Utah State University alumni magazine


A few months back I had the opportunity to photograph Deryl Snyder for Utah State University's alumni magazine. Deryl is a really smart guy (did I mention he has a PhD?) who works with aerodynamics and computers and things that cost more than I can imagine. The magazine wanted me to get some photographs of him in his office.

Often times these settings aren't the most ideal for taking photos. Apparently people don't design buildings thinking, "I wonder how we can make this place look good for portraits?" Being in these settings lets me flex my creative muscle. Surely anyone can create a great picture in a beautiful place, but can you create a great picture in a space filled with cubicles? Challenge accepted!

When shooting assignments like this I strive for two things. First, I get the images I believe the client wants. We've usually talked about the concept and direction beforehand which allows me to execute this fairly easily. Once I've gotten those, and if time permits, I try and grab a few frames which are more quirky. After all, images that lead you to ask more questions are more interesting than ones that answer questions (BOOM! How's that for wisdom).

Behind the Photograph

Daytona Beach, FL

There are a lot of hidden stories in the still image. Rarely do they house one narrative. This is a chance for me to tell you about those stories. 

Curiosity is something I treasure and a quality I love to encourage in others.

I love shooting film, particularly when it's medium format. There is something special about the medium. For me it's not the color or the nostalgia. It's the pace I find comforting, a pace that is more in line with the way in which I want to live, particularly in our Facechat Snapbook times. Film forces me to slow down, to think about each and every swing of the shutter. I arrange the frame with intentionality. I think through my actions. And this is not the only thing that is attracts me to it. I have noticed time and time again people appreciate being photographed with medium format film. I can not count the number of people who have been curious to know how this boxy, mechanical contraption works. Often times I will let them look through the viewfinder and teach them a little about it. Usually more questions follow, which I am excited to answer. Curiosity is something I treasure and a quality I love to encourage in others. This curiosity usually leads to an eagerness to have ones photo taken. I do not think of it as a manipulative practice, though one could take it to that extreme. I feel it is more of a collaborative practice. 

Every year I try and make it out to Bike Week in Daytona Beach, FL, which is where this photo was taken. Having lived in Florida all my life I was always aware of Bike Week but it was my attendance at a photo program in college in Daytona that really got me interested in it. Bike Week is an odd gathering. It is slightly off the radar of the general population but it draws a wide variety of people. Lawyers and construction workers, northerners and southerners, soccer moms and vagabonds. The potential for great pictures is endless. 

Film forces me to slow down, to think about each and every swing of the shutter.

Out of the corner of my eye I spotted this woman sitting on a curb down a side street. In this packed environment it was surprising to see she was the only one there. As I approached her I remember thinking she looked tired but content. I loved the monochromatic colors of her surrounds and how well they contrasted with her outfit and the curb. Your eye immediately lands on her and slowly drifts to the right, along the curb, to the sandbag. The sandbag mimics her posture (or maybe she mimics the sandbag?). Her posture is so flippant. It says, "I'm tired, I'm sweaty and I don't really care," as a smirk creeps up from her mouth. There is something so oddly comical and touching about it.

I approached this woman and asked if I could take her photograph. She said a simple "yes," I stepped back, took two or three frames, said my thanks and walked away. There are times when photography is a wrestling match. Where you fight with your self and the constraints of time and the medium to make something which speaks to you and the viewer. This was not one of those times. Although it only took a matter of minutes to make this picture it is one I am very proud of.

Behind the Photograph

Manila, Philippines.

There are a lot of hidden stories in the still image. Rarely do they house one narrative. This is a chance for me to tell you about those stories. 

When I was in my early 20s I took a journey to Manila, Philippines to shoot a couple of photo stories. At the time the best dSLR I could afford was a Canon 20d and even then I could only afford to buy one body. Knowing I would need 2 camera bodies (1 for backup) I decided to shoot 35mm film while there. It made things a little more complicated but in hindsight it was a good decision. I did have to fight with TSA on multiple occasions in order to to make sure they didn't scan my film. But having a 2nd body proved necessary as my main camera broke while shooting. The broken one had autofocus so I had to resort to shooting manual focus the remainder of the trip, something I hadn't done in years. Needless to say, to be safe I took multiple pictures of each scene when possible.

I want to show the reality of their situation. It's obviously not pretty. But at the same time I want to give them dignity by showing their strengths, ingenuity and kindness. 

One of the stories I covered was about the residents of Smokey Mountain. Smokey Mountain is home to thousands of people. It's also a garbage dump. The families here live off refuse. They eat from it, recycle it and turn it into charcoal for the city. Shooting stories like this are difficult because they take a lot of mental and emotional effort on my part. I want to show the reality of their situation. It's obviously not pretty. But at the same time I want to give them dignity by showing their strengths, ingenuity and kindness. 

I don't remember how I stumbled upon this scene. I think a resident may have flagged me down to check it out. As I swept back the curtain to enter their makeshift tent my eyes were filled with darkness as I waited for them to adjust to their new surroundings. At first it looked like a simple game of BINGO. Four women were silent as the sounds of chatter and children danced outside, concentrating on a game they were obviously taking very seriously. As I surveyed the scene I spotted the casket. I'm not used to seeing death displayed so prominently so it was a bit shocking. The last time I saw an open casket was at my grandmothers wake and I barely remember it.

Later I asked someone about this. I couldn't figure out what was going on in that small room for the life of me. They explained most people in Smokey Mountain couldn't afford to bury their loved ones. The family would invite everyone to come and spend money on games, karaoke, drinking, and other activities as a way to raise money for the burial. 

Four women were silent as the sounds of chatter and children danced outside, concentrating on a game they were obviously taking very seriously.

There are several small details in this photo that draw me to it. The cross over the casket that has been cropped to look like it's upside down. It's as if God is sad with the situation and the state of humanity. You have a young boy (peering over the shoulder of someone on the very left of the frame), the two young women, the oldest women nearest the casket, and the deceased in the casket. They show the passage of time. Does this scene show what's in store for the young boys future? The ornate and beautiful candle stick holders flanking the casket that were most likely found in the dump. Just as I dress in my nicest suit to honor the dead when I go to a funeral they do the same here by the presence of these candlestick holders. Notice how the table full of BINGO pages parallels the casket? Is this all just a game? Or do we enjoy our time here because we know there's more than death? And I love the movement in their arms. I can hear the BINGO pieces being laid down. 

APEX magazine for Acura

Last year I shot some images of a '95 Acura NSX and its owner for APEX magazine. APEX wanted some nice environmental shots of the car and its owner. It was really fun getting to shoot a car, something I haven't done before. Kudos to the creative team for trusting me to deliver. 

Exploring Orlando with WestJet Magazine.

Recently I was hired by WestJet Magazine to shoot some travel images showing off all Orlando has to offer. The list of places they wanted photographed was pretty great and being from Orlando I was able to add a few locations that weren't on their radar. Here's the spread as well as some of my favorites from the shoot. Really pleased how these all turned out!

Two weeks travel in Europe!

I love to travel. Thankfully I do a lot of it for my job and occasionally my wife gets to come along for the adventure. Despite having traveled to several countries we’ve never had the opportunity to see Europe. That changed late last year. We both had a great time visiting museums, sledding in the Swiss Alps, and biking though Amsterdam. Here are some pictures from our trip. I’ve included some that aren’t on my website. Hope you enjoy them! 

And a time lapse of the Swiss Alps from our hotel room

Shooting Pharmaceutical & Health Care with CVS and (add)ventures

In the middle of last year I was approached by (add)ventures to photograph some pharmaceutical & health care images for CVS. After doing some research I was pretty pumped to be shooting for CVS. In 2014 they gave up over $2 billion in revenue by dropping all tobacco products from their stores. What's crazier is they didn't do it because the public was pressuring them to. They did it because the company's leaders didn't feel tobacco was in line with their mission to help customers on their path to health. 

Every year CVS hands out an award within the company to the best pharmacist called the Paragon award. Photographing for CVS was easy and (add)ventures liked the photos so much they asked me to photograph some more people a few months later. Here are some of my favorites. 

Part IV: The Promotion - Mr. Gold

Be sure you check out the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd post in this series.

This is probably the question I got asked the most by industry folks. How did you get it to blow up? Obviously the first piece of advice is to have something that's good (hope that doesn't come off as conceited). Beyond that I think there are a couple reasons this film had the legs it did. 

Florida Film Festival

Florida Film Festival

First, and I didn't realize it until after it started picking up steam, Mr. Gold is a very sharable film. It's about a local celebrity barely anyone knows a thing about. Thousands of people know who Mr. Gold is. On top of that the film is an uplifting/feel good piece. There isn't a lot you can argue with in the film. It's not divisive. You end up rooting for Jose in the end. I think it's natural that people want to share these kinds of stories, especially nowadays. 

While those things are important I knew they wouldn't be enough to give Mr. Gold the kind of reach I wanted it to have. After reading a really good blog post on how to promote your short film I sat down and sketched out a marketing plan. I have a cousin who's a great writer and I asked him to write up a press release. I pulled frames from the film so bloggers/publications would have pictures if they wanted to run the piece. I spent days researching people, companies, and websites who may want to see the film. 

After doing all this I put my plan into motion early on a Monday morning. I chose Monday because I wanted the film to pick up steam throughout the week and knew things would pretty much die out over the weekend, making it harder for the film to pick up steam again. So on a Monday morning I sent out an ungodly amount of tweets to website curators, bloggers, publications, etc. Here's an example of the tweet I sent: 

Understanding that blogs want your content I emailed to tell them about the story in hopes they would want to feature it. I also sent them the press release and the pictures in case they wanted to use them as well. I also reached to local news and radio stations, the newspaper, and websites who have previously featured my work. All in all I reached out to over 100 people over several days.  

One of my main goals was to get the film featured on Short of the Week and/or Vimeo Staff Picks, knowing one of these would propel the films reach. Short of the Week liked my film but ultimately decided not to run it because they felt it was too short for their audience and they wanted to know more about Jose (fair enough). Vimeo Staff Picks did pick it up and from that point on people started reaching out to me offering distribution (which I turned down) and wanting to know more about Jose. 

Going the film festival route hadn't crossed my mind. It wasn't until after the dust settled that I thought festivals could be a good idea, the film had obviously struck a cord with people. I entered about 20 festivals and so far have been a featured selection in 4 as well as winning a Gold Addy award (they're like the Oscars for the advertising world). I'm still waiting to hear back from several film festivals.

Our local public radio station did a piece on Mr. Gold.  

And I was on the news!

I cleared a whole week out of my schedule so I could focus solely on promoting the film. It was a lot of work but the result was worth it. For my next film I hope to do some of the promotion and possibly hire someone to help with the task.

I'm pretty excited with how this all turned out. Since it's completion I've received several offers from ad agencies about doing some work for them. We'll see what comes next...

Part III: The Edit - Mr. Gold

I've covered the concept and the process of shooting Mr. Gold in two previous posts. This time I'll tackle the post production side. About three quarters of the way through filming I had an idea of how I wanted this to look. I knew I wanted to introduce Jose in a very mysterious way at the beginning. Showing close ups of his outfit would work really well. Plus this adds some mystery which causes people to keep watching (very important because of our short attention spans). I also knew that I wanted to keep it under 5 minutes. I would have loved to make it a little longer, maybe 10-15 minutes, but I knew this would work well as a web video. From what I've learned anything over 5 minutes on the web gets drastically lower view counts (there are exceptions, like niche markets and if you get featured on a very popular site). Making it shorter would cater to more people.

The first thing I had to do was buy some editing software. After some research I settled on Final Cut X. I know some of you are probably gasping for air but hear me out. I've never edited anything before this so I didn't have the need for an editing program. I wanted something I could learn quickly so I could get this sucker out to the masses. From what I read X was very user friendly. Yes, everyone using 7 hated it because they couldn't import their old projects (I would be pissed at this too!). But I didn't have any old projects. I was starting from scratch so X would work fine for me.

Ok, now for the editing. I'm not going to lie...it was hard. Really hard. Telling the story wasn't the hard part. Understanding the program and all it's intricacies was hard. It's one thing to know how you want something to look. It's another thing to know how to get it that way.  After purchasing a Ripple Training series it became a lot easier.

There were a few things I set out to accomplish while editing. After sifting through the interview I knew it would be a good idea to highlight his background. I really thought the prison photos were great. They were a harsh reminder of his background and I thought the one of him in front of the painted backdrop was funny (I have a weird sense of humor). At one point I looked into filming in a prison but there were too many hurdles to jump through.

It was a windy day when Matt and I were filming high-speed. I had Matt grab a shot of Jose's coat waving in the wind. During editing this became a crucial shot. I used it at 2:36 and it's where the story climaxes. The shot reminds me of a superhero's cape flapping in the wind. I placed it where I did, when the music becomes more engaging and amidst him telling his most memorable story, because I knew it would further drive his story home.

You'll notice that I tried to put more of the personality type shots (him dancing, waving, etc.) near the end. If these were placed at the beginning I feel they wouldn't have meshed well with the story of his background. I think that would be my biggest piece of advice to someone editing, and it's pretty simple. Probably one that doesn't need to be told. But I'll tell it anyway, make sure your dialogue, music, and visuals match. Peppy music and a sad story just don't go well together. That being said all rules are meant to be broken.


The footage after the credits was too good to pass up. I tried to put it in the body of the film but couldn't find a place where it flowed smoothly. The irony of it is subtle but great. His gold teeth represented his past life (something he talked about in our interviews but didn't get included in the film) and getting them removed represented a new chapter for him. The irony is how well they work with his job. I mean, come on! You're named Mr. Gold and you have gold teeth but you get them removed to shed the old you! It's movie making gold (get it?)!

Seriously though, it was a very moving thing to witness. The smile on Jose's face was a mile wide and he couldn't stop saying, "Woah!" for 30 minutes. The owners of Diamond Exchange found a dentistry practice to donate their services, which made it even more touching.

A good buddy of mine named Kyle Cox scored the piece. At first I wanted some subtle ambient music (think Explosions in the Sky). Kyle did some research and was really inspired by the urban nature of the film and by the score for the move Drive. He had this once piece of music laying around and thought it would be the perfect fit. I'll have to admit it took me a few days to warm up to. The music wasn't bad it just wasn't what I had in my head. But after sitting on it for a bit I was convinced. I think the score really helps set Mr. Gold apart from other shorts because it doesn't sound like them. It's different and catches your attention. Also, Jose's voice doesn't fluctuate much when he talks. The music brings some energy that another score might have lacked.

Have any questions? Leave them in the comments and I'll make sure to answer them.

Up Next - Part IV: The Promotion

Part II: The Shoot - Mr. Gold

After I had approval it was time to shoot. This is my favorite part. It's where the creative side of my brain gets churning. I didn't set up a lot of guidelines for how I would shoot but I did know one thing, I wanted to try and only shoot at sunset. You get that beautiful golden light at sunset and it obviously makes visual sense with a video called Mr. Gold. Plus, I think it framed Jose in a different light. Some people would see this guy working long and hot hours on the side of the road and think, "What a crap job," or they would look at his history and automatically dismiss him. By framing him in the light of the sunset I wanted to show the viewer what I saw in his story; hope, determination, joyfulness, and spunk.

Screen Shot 2014-06-13 at 2.15.17 PM.jpg

While I was shooting I ran into a few hurdles. About a third of the way into shooting I started realizing the difficulty of shooting him while he worked. You see, Jose works on a street corner. That limits the angles I can shoot him at (at least on wide shots). Furthermore he pretty much repeats the same actions and motions (I joked with him that he's a master at knowing the timing of the lights at that intersection). I had to figure out how to break things up, which was good because it made me think outside the box. Besides doing the simple wide/long, static, and detail shots I incorporated some steadi shots. Now I'm not a steadicam expert...by any means. I really suck at it to tell you the truth. It's an art. Thankfully I only had to do enough steadi for a few shots. I'm really proud of how they came out, particularly the one at 2:46 (which was fun to do. Probably because it was dangerous).

Speaking of steadi, my buddy Matt Hutchens is an excellent steadicam operator (among a list of other things..ham radio operator, chess master, ballroom dancer, marksman, butterfly collector). He also knows how to work a mean high speed camera. High speed has slowly become a gimmick (ha...I made a pun). Kinda like shallow depth of field was when DSLRs came out. I didn't want the use of high speed to be a gimmick, something to use just because it was available. I think I succeeded in using it appropriately (especially at 1:55 and 2:36).

I had a couple happy accidents while shooting too. The shot where there is a police car in the background (2:30) happened inadvertently (I didn't call a cop for that one). I like how this shot plays off the dialogue of Jose talking about his most memorable experience as Mr. Gold. It was also a great way to juxtapose his past life with his current life. The shot of Jose at 1:06 was also a total accident. I was setting up my camera and checking my exposure and just happened to have the camera rolling. Thankfully he thought I was paying attention and flipped his hat. That scene really shows Mr. Golds character and attitude. The shot at 00:43 of Jose showing me his prison photos on his broken phone was another happy accident. At the end of our interview at his apartment I asked him if he had any prison photos on himself. The phone is such a great illustration of his life at that time. It always pays to be curious and ask lots of questions.

In case you're interested. Here is the gear used in making the film:

Canon 5d Mark II

Sony FS700

Some kind of Nikon Dslr that shoots video (Steve was shooting it for the interview. I'm not a Nikon guy)

Canon lenses (16-35, 50, 85, 70-200mm)

Monopod with fluid head

Glidecam 2000 Pro

Rode Videomic microphone

My Honda Civic for the driving shot

Sennheiser Lavs

Final Cut X

Up next: Part III: The Edit

Part I: The Concept - Mr. Gold

Last year I finished my first major video piece called Mr. Gold. I have done video plenty of times before with other shooters but this was my baby. I've had a lot of people emailing to ask how I did it. Rather than email everyone individually I figured I'd do a few blog posts detailing the whole process. If you're reading this looking for flashy images you'll probably be disappointed. It'll probably be a lot of words. Visually boring...yes. Informative...that's what I'm shooting for. The concept to do Mr. Gold came out of one major epiphany. It was this: I really need to get into this video thing.  You see, the landscape for still photographers has changed. Everyone is asking if we do video now. A few years ago I began to see this and knew I needed to start preparing for this shift. Some old crusty guys were appalled at this shift. They're the same guys who got angry when digital broke onto the scene. Thankfully for me I've always loved the art of "talkies" (as those old crusty guys would call video). I grew up in a movie loving family and looking back on it I believe my first love was film, not still photography. All that to say taking up video wasn't a difficult mental leap for me.

Since this was the first major piece I would be doing alone I knew there were some things I needed to consider. First off, I needed to do something close to home. I had tossed around doing a project in another state/country. Ultimately I decided that I needed to stay close to home. This would allow me to shoot as much as I'd like. If I didn't capture something or the weather wasn't right I could easily go back and shoot. Since this was more of a personal project, being close to home would also mean I couldn't use the distance excuse to not go shoot. "Well it's so far away and I only have 2 hours and blah blah blah..." How many times do we do this? Jose (the subject) literally worked 2 blocks away from me at the time. Distance wouldn't be an issue.

So how did I find Jose? Like I said above, he worked about 2 blocks away from me. While driving I would pass Jose nearly everyday. I would watch Jose while sitting at the red lights (and boy do those Colonial Drive red lights take forever). He'd flip his hat, wave to every vehicle that passed, sing and dance, point enthusiastically with his right index finger at those who honked at him. He did everything with such flair. It was fascinating. And the fact that he did it in the sweltering Florida heat was even more impressive. Something about him reminded me of Rick Flair (yes, I grew up on wrestling. No, I am not ashamed).

The idea I mentioned above of the need to get into video started to creep into my head around this time. I started thinking Jose might be a good subject. After doing some research I found this article in the Orlando Weekly. After reading it I knew I had found my subject.

As a kid there were times when I was nervous to ask for something or ask for help. My mom, the wise sage she is, always gave me this advice: the worst they can say is "no." Pretty simple. Armed with this I marched up to Jose and told him I wanted to make a short documentary about his story (I use the term "marched" very loosely. I'm sure my palms were sweating and my voice was cracking). Jose's a nice guy and he knows his story is pretty powerful so he said yes. After getting the approval of his employers we were good to go.

Be sure to check out the rest of my motion work by clicking here!

Up next - Part II: The Shoot

Welcome to Comic Con

The top spot to hold a convention is almost always awarded to Orlando. We also rank high for crazy new stories, but that's not important right now. Being an Orlando native I've seen plenty of conventions come and go. I've seen the pet industry convention, the helicopter convention, the body building convention (couldn't get into that one), the landscape show, the Star Wars convention (see that blog post here), and most recently Comic Con. 

I've never gotten a chance to use a ring light so I figured this was as good a time as any to rent one and try it out. I'm happy with how the photos came out. They're drastically different from when I shot the Star Wars convention. Next time I'll probably change it up again just for the fun of it.

Croquet | Exploring Winter Park, FL

I love when I stumble across something so conducive to photography it's as if the photo Gods simply handed it to me. That's the case with these images. I was driving down Park Avenue in Winter Park, Florida and saw a guy playing croquet. I parked my car and asked if he usually plays alone. He said no. There are usually a group of fellows who play with him, they just didn't show up this time. Over the next hour he taught me the game and we played a round under the humid Florida sun. I can't recall who won our match, but if it was me he was simply being kind. I came back the following week to photograph him and his friends play. I've gotta say, croquet is fun. It's relaxing, competitive, and gives you a sense of regality. You should give it a whirl.


Concrete Producer Magazine

One of the reasons I love being an editorial photographer is I get to meet such a wide gamut of people and learn about so many interesting things. When The Concrete Producer called I was really intrigued. I found myself photographing Robert Finfrock and learned a lot about concrete, which is actually pretty interesting. Be sure to check out the write up on their website. Here are the photos they featured and some others from the shoot:


Funny story about this last photo. Robert had the idea of going up on the roof and shooting a panoramic of the plant. I was game for it. While I'm up there he decided to hop up on the edge of the building and shoot some photos of his own (he really loves photography). As I'm photographing him on the edge of death I'm thinking, "These will make great photos, I just hope they aren't the last ones of him..."


11 Questions with Orlando Magic Super Fan Dennis "The Fat Guy" Salvagio in Orlando, FL

You can’t deny people are awesome. Who doesn’t like sitting down with good friends to ask them interesting, insightful, and funny questions? That’s what 11 Questions is for. I’ll be featuring some friends I look up to as well as people within the community I’ve always wanted to get to know. Let’s get started!

I'm not going to lie. When Dennis agreed to be featured on 11 Questions I was ecstatic. Let me correct myself. I wasn't ecstatic. I was giddy. For those of you who don't know Dennis is an Orlando celebrity to us basketball loving types. He's an Orlando Magic Super Fan. A season ticket holder since the beginning. When I went to Magic games as a kid I remember watching him go crazy in the stands. He would wave his shirt around, yell and scream, and make fun of the refs. When the crowd needed a pick-me-up at a crucial moment it wasn't unusual to see Dennis running around the stadium shirtless. Though his day job is as a defense attorney I still see Dennis as The Fat Guy, a defining character from my childhood. It was a pleasure to get to know him. Next time you're at a Magic Game keep an eye out for him. His craziness won't be hard to spot.

Who do you look up to?

I look up to people who are generous and do not brag about their giving. I also look up to Pope Francis.

Do you have a favorite book or album?

I love reading but don't have the chance to do it as often as I would like to do so. I don't really have a favorite book but I love to read non-fiction. I read "Sea biscuit" in two days. I couldn't put in down. I have also read Kon Tiki, which I thoroughly enjoyed and the Right Stuff, which is another book I couldn't put down.

Favorite place to eat in Orlando?

There are a lot of great places to eat in Orlando--I love the way they treat me and my guests at Kres (Chicken) on Church Street and Stefano's Tratoria (chicken lasagna) in Winter Springs. Thai Basil (Chicken Satay) is one of my favorites as well.

If you could mate two different species of animals what would they be?

I would mate an elephant and a gazelle. That way the resultant animal could eat all it wanted and run as fast as it can if needed.


What gives you inspiration?

I am inspired by great effort. I love to win and I am willing to put the greatest effort in everything I do.

If you had a chance to live in a different decade, what decade would you choose?

That's tough. I like the decade within which I am presently living. Flushing toilets, sewer systems and other ways to stay clean are better today than in any other decade.

What in your personal life has influenced you to choose your career?

I always wanted to be a criminal defense lawyer. I would hate to be a government lawyer and prosecute people. There is great pleasure I receive every time I win a trial. I love the idea of helping the little man. It's that thing against authority I still have.


How do you balance your personal and professional life?

I haven't figured out how to do that! However, I totally separate the two, but when people need me, I always respond.  I go on vacations to diverse and remote places. That is how I can separate my business from my love of photography and travel.

Is there anything you haven't done yet that you feel compelled to achieve in the future?

I constantly ask that question of myself every day. I want to look at myself and hope that I have made a difference in the world. If it means helping one person at a time and making a positive difference in one person's life or if it means impacting the planet in some meaningful way. I try to live up to all the expectations I have of myself with respect to my fellow man.

What are your other interests?

I love to travel to exotic places. I have been on every continent, to over 60 countries and my wife and I have set foot in every time zone. I have crossed the Equator, setting one foot on either side and have done the same thing at the prime meridian. I love photography. I will always have a camera with me and I love to write.

What rejuvenates you?

C'mon! Doesn't that rejuvenate everybody?

11 Questions with Snap! Director and Producer Patrick Kahn in Orlando, FL

You can’t deny people are awesome. Who doesn’t like sitting down with good friends to ask them interesting, insightful, and funny questions? That’s what 11 Questions is for. I’ll be featuring some friends I look up to as well as people within the community I’ve always wanted to get to know. Let’s get started!


I don't really recall how Patrick and I met. It obviously had to do with photography. A few years ago some of my images from the Parramore + Holden series were featured in Snap! We've been friends ever since. Patrick has great visual taste and he's really upped Orlando's game when it comes to showcasing art. It's easy to see how Patrick has transformed Snap! from a relatively small photo festival into a permanent art space that attracts world class talent. He's naturally inquisitive, kind, and he loves to share his latest visual discovery. Furthermore, he's not a turtleneck wearing art snob who looks down on people (one of my favorite qualities of his). Next time you're in Orlando make sure to check out Snap! Space. Patrick would love to give you a tour.

Who do you look up to?

Anybody who is truly authentic.

Do you have a favorite book or album?

I do not recall one specific book, nor album that was a life changing experience, though I do vividly remember discovering Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust album the day it came out.

Favorite place to eat in Orlando?

The Pharmacy. Locally grown organic food, quality and they change the menu often with the season. Many favorites and I've tried a variety of meals from the menu.


If you could mate two different species of animals what would they be?

A bird and a fish. The wings to see the world from above, the gills to explore the deep sea.

What gives you inspiration?

True talent and selfless people.

If you had a chance to live in a different decade, what decade would you choose?

I have been fortunate to have experienced a few decades. The sixties brought the black and white TV. The seventies the flower generation. The eighties, do the bump! The nineties, baby steps into the internet. I truly enjoyed every one of them, very lucky to have witnessed and experienced so much.


What in your personal life has influenced you to choose your career?

When I was in school, I was more interested in drawing and doodling than studying. I am a very visual person. I always expressed myself better with images than with words. So I went from doodling to drawing, to creating catalogs, to designing billboards, to publishing a magazine, to creating a photography festival, to opening an art gallery … full circle.

How do you balance your personal and professional life?

My wife Holly keeps me in line and in check.


Is there anything you haven't done yet that you feel compelled to achieve in the future?

The next project.  

What are your other interests?


What rejuvenates you?

Florida weather and clean air.

11 Question with Musician and Composer Kyle Cox in Orlando, Florida.

You can’t deny people are awesome. Who doesn’t like sitting down with good friends to ask them interesting, insightful, and funny questions? That’s what 11 Questions is for. I’ll be featuring some friends I look up to as well as people within the community I’ve always wanted to get to know. Let’s get started!


I'll admit it. This blog has been featuring a lot of 11 Questions lately. I'll try to post some more non-11 Questions stuff soon but in the mean time let me introduce you to Kyle Cox. Kyle is an excellent composer, singer songwriter, and musician. I've been fortunate to get to know Kyle over the last year or so. We've had beers, talked about basketball, and brainstormed on some forthcoming creative shenanigans. I was lucky enough to have him to score my upcoming short documentary and was pleased to hear some of the songs on his upcoming album. His songs are honest and touching, personal and laid back, much like the man behind the music. If you get a chance to meet Kyle, indulge yourself.

Be sure to follow Kyle on Twitter, hear his music on Bandcamp, and see some of the videos he's composed on his website!

If you could mate two different species of animals what would they be?

This is probably the worst answer to start off an interview, but I really don't care about animals. I'm not even sure I could tell you two species of animals that I like & would want to see their offspring. Penguins are cool. Pretty chill animals. I have no good reason for saying that. Just the first animal that popped in my mind. Maybe a groundhog too. I don't know. Ha. I suck.

Who do you look up to?

There are so many people I look up to in so many areas of my life. Spiritually, relationally (marriage & friends), professionally, creatively, etc. Some of those people overlap in different areas, some not so much. I guess since this is a professional/creative blog, I'll mention those. Professionally, I really look up to my producer, Mike Marsh. He's a great example of someone working really hard to achieve his goals & dreams. He also has a great family, two daughters & a super supportive wife, so it's been really great seeing that side of professional. How to make those relationships a priority while managing his profession. It's a real cool perspective that I feel blessed to see. Creatively, there's so many people I look up to. A lot of them are my friends. Seriously, Orlando's songwriting & music community is outstanding. I'm not even sure Orlando realizes what it has going on. I spend quite a bit of time in Nashville, especially recently, and honestly this community can hold their own against some of Nashville's best (not that it's a competition). I bet there are some readers who are rolling their eyes at that statement, but I am serious. The only difference between Orlando & Nashville is the quantity, not the quality. Each one of my friends in Orlando would definitely hold their own, if not stand out in the Nashville scene. Heck, there's a few Orlando transplant friends of mine who have moved to Nashville & are already making waves in the scene up there. I say all that to say, my friends & this creative community are a huge influence on me. I look up to so many people in this community, their talent, their character, their willingness to use those gifts & make a difference. It's a cool thing & I hope that Orlando appreciates what's happening in their own backyard.

Do you have a favorite book or album?

I don't really read much, which I know is terrible. Especially for a songwriter. Great writers are great readers, and I'm trying to fix that in my life. However, I have read some great books that have helped influence me quite a bit. Making Ideas Happen is an incredible book that any professional creative or a creative hoping to make it their profession must read. That book spends a lot of time communicating practical ways to actually get the crap done creatives hope to get done. Any creative, if being honest, will tell you that staying organized & committed to a singular project and seeing that project to completion is one of the most difficult things to do. This book addresses that & helps give practical steps toward that.

Quitter was another book I really enjoyed. I read it just months before I quit my job. It address the desires that most people feel about not working their dream job & how to maybe make that happen. I didn't agree with everything in the book, but there is quite a bit of quality in there.

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years is a killer book too. I read it in a time in my life where I was deciding what I should do next. Should I quit my job? Am I being foolish or selfish? Or is this really the right thing to do? Well, this book is all about living a story worth living. I'm all about great storytelling & wanting my life to be a story worth telling. It really helped me sort through those questions of risk & comfort that I was struggling with and what that means in the grander story of my life as a whole.


Favorite place to eat in Orlando?

I have a lot of places I love to eat in Orlando. I think Orlando has so many great restaurants, so it's hard to pick a favorite. However, the first place I thought of was Gringos Locos Tacos. I love their pork Double D tacos WITH their chipotle sauce. That's the kicker right there. You have to put the chipotle sauce on it.

What gives you inspiration?

I try to find inspiration in a lot of places. I think the things that I continually find inspiration in is seeing my peers creating quality art, whatever it is. Film, photography, music, graphics, etc. Anytime one of my peers creates something that's of high quality, it gets me excited about what's happening & my wheels turning on what I should create next.

I also think being so involved in sports my whole life, there's a level of friendly competition that builds up in me anytime I see a peer create something great. It pushes me to keep creating & drives something inside of me to not want to be the only one who's not doing something fresh, new, & of quality. But I need to be careful with that competitive drive. It can cause me sometimes to be unable to celebrate with my peers because I'll get so caught up in the competition of it & not wanting to be the one left behind. That's not a good way to live & I have to make a constant effort to not respond that way. It's very important to be able to truly celebrate with those around you & make sure they feel genuinely supported. Then allow their successes to help drive your motivation, not out of spite, but in a loving, competitive community of support.

If you had a chance to live in a different decade, what decade would you choose?

I think I would love to live in Europe in the 20s or 30s. I'm not sure if I even have a reason for that. But I think that would be rad. I also think America in the late 1800s would be awesome. I'm pretty terrible with history, so those could be the worst times to live, but hey, whatever. Seems cool to me.

What in your personal life has influenced you to choose your career?

I've always wanted to do things out of the ordinary in my life. I never was that kid who grew up wanting to be a firefighter, teacher, or astronaut. That always seemed so boring. I've always loved creating. I think the most normal profession I considered while growing up was an architect, but other than that, I always wanted to be things like an actor, magician, play in the NBA, rock star, professional skateboarder, artist, etc. As I grew older, I found that I kept landing back at playing music. Thankfully, my parents were always supportive of the music/band thing. They bought most of my first guitars & amps, allowed my bands to rehearse at their house multiple hours a week, & always came out to my shows. As bands came & went, I think really the last 3-4 years is when I've really settled into songwriting & composing as a career, whatever that may look like. As long as I can put food on the table doing those things, I'm grateful.

To sum it all up, I think what has really driven me to choose this career is the lack of discouragement in any creative decision I've made growing up. I was not only given, but encouraged to make creative decisions, and mistakes, in my life. As I've grown up making those choices, they've all kind of boiled down into what I'm most passionate about, and that's songwriting & composing.


How do you balance your personal and professional life?

When I was working multiple jobs, that was very difficult, so you know what I did? I quit those jobs. This now has left me the opportunity to work on music much more than I ever have as well as give me more time for my wife & friends than I have had in long time. Thankfully I've been fortunate enough to have an incredibly supportive wife with a great job as well as been able to make a little money myself with music. It's been a incredible blessing. With all that being said, I still have to make a conscious effort to not let music consume everything I do. Honestly, music, songwriting, composing, my passions, etc. are really of such little importance in the grander picture of life. Not to diminish these gifts I've been trusted with, I do believe I need to be a good steward of them, however, the relationships I've been blessed & trusted with are more important and I need to be just as much a good steward of those as anything else.

Is there anything you haven't done yet that you feel compelled to achieve in the future?

This is a really interesting time in my career to ask that question. I feel like the goals I've been shooting for the last couple years are just about reached. I've finished recording my first full length record with a killer producer & we are now just in the mixing/mastering stage of everything. I love how everything is sounding & I couldn't be more proud of this record. That's been a huge goal for me for a while. I also just finished writing & recording the score to my first full feature film. It's an independent film out of Australia & am I really excited about how it turned out. Doing a full feature film has been a goal of mine for a long time now too.

I definitely have goals & aspirations that hinge off of those accomplishments. I would love to play some killer festivals or get put on some great tours with acts I really love. I'd also love to score many more full feature indie films. However, right now, it's just the waiting game. I can't really push the movie until it's released. I can't really push the record until it's finished.

I think if I had my way in the future, I would tour, write records, play shows for about half the year & the other half of the year score independent films. We'll see what happens!

What are your other interests?

That's a funny question. I've been told by many friends that my hobby is hobbies. Basically, I have a ton of other interests that I love. I love sports, especially the NBA & college football. I love craft beer & scotch whiskey (and taking the time to try as many different kinds I can). I've gone through painting spurts, mostly graffiti style lettering (all legal, no vandalism). I love classic magic culture, Houdini era stuff. I love watching independent films & documentaries. I love building Legos. Pretty much name it & at some point I've spent way too much time messing with it.

What rejuvenates you?

Being an introvert, solo time is my main way of getting rejuvenated. Anytime I'm feeling wore out or drained, I know that if I just spend some time by myself, walking around the city, sitting on the front porch playing guitar, hanging out in a coffee shop alone. Anything like that generally will do the trick. Being married, often times a good conversation with my wife will rejuvenate me well. I love a good conversation.

Have any questions for Kyle? Leave them in the comments below and I'll make sure he answers them.

11 Questions with Selenia Rios from Traveller Denim Co. in Austin, TX

You can’t deny people are awesome. Who doesn’t like sitting down with good friends to ask them interesting, insightful, and funny questions? That’s what 11 Questions is for. I’ll be featuring some friends I look up to as well as people within the community I’ve always wanted to get to know. Let’s get started!


We're taking 11 Questions on the road this week. I was photographing in Austin and wanted to find someone to be on the blog. Knowing Austin is a mecca for all things weird and creative I knew it wouldn't be hard. That's where Selenia Rios comes in. Selenia is half the driving force behind Traveller Denim Co. Traveller makes jeans the way things should be made. By hand with care. They produce each pair in Austin with special consideration to quality. Every detail is thought about, from where materials are sourced to the little features that make their jeans stand out. It was great talking with Selenia and making a new friend. Stop by their shop next time you're in Austin. They'd love to see you.

Who do you look up to?

I look up to my business partner Erik Untersee for being the hardest working man I know...he is n charge of all of Travellers production and manufacturing and keeps the heart and soul of our company alive.

Do you have a favorite book or album?

Damn! Super hard question! I love books and music so much...my favorite book would have to be The Most Beautiful Woman in Town by Charles Bukowski. It's a super dark and intense compilation of short stories. I'm generally a happy, positive person but this book is just a great way to escape and explore the mind of one of my favorite writers. An album that changed my life would have to be hands down Grizzly Bear's Veckatimest. These guys are just brilliant musicians and every time I've seen them play it brings me to tears. Also Bon Iver, For Emma Forever Ago..we had the opportunity to give Justin Vernon and his new band Volcano Choir jeans in exchange for a song and it was hands down the best experience of my life. Great guys.

Favorite place to eat in Austin?

My favorite place has got to be Taco Mex. It's a tiny little taco stand on the eastside and I always get Migas breakfast tacos with their chipotle ranch sauce...so damn good...erryday!


If you could mate two different species of animals what would they be?

A cat and a dog....love them both but this super species would be the snuggliest dog/cat ever and totally independent like a cat. Also it would have a tiny cat head and a bulldog body.

What gives you inspiration?

All of the incredible makers and artists here in Austin. We have such a supportive community of small business and craftspeople. When times are hard and we feel like quitting...our fellow makers in town remind us that our community is different and special and we have to keep the local makers movement alive. These amazing, creative people inspire me everyday to keep the dream alive.

If you had a chance to live in a different decade, what decade would you choose?

I think I would choose being in my 30s in the late 60s early 70s....so I could've seen all the amazing bands.


What in your personal life has influenced you to choose your career?

I've always been an artist for passion. I never thought it would lead me to a career. Working for myself is probably the hardest and best thing I've ever done. I wouldn't change it! Being able to control the quality of everything we put out and making those special relationships with our clients makes this career and all the long hours worth it.

How do you balance your personal and professional life?

Hahaha....currently this doesn't happen. Check back in 5 years:) For right now drinks every Saturday at Yellow Jacket Social Club does the trick.


Is there anything you haven't done yet that you feel compelled to achieve in the future?

My future goal is to design a boutique hotel with a Traveller/Traveler aesthetic. American rustic, warm, and a home away from home. We travel a lot and its always been a dream to design a perfect stay cation spot in Austin.

What are your other interests?

Music...going to shows and collecting records is my favorite thing ever. I live and breathe my music collection.

What rejuvenates you?

See above:) Also walking on town lake on a gorgeous day and yoga if I can squeeze it in!

11 Questions with John Rife from East End Market in Orlando, FL

You can’t deny people are awesome. Who doesn’t like sitting down with good friends to ask them interesting, insightful, and funny questions? That’s what 11 Questions is for. I’ll be featuring some friends I look up to as well as people within the community I’ve always wanted to get to know. Let’s get started!


John Rife is an evangelist. Give him a soap box and he will shout his gospel to the masses (in a very kindhearted way though). His is a gospel about community, food, and consumer education. John recently launched East End Market, Orlando's one stop shop for locally sourced food and goods. Through East End John hopes to change the way we consume food and build a dynamic local economy. Being a gardener myself, I love the urban garden out front the most. It's bounty is given to tenants to use in their meals and dishes. Photographing and speaking with John was a true pleasure. He really believes in Orlando and has great plans for how to make it a vibrant, thriving city.

Who do you look up to?

I look up to my Dad a ton.  He’s a fascinating guy and totally a self-made man.  He’s an adventurer and an entrepreneur at heart.  He grew up in the Florida Keys and the pioneering spirit of that place has served him well.  From hunting big game in Africa to developing huge real estate projects, he’s always cool headed and honorable no matter how high the stakes.

Do you have a favorite book?

My favorite book is Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist.  I love allegorical fiction, like song lyrics, they have many interpretations.  I have read it many times and each time it scratches the itch in my soul that drew me to pick it up again.  Simple & wonderful book.

Favorite place to eat in Orlando?

My go to is the Grinderman sandwich at Stardust Cafe in Audubon Park.  It is a spicy chicken pesto sandwich with a side salad drizzled in balsamic.  Depending on where I sit, I can people watch, movie watch, fly under the radar or chat it up with the hipsters and neighbors of the district.

If you could mate two different species of animals what would they be?

I’d interbreed an otter and Labrador retriever.  It would be an uber-retriever, record breaking tennis ball retrieval speeds on land and sea and family friendly to boot.


What gives you inspiration?

I find people discovering what their calling is and then having the courage to pursue it deeply inspiring.  Carving a new path is so much more challenging than following the status quo, yet it is the trailblazers that have given society ideas, products, and services that make life more vibrant and interesting.

If you had a chance to live in a different decade, what decade would you choose?

I’d love to have lived in the first decade of the 1800’s.  This was the era of the Louisiana Purchase, Lewis and Clark expedition and during a lull of aggression following the Revolutionary War and before outbreak of the war of 1812.  It was roughly 25 years or so from the signing of the Declaration of Independence and many of our country's forefathers were still shaping our destiny.  It was a laissez-faire business climate and I love the idea of testing my mettle in that rough and tumble time.

What in your personal life has influenced you to choose your career?

I come from a long line of entrepreneurs.  My great, great, grandfather James Elliott was a famous riverboat captain, iron foundry owner and train car manufacturer.  There is an old picture of him where he is about my age and we look strikingly similar.  Looking in his face I can imagine the kind of trials and challenges he must have faced being an industrialist and an entrepreneur in his era.  The spirit of perseverance and dogged pursuit of progress that he must have exuded and that my grandfather and father both modeled give me the audacity to pioneer my own career.

What's your favorite thing about Orlando?

My favorite thing about Orlando is the cultural renaissance we are going through right now.  Home grown businesses are really thriving.  Seeing consumers forego franchises in favor of the more unique mom-and-pop businesses springing up around town gives me great hope.  It is still a little like searching for salamanders under rocks but the search is worth the effort.


What rejuvenates you?

I need alone time.  My wife Kamrin  calls it my “cave time”.  So much of my day is in the public realm and spent interacting with people.  When the day is over, kids are in bed, I’ve spent time catching up with Kam and our dog Murphy has been walked, I want to unplug from engaging with people and just follow my bliss.  It could be a night following the rabbit down the hole that is Wikipedia, or watching documentary films, playing video games, whatever…..the common denominator is that it’s “my” time and what ever tickles my fancy is the order of the day.

What are your other interests?

Oh jeeze.  Almost too many interests to list, but one folks wouldn’t expect is I’m a closet nerd. I like Marvel comic books, fantasy fiction, video games, and other decidedly geeky stuff.  My current obsession is a digital card game called Hearthstone put out by Blizzard Entertainment.  I am so jazzed to be a part of the closed beta test of this game and I just can’t get enough.

Is there anything you haven't done yet that you feel compelled to achieve in the future?

My slogan is, “Don’t wait for your ship to come in, row out to meet it”.  I don’t plan to far out into the future.  I just keep my eyes on the horizon and a ship always seems to pull into port about the time I get comfortable with status quo. Then I start paddling like a mad man.  Thankfully there are no ships on the horizon at present so I’ve pulled my oars in and will focus on East End for a while.  That being said I am grateful for the variety of ships that have pulled into my port over the years offering interesting opportunities and adventures and will always be watchful for the next.

11 Questions with Sarah Collins from Lure Design in Orlando, FL Pt. 2

You can’t deny people are awesome. Who doesn’t like sitting down with good friends to ask them interesting, insightful, and funny questions? That’s what 11 Questions is for. I’ll be featuring some friends I look up to as well as people within the community I’ve always wanted to get to know. Let’s get started!

Nestled in the Mills 50 district of Orlando, Lure Design is an award winning design firm run by Jeff Matz, Paul Mastriani, and Sarah Collins. Lure has churned out some beautiful looking goods. You name it and they've done it. Advertising, books, brochures, identity, packaging, interactive, and my personal favorite, their posters. I remember going to shows at The Sapphire and seeing their hand pulled silk screened posters hanging from the exposed brick walls. I lusted after every one. Jeff and Sarah were always in the back, drinking a beer and selling these limited edition prints. They've done posters for Wilco, The Flaming Lips, The Decemberists, Elliott Smith, Kinds of Leon, John Vanderslice, and many more. Be sure to check out their goods at the L2 Design Collective store and buy yourself something special.

Last week I featured Jeff Matz, which you can see here. This week Sarah Collins is in the hot seat.

Who do you look up to?

I tend to turn to classic masters such as Alvin Lustwig\Saul Bass, just because they are awesome and Ray Eames, because I believe she never got the credit she deserved. There is so much good and smart work out there these days, I tend to lookup to anyone I see doing the hustle.

Do you have a favorite book?

Dune, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Lord of the Rings, Leaves of Grass and Edgar Allen Poe are books I've always returned to and probably shaped me in some way. As an adult I read mostly non-fiction about working smarter or being a better person, which shapes me but nearly not as much I'm sure.

Favorite place to eat in Orlando?

Can I combine several restaurants to make that meal? Artichokes + trout from Hillstone, truffle fries from Ravenous Pig, hush puppies from Winter Park Fish Co.  Always in a great hunt for good Mexican food. My husband and I recently traveled to Dunedin, FL and found a great restaurant, Casa Tina, if you're ever over that way.


If you could mate two different species of animals what would they be?

A wolf and a bear. That would be intense.

What gives you inspiration?

Do-gooders, art, nature, travel, and bookstores.

If you had a chance to live in a different decade, what decade would you choose?

I had this thought lately as I recently was looking through vintage photos. The time we live in is amazing with technology, and in our world, social media, but it's so much - at times I wish I was sitting on a back porch in 1954 drinking lemonade, living a simpler life. But then I say "What the hell!" and work on making things simpler in the time we live in now.


What in your personal life has influenced you to choose your career?

I consider myself an eager learner and being a creative lends itself to that. This week I've learned about kid's hockey and Hollywood's famous drinkers. I also love a good spirit/humorous attitude, and turning that into a witty approach to design, which is super fun when working on our card company, L2 Design Collective.

How do you balance your personal and professional life?

Professionally as long as I'm able to work with great people, create daily, and live a balanced life in and out of the studio, I feel successful. Some days I fail miserably. Creatives never stop. Finding balance can often be frustrating and is an ongoing battle. This year I've juggled working full time with a new baby, setting some priorities and making time for what is important is a must.


Is there anything you haven't done yet that you feel compelled to achieve in the future?

Being more versatile, but isn't that what people always say?  I would also like to productize more of our work, seriously designing a set of sheets would get me excited. Secretly I just want to do something that blows people's minds. Or at least have the confidence that I could.  My husband bought me an electric guitar for Christmas that I still haven't found the time to learn. Maybe I'll blow people's ears one day instead!

What are your other interests?

Music and screen printing both make my heart explode. And lest not forget great Mexican food.

What rejuvenates you?

Awesome family and friends who make me look forward to tomorrow, iced coffee, travel, and admittedly a good sushi and sake have made me cry happy tears.