Maybe you've wondered what my origin story is as a photographer. I, for one, am an "origins" person. I like history, genealogy, geology, and the timing of "firsts" and "lasts." It all comes together to make us known on a deeper level as individuals and as a people.
Half of my lineage comes from northern France by way of Acadia, the other half comes from Sicily and Italy in the Mediterranean. Hence, I ended up with a funny shade of pale olive skin and freckles that doesn't tan well, and I'm only 5'2".
The French came by boat to Acadia in the 1600's to be fur trappers and settle new land. These Acadians made their way to southern Louisiana through escape and expulsion after some unpopular rules were enforced by the British crown during their claim to these northern French lands by way of several wars. My ancestors from warmer climates came in the 1800's to areas outside of and within New Orleans that were already American. These two bloods, the Mediterranean and Acadian, mixed in the Deep South, where I became a known as Cajun.
I began studying photography at the University of New Orleans in 2001 and was one of the last few generations of students before the digital wave, meaning every roll of film I shot was reeled in a pitch-black closet and printed under the amber light in a darkroom. I was one of the midnight warriors, making my way in the darkness to have the place all to myself late at night to make prints on silver halide paper. Only a couple of other determined warriors joined me at this time of day.
I was on the slow path to graduation, working two jobs while studying with a goal of graduating debt free, and by 2005 I was only a junior at age 24. That August, Katrina sent us out of class and her destructive forces were the beginning of a really cool and empowering survival experience for me that began with swimming out of my front door in fins and towing my two roommates from India out with me on a Home Depot extension cord. It ended with me getting a plane ticket from Salt Lake City to Eugene as part of payment for working with a New Orleans record store's van that followed the Warped Tour. We set up big tents at each new city from Arizona to Utah. I stood outside selling punk chains and hemp necklaces, while the rest of the crew sold custom band t-shirts made on the spot under the tent.
I had fallen in love with what little I knew about Oregon the year prior, having been a skateboarder and wanderer in a state where wandering meant you needed a boat to get to the best spots and skating meant riding pot-hole-ridden streets, giant oak tree roots lifting up sidewalks over 6 inches in some places, and absolutely no outdoor skate parks. So I took the chance to get myself out to Oregon on a "refugee" status that offered me in-state tuition to the University of Oregon in Eugene. Living through Martial Law was not fun, and I'm glad Oregon stepped up for us!! I was exited to head for a state that had rocky basalt cliffs and desert, all in one.
At that point, I was getting around mostly on foot and by bike. I got my New Orleans bike as a rescue from a garbage heap in Baton Rouge on a family visit prior to the hurricane. It had a sweet custom bandanna seat that I designed and a Little Rascals sticker on the stem. Sadly, Buckwheat drowned in the flood waters, chained to my porch. When I got to college in Oregon, I borrowed a bike from my driving college roommate until I got Fiend. Fiend was designed by the Cadillac car company (strange, I know) and had some really crazy structure that only fitted BMX fenders, so I felt like I was on a half-motorcycle on the road.
Oregon was more than the beauty I could conjure in my head. I knew I had come to where I wanted to be when I started to check out my surroundings between classwork. The sensations I experienced being around my first Northwest waterfall were of total relaxation and triggered some sort of animal sensuality. We were barefoot, we jumped from the top, we were free.
Oregon became forest hiking, mountain climbing, sea cave exploring, and beach camping on the weekends with my house-mates. I found out beer tasted better in these places, but I still drank the cheap stuff a couple more years until I tried PNW craft beer. There were so many choices!
After living here now for over ten years, I can say I've seen a lot of the Cascadian coast and hiked many trails, but I feel like I've only tapped into a tiny bit of the natural beauty it has to share with us, and I am so glad to live here with the purpose and intention of exploring as much as I can with a camera and bringing that beauty into our everyday lives. I live for those moments, being out there. And I am greatly satisfied when my image pleases you!