Drew is leaving the studio. (His account below.) As I always say, Drew grew up as a drummer in a rock and roll band, but abandoned that unstable lifestyle to embrace the security of freelance photography. And we here at the studio are certainly glad he did. He stayed with us for five years, and was a mainstay as a first assistant, constantly troubleshooting, solving problems, handling the mysteries of post-production and generally being a great road companion, and we certainly saw a lot of road together. (When he joined the studio, he was just another Delta frequent flyer. As he leaves, he is Delta Diamond, having logged easily a half million air miles during his tenure here.) He was a great team player, a talented shooter, and he fit right in with the twisted humor and irreverent conduct of the studio. (FYI, we have no human resources department here.) We will miss him. I will miss him, as beyond all the stuff listed above, he became my good and true friend.
Today’s blog is about Joe. And me.
A real life bro-mance, dream job come true, happily ever-after, fly me to the moon kind of working relationship I’ve experienced over the past 5 years.
He’s one of the few people I know in the industry who’s stayed afloat for 35+ years, has maintained a huge level of respect within the industry and – through it all – has kept a good head on his shoulders. He’s truly one of the most decent human beings I know. Full of integrity, courage, wit and an ongoing quest for pasta and red wine, Joe has taught me much more than just ‘the ropes’.
(My first ever tear sheet, accompanying Joe’s Power Grid story in National Geographic)
We all know the life of a photographer isn’t a 9 to 5 gig, but working with Joe is one of the more all-encompassing workplace scenarios one could imagine. Joe and I have spent a lot of time together, and by that I mean an average of 70% of the year on the road, and sometimes a good deal more. That means not only working in the field, but traveling together, eating together and often seeing more of each other than our significant others and families.
(The Flash Bus crew)
Working with Joe has been a major turning point in my career. Prior to joining Joe I was a young photographer/musician living in a relatively small town and earning a living shooting mostly weddings and events. I didn’t have a whole lot of clarity of where to go from there. I started applying to graduate schools for photojournalism – and in the midst of all that – Joe’s former assistant (Brad Moore) was leaving and Joe offered me the position. My game plan was to work with Joe for two years. As time went on, more travel came upon us and I just couldn’t help but to sign on for more adventure and experience. I got to climb the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world; I had my own helicopter and pilot while on assignment for National Geographic; and was once lead by a heavily armed militia through traffic in Nigeria. That’s just a glimpse into the countless extraordinary, hilarious and sometimes dangerous tales I have from the past few years.
(Cali and I surrounded by drones, on-location for National Geographic. By the way, Cali’s a great guy, and an incredibly talented shooter. He’s done an amazing job transitioning into the first assistant position, and I can’t begin to say how excited I am to hear about his travels.)
But even at the highest points in my time with Joe, Lynn and the entire studio family, I couldn’t help but feel a bit of an inner struggle. As amazing as things have been, all I’ve wanted is to be a full-time photographer, and I’ve felt the itch to go out on my own more recently, especially in the last year. The thing is, I’ve had the absolute best apprenticeship I could have ever hoped for: Joe has been an amazing mentor, Lynn has balanced me with business smarts, and I’ve been immersed into the culture of the best and brightest photo talent in the World. I’ve also had the opportunity to travel around the Globe and back again. The thing is, if I didn’t want/need to be my own photographer, I could work with Joe happily for a very, very long time.
(Rolling Stone tear sheet, from the March, 2013 issue)
But the time has come for me and I’m now officially off on my own: with more clarity than I had five years ago, lots of contacts in the industry, tons of technical know-how and hands-on experience from working with one of the best guys out there. If there was ever to be a good time to make that move, it feels like this is it, and I’m incredibly excited to create a body of work that’s all my own. Even with all that, i’m just as scared as I am excited to embark on this journey into the world of freelance photography. Yes, I’m absolutely going to figure it out, like all things I do. I am more passionate about photography than anything else. I know it’s going to take some time to gain traction and that my future may hold nights of Ramen noodles and Hot Pockets. But I’m ok with it.
(John Butler of John Butler Trio)
I became interested in photography at a young age through a love of live music. Back then I just wanted to capture live moments from my favorite bands. Over time my work has improved and a true passion towards music, photography and their marriage remains to this day. Most recently I’ve been trying to evolve my work away from live music and into a fresh perspective. I’m not changing the world and I’m not reinventing the wheel, but every now and again I feel like I’m onto something really good. It’s in those moments I feel as though I’ve moving a step closer towards crafting a unique aesthetic that’s my own.
(Tyler Glenn of The Neon Trees)
Choosing to work for Joe was the best career decision I had made up until that point, and I’m certain that i’ll be able to look back upon this transition in a few years, and say the same thing.
(My incredibly patient girlfriend, Jessica)
Joe, Lynn, Cali, Lynda, Annie: You’ve all been the best friends, colleagues and family one could ever ask for, and I’m grateful for the time and memories we’ve shared.
It’s been a blast to meet and get to know lots of you out on the road, and I invite you all to keep in touch.
You can find me at any of these places: