In the fall of 2010, I picked up my first DSLR camera with the hopes of photographing and documenting my final year living in Hawaii. I don’t know what was the overall driving factor that compelled me to become interested in photography, but l assume it was the whole host of life changes that had just occurred and the uncertainty of my future.
In August of 2010, I separated from the United States Navy after 10 years of service and had separated from my ex-wife for about 5 months. If any of you have ever served in the military or gone through a separation (especially with kids involved) you can relate to the stress. Stress has a funny way of opening your eyes to things that might not have been visible when you were comfortable. Shortly after leaving the Navy, I took a contracting job and headed back to Iraq as a Contractor. Prior to leaving for Iraq, I picked up a small Olympus point and shoot camera with the hopes of documenting my time in there.
Arriving in Baghdad was strange. I had deployed a few different times to the middle east during my time in the military. I had spent 6 months in Iraq in 2005 and 1 year in Afghanistan in 2007 but this was different. One of the greatest things about being in the military is the brotherhood that is formed by shared experiences. You didn’t have to be part of the same branch, unit, or even from the same countries military but you felt a bond with those other members. You felt like if something kicked off, your brothers and sisters had your back. As a Government Contractor, that feeling was absent, and reality set in within moments of leaving the plane. As I disembarked the plan, I was directed to a small customs area at Baghdad International Airport. Looking around the room, you could see what used to be a very ornate greeting area that had slipped in to rapid decay. I instinctively reached in to my pocket and pulled out my Olympus camera to take a photo. Unfortunately, I was quickly shutdown by an armed Iraqi military member and couldn’t get the shot. This was the point where my passion for photography abruptly made itself known to me, but I didn’t fully recognize it at that moment.
Life continued for a few years.
On April 15th, 2012, my wife woke me from a nap. She was in labor and it was time for us to head to the hospital. We had prepared for this moment. We quickly gathered our bags, toiletries, and headed out the door. We made it to the car and I had forgotten my wallet. I ran back in to the house and sitting on the counter was my wallet and my camera. It would have been easy for me to overlook the camera and just grab my wallet, but once again I had felt compelled to pick up the camera. This time though, I recognized the feeling and acted. We made our way to the hospital and after hours of labor, my wife gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. The photos I took that day aren’t composed perfectly. They aren’t edited with precision. However, they are some of my most cherished photographs.
Today, I have two more children and document their lives as often as I can. I find beauty in the emotional moments of their childhood and love photographing candid photos of my wife.