I became a photojournalist because I was, and continue to be, moved by real life.

In my family photography work, I advocate for a documentary approach because photographs of genuine connection with family, friends and life in general are inherently more interesting, and remain significant longer, than photographs that are controlled.

As a photo instructor, I teach people how to create exceptional photographs from the things in the world that make an impact on them.

Life For Real is the name of my studio because I believe capturing, preserving and sharing real life – as it it found, observed and experienced – fulfills the highest purpose of photography.


Memories are tied to things that made an emotional impact on us. Photography that captures those events, and the people involved, has the ability to trigger those memories any time they are viewed. This is what makes real-life photography so powerful … the ability to perpetuate memories and emotions tied to significant events.

We can have beautiful photographs made of us and of people we love, and we can appreciate and enjoy them on an aesthetic level. But the images have no particular weight themselves because they are not tied to any significant personal memories.


The upside of controlled photography – whether that’s in portraits or wedding photography – is that you can be assured of receiving the best photographs your photographer is capable of creating. This is true because the photographer is controlling the situation to ensure a good result.


As a photojournalist, I take a documentary approach … making pictures of what naturally unfolds in a given situation, without inserting myself and controlling what I’m witnessing in an effort to “make things better.” I work this way because I believe that once I interrupt what is happening, I interrupt and destroy whatever memory was in the process of being created. And, to me, that is the whole point of photography.


Neither approach is inherently better than another. Controlled photographs excel at presenting an idealized version of life - us, alone or with our loved ones, represented at our best. Documentary photographs represent us at our most authentic, recording our actual life as we are living it … in all it’s messy and wonderful imperfection.


If you don’t already have an answer for this, think of how you tend to photograph people, whether it’s with a camera or your phone.
Do you prefer pictures that are posed, so everyone looks their best?
Or, do you like to pictures that are more candid … life as it’s actually happening.
When you look thru your photographs, which ones evoke the strongest feelings?

So … the most helpful thought I can leave you with is this: hire a photographer whose work aligns with the photographs you enjoy most. Because, in the end, how YOU feel about the photograph is the only yardstick that matters.