I have spent more than half of my life behind a camera. It was never my original intention. In fact, when I was in High School thinking about majoring in Photography I was told that Photography was not a real job and I would never be able to make a living off of it. I was told that I would be wasting my time and I needed to find a real career.
Photography did not want to let me go. When I failed at finding another area to major in at Towson University I majored in Photography. When I graduated from college trying to find a job in event management I found myself working at Disney as a Photographer. When I got laid off from my full time job, I started my wedding photography company. Every moment in my life that I found myself lost and not knowing what to do… there was photography. I’ve kept trying to run away from it but it always comes back to me.
When I am behind the camera I am a superhero of sorts. I capture life. Real moments. Those moments can be filled with joy like a wedding or the birth of a child. They can be filled with adrenaline when I am photographing wildlife sometimes just inches away. Or they can be filled with deep sorrow when I am working on a documentary project.
No matter what I am photographing each click of my camera helps to tell a story. A story of the world and the people and wildlife in it. My work is meant to impact the viewer. To get them to think and see the world as it truly is.
I have been one of the lucky few that has maintained a successful photography career for 10 years. I’ve watched my business grow from shooting weddings and family portraits to being THE photographer for Times Square on New Year’s Eve. I’ve worked with Photographer’s Without Borders to capture stories for non-profit organizations. I’ve won awards both for my wedding and wildlife photography. I had the first article I ever wrote about Trekking with Gorillas published.
Since starting my company 10 years ago, I pushed myself harder and harder every year to get better at my craft. I am training my eye to see past what the average eye sees. Those little details and delicate moments in between.
My story as a Photographer is just beginning….
What makes you passionate about helping Damnok Toek (www.damnoktoek.org)?
I live in a bubble… and so many people around me live in a bubble. We know about trafficking and child labor and children who live and work on the streets. We see commercials or documentaries or some of us may even witness some of it first hand when we travel. For a moment when we see a photo or commercial our minds and hearts feel a passion for these kids. We want to do something but then life gets in the way. The complication and work of actually trying to get involved is too much to add to our already never ending list of things to do. And so like many other things that don’t affect us personally the thought of these children go out of our mind.
I’m tired of just feeling something for a minute. I want to actually do something. I want to make other people feel and hear what is going on in our world. I want to be on the front line capturing images that will tell a story that may not have a happy ending. I want to show what life is like after and give hope to others around the world who have been where these young kids are.
Damnok Toek is saving a generation of children. They are showing these kids there is hope. Teaching them to read or other vocational skills, providing them with medical care and a safe space for rehabilitation.
How do you believe your photography can make a difference for them?
Photography helps to tell a story. Our current generations don’t have time to sit and watch a 3 minute video or read an article. They need instant visual stimulation. Photography can do just that. I want to create images for Damnok Toek that make people stop scrolling and read what’s underneath. I want to create powerful and moving dimensional images that show what Damnok Toek is doing for the children of Cambodia and Thailand. It is my hope that my photography and my experience with Damnok Toek will help to create awareness of what is not only going on in Cambodia but also in our own backyards. I also hope that by sharing images on social media it can help give Damnok Toek some additional attention from sponsors and donors.
What message would you like to send to your supporters?
People keep forgetting that children are our future. They will be the ones who will be taking care of the elders and running the world. We need to make sure they are going down the right path. Learning how to care for each other and our planet. Organizations like Damnok Toek is doing just that. One by one they are helping these little children. Some of these children will do the same for others when they get older or they will become political representations in their country and create laws and regulations that someday will stop child labor and trafficking.