.
2013 was a crazy year for me. It was in that year that I up and quit my job, opened up a business, started failing at life, through away a great girlfriend opportunity, and went back to college. That entire year was the biggest emotional roller coaster I had ever ridden. Although 2013 started off rocky and plunged rather low, towards the end of the year I pulled everything together and ended up with two great photo series; Peculiar and Self-Titled. The latter series is the one this very book is about. It was a series I created for a school project that turned into much more. I wanted to create a project that not only showed my love for music, but one I could show why. I wanted to create something that would depict my own life situations, thoughts, and stories into visual representations relative to the music that inspires and uplifts me. Since music has always been a huge part of my life, I figured this was the best way to do it. I spent four months perfecting ten images to best represent ten songs that were a part of my life, and today those songs and images are known as SELF TITLED.