(and changed the way I view it)

“While it may seem small, the ripple effect of small things is extraordinary.”

-Matt Bevin

Before I was a photographer, I was a bright eyed teenage rock-star.

The father of one of my friends had a Marshall JCM 900 amp head and an Ampeg 4x12 speaker cab in his attic and was looking to sell. In essence, this in layman's terms would equate to a “100 watts of extra loud guitar amplification.” Being the broke but bright eyed teenager I was, I didn’t have the outrageous three hundred dollars he was asking for the amp. The combo of amp and cab today sells for around $2,000-$3,000, but it may have well been a million. My dad stepped up and bought the set up for me, oblivious of the havoc I would unleash upon him. I spent a lot of time playing on that amp. I used it for guitar, and unfortunately I also used it as a microphone amplifier which ended in it’s death. So the amp died.

Lets speed this story up and jump a few years forward to 2012.

In early 2012 I was working part time for just above minimum wage, renting a house with bills that exceeded my income, and dealing with the idea that I was rowing a boat uphill. With no substantial income for extra purchases or savings, I came up with a largely frivolous idea. I wanted to buy a “real” camera.

Up until this point I had carried around point and shoots and cellphone cameras, but I was ready to be serious about learning this art. I put the aforementioned broken Marshall amp on Ebay for $800. Nothing, not a single bite. Then for $700, again, nothing. I put the amp back up in a last ditch effort again for $600 and about an hour later I received a message from a person interested in purchasing and restoring the amp. $500, top offer. I sold, packaged, and shipped the amp that day. Logged into my Ebay account and found the first “real” camera I could find, an old Canon XT camera with basic lens, bag, and accessories. And my journey into photography started…. And I really sucked.

I photographed everything and brought the camera everywhere though. It became my best friend, and my coping mechanism through periods of unemployment, divorce, homelessness. I bought old film lenses for cheap (bad idea) and as time went on I sold that camera, upgraded, and continued on with the journey. I began doing small shoots for friends. Maternity, newborns, landscape, engagements, weddings, etc. It became a natural appendage for me, like another set of eyes to view the world in a calmer and more focused way. Through my introversion and depression the camera allowed me to interact with others, to experience their moments of joy, happiness, love. It gave me the chance to document things that I would have otherwise disqualified myself from experiencing.

When my high school dog passed away I was able to look at the pictures I had of her. When my grandfather passed away I was able to dig through the digital library and pull images I had taken from visits with him. When my father passed away however it was a real struggle to find images that I had of him. He was rather reclusive as is, and was never quite fond of me shoving a camera in his face for pictures. So I was left with only a couple. Fortunately for the traditions of the past I was given a Tupperware container of images of my father as a teenager and from the years during and after my birth. Precious photos that preserve the memory of my dad in a physical form.

Looking back, the small action of my dad buying me a guitar amp as a teenager resulted in my ability to buy a camera, and eventually that camera led me to a point of self sufficiency. It changed the way I view life. When I’m photographing weddings, family portraits, and newborn photos, I know these are the memories that will be preserved long after the people in the photos are gone.

I’m under no disillusion that my father knew that a purchase like that would ripple and effect the way I live years down the road, but that doesn’t stop me from being thankful. And somewhere out there, someone is rocking out on a really loud amp.