I was a curious teenager when I picked up a camera for the first time and felt the rush of becoming a visual storyteller. It wasn’t until I became a combat photographer that the wheels really started turning. My mentor, PH1 Bobby McRill, taught me the true meaning of photojournalism: “A photojournalist captures moments that can make people laugh, cry, get angry, start or end wars. No one else can duplicate what that photographer captures.”
But it wasn’t until Bobby was killed in action that I truly understood his passion for his craft. He died doing what he loved, and I promised to be just as passionate and to pass on the knowledge to younger photographers. My passion grew as my work was published and I traveled to places like Haiti, Guyana, Nicaragua, and Cuba to tell their stories.
My job of capturing moments that could influence nations or the world was my definition of photojournalism. There were mistakes, yelling, late nights, frustrating hours, and tons of stress that molded me into the photographer I am today. My experiences documenting starving children, fellow service members, people who lost their homes, and detainees in Guantanamo Bay touched my soul and showed me that there was more to photography than just taking a picture. It opened my heart to emotionally connect and tell a great story.
Now, as a civilian, I incorporate my unique photojournalism style into my studio, commercial, and fashion photography shoots. I never capture posed reactions; I always capture something natural and wonderful. I find true beauty in those split-second reactions. Everyone has a natural elegance and beauty, and it’s my job to bring it out with humor, honesty, and passion.