Lives & works in New York city, NY
I always wanted to be a National Geographic photographer. I envisioned adventurous assignments that included long, bumpy rides across African plains; steep, snowy hikes up Tibetan mountainsides; fireside dances in the jungles of Suriname. There I’d be with the locals, camera hanging around my neck, drinking fermented camel milk in a yurt. And when I got back, I’d hand off my negatives to the lab rats and wait for my genius to appear, framed by the famous goldenrod yellow of the Nat Geo cover.
Of course it’s at this point, in the movies, where you hear that screeching sound of the needle being yanked off the record.
Instead of pursuing photography as a profession, I went to college and got a degree in engineering. Turns out, it was the best decision I ever made. As glamorous as a career in photography sounds, the assignments are rarely as adventurous as you hope, and the mosquitoes are often bigger than the paychecks.
I no longer work as an engineer and, over the past decade, I’ve been able to travel to many Nat-Geo-worthy places including Madagascar, Suriname, Kazakhstan, South Africa, Rwanda, Peru, Tahiti and New Zealand. And I’ve brought my camera with me. Photography is my avocation rather than my vocation, so I get to do it on my own terms. I find my own stories, pay for my own travel, make up my own rules and hand off my negatives – well, my digital memory cards – to myself. To add a cherry to the sundae, I sometimes take real National Geographic photographers with me.
If you want a moral to the story, it’s this: even if it’s not your job, the adventure of photography is for everyone. That, and fermented camel milk tastes better than you'd think.