When I was about 3 years old my dad died in a car accident. Being the youngest of three boys living on a farm before the digital revolution, we didn’t take a lot photographs. In fact, I’m only aware of one picture made with my dad and I in the same frame. The 2×2 inch piece of paper with us on it was made just a few days before he was killed in a snow storm.
For me, to be in the photography business is to be in the redemption business. What I get to do as a portrait and event photographer is artfully create those 2×2′s for others and redeem things for myself with every shutter. It’s deeply meaningful work.
After starting in weddings about ten years ago, I’ve moved to a more focused commitment to narrative portraiture. Getting close to my subject in meaningful conversations is what I care most about when my camera is in hand. The same is true as a teacher to creative professionals.
While my photography has slowly evolved over the years, I have spent a lot of time creating in other ways too: I’ve written two books for Random House (http://fasttrackphotographer.com). I created the Photographer DNA (pDNA) strengths-based personality test and the Business Stress Test (bST) for photography businesses. I’ve been featured in Rangefinder, Professional Photographer, Shutterbug, Design Aglow, Photojojo and a bunch of other spots. As a speaker, I’ve given keynotes at WPPI, Imaging USA, Photo Plus Expo as well as international events in Brazil, Canada and Asia. I also host a popular podcast each week (http://blog.fasttrackphotographer.com) in conversation with some of the most interesting people I know in and outside of our industry. I also founded the Better Together movement of photographers who actually believe we are better together than in isolation. There are currently about 3000+ photographers meeting in 35+ in-person groups each month around the world. Check out http://j.mp/danespeaking to find out more.
My wife and I, along with our four kids, make our home in Newport Beach, California.
I was drawn to the AfterDark model of educating because of its commitment to implementation. It’s not just someone talking at or broadcasting. It’s about conversation. They facilitate a context where you can’t walk away unchanged. You’re forced to put things into practice the moment you learn something new. Continue that as a habit and the things you learn here will be yours for life. The question really becomes at what level will you immerse yourself? That will determine the trajectory of your success moving forward. I can’t wait to learn together!
How did you get started in the business?
I joined the photography ranks in my early 30′s. As a college professor, a student of mine at the time introduced me to the medium and it slowly grabbed hold of me. In many ways though, I see photography as one tool on the belt of expression and have been looking for ways to create with whatever tool I can get my hands on. Story, writing, photography… they all carry you to other worlds and have the power to transform. Since starting, I’ve been privileged to be influenced by some of the best in the business, many of who I call friends to this day.
What’s your experience with AfterDark?
I’m a proud newbie here at AfterDark although I’ve watched with envy from afar for a long time. My friends at WHCC have been especially in my ear about the unique learning environment AD provides and I couldn’t be more honored or excited about making a contribution. I’ll be giving it my all… you can count on that.
I studied philosophy in graduate school and taught leadership and character development at the collegiate level for about a decade. I also have a degree in business marketing. My passion for teaching is high and my drive to learn is what fueled me being self taught as a photographer. There’s little more exciting than seeing the light go on for someone. It’s like escorting someone to a new part of a mansion and seeing their eyes light up at things they didn’t know were possible.
What are the top 5 skills you’ll be teaching at After Dark?
- Making complex ideas accessible.
- Building brand narrative organically from who you are authentically.
- Systems and productivity.
- Navigating change to unprecedented possibility.
- Creativity as a lifestyle.