I grew up in the States moving around every two to three years. My Dad was a Submarine Captain, so we lived all over the place from the Florida Keys to Hawaii. Moving around put the nomad spirit into me, and really made me appreciate traveling and meeting new people. After high school, I went to music school in Pennsylvania. I wanted to be a professional musician. When reality hit me what the music industry is really like, I switched gears and transferred to the University of Florida with a NROTC Scholarship. I decided to follow my Dad’s footsteps in the Navy…not as a submariner, but as a pilot. I always had a fascination with flying, so entered flight school after graduating from the University of Florida in 1985. Flight school was the most challenging thing I have ever done. After many struggles, I earned my “Wings of Gold” as a helicopter pilot in 1987…proudest moment in my life! I was then assigned to “The RAG” in San Diego where I learned to fly the HH-46 (BIG helicopter…similar to the Chinook, but smaller), and after training was sent to Guam. While I was at the University of Florida, I became an avid SCUBA diver…every spare moment I had was spent diving. Being stationed in Guam was like heaven to me…great diving!! I continued to dive in my spare time wracking up many hundreds of dives. I also became a certified PADI SCUBA instructor while in Guam.
Just before the first gulf war, I was scheduled to go to sea for a 6-month cruise. I had my flight physical just before departure. To make a long story short, I had problems with my colon (which later turned into cancer), and was found unfit to fly anymore in the Navy, so was medically retired from the Navy. The cancer came many years later, and after two surgeries, radiation and Chemo, I am now (thankfully) cancer free….almost 5 years cancer free!!
I moved back to the States, worked as a waiter in Orlando, and went back to school to obtain my teacher’s certificate. A year later, I was placed in a public school in South Miami as a Math Teacher. It was not a pleasant experience for me. After being saluted every day in the Navy, I was not used to kids selling and taking drugs, kids getting arrested, and kids living on the streets. I lasted a year teaching in those conditions, but wanted more from my life. I quit my teaching job in Miami, and moved to the island of Kauai in Hawaii to teach SCUBA at the Hyatt Regency Kauai. Ah, now THAT was the life!! I worked only four days a week, and my work (if you can call it that) was hanging at the pool and beach with hotel guests teaching SCUBA and diving up to four times a day. I would still be there if not for Hurricane Iniki that hit the island of Kauai in 1992. It really hit hard…really hard. With the hotel out of commission, I was out of a job again.
Yadda yadda yadda….long story after my time in Hawaii…after a year in Atlanta teaching SCUBA in a dive shop and running dive trips to the Caribbean, and a year back in my hometown in the Florida Keys managing a beach operation, I ended up in a small city of 2 million, four hours south of Beijing, China.
Living in China during the early 1990’s was an experience I will never forget. I took some fabulous trips all over China from the tropical South West to the freezing North to the mountains in the North West. My last trip took me through Tibet and overland to Nepal. Welcome to South East Asia! Little did I know at the time that Asia would become my home for the next 20 years. I enjoyed traveling throughout the region to India, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Singapore and Vietnam, and close to a year later, I ended my journey in Bali, Indonesia. Out of a job once again, I landed a teaching job at Jakarta International School in 1995. I spent 1995 in Jakarta, then worked two years in Seoul, Korea. I returned to Jakarta in 1998 just as the riots in Jakarta were at their peak…interesting times for sure! I am still here in Jakarta now teaching Photography at Jakarta Intercultural School (our name was changed two years ago). I have a fantastic wife and kids, and a nice house we built here a few years back!! Life is good!!
By the way, having Cancer was a life changing experience for me. By no means do I recommend it to you, but having a near death experience really does change your life. For one thing, I never take life for granted. It goes by so quickly, and I cherish every moment I have on this Earth. I have learned to love more, enjoy my family and friends, and never miss an opportunity for FUN. Life is too short to have a bad day, so I don’t have them. A good friend of mine always used to say, “drive fast and take chances”…a good motto for sure!
I have been taking photos since I was a little kid. My Grandmother gave me a Pentax K1000 when I was still in Elementary School. I have been hooked on photography ever since…that makes close to 40 years of taking photographs!! I was one of those last hold-outs for film…just couldn’t believe that the quality of a digital print could ever match that of a print made in the dark room. I think it was 1990 or maybe earlier when I attended a convention for computers and cameras, and saw my first digital print made from a drum scan. I was truly amazed, but the technology available at the time to produce a print like that was so prohibitively expensive, that I thought it would never be affordable for a guy like me, so I stuck with my film. My friends were all out buying point and shoot digital cameras, but I never took them seriously, and stuck with my expensive Nikon F5, and thought only film shooters were to be taken seriously.
Then Nikon came out with the D1X….their first professional digital camera….5.4 Megapixels!! Who in the world would ever need FIVE POINT FOUR MEGAPIXELS?? It was unheard of…and the price was close to 5 grand for that camera. I bought one after seeing a print made from one of its files…on a printer that I could afford. I was sold. Film?? What’s that?? I kept my Nikon film camera for underwater work, but converted everything to the digital realm…!! Since the D1X, I have owned the D2X, the D70, the D2H, the D300, the D700, the D800, the Leica M9, and now currently using the Sony A7R2. (see My Gear Page for more info on my equipment).
Underwater has always been my passion. I have over 5000 logged dives, and most every one of those dives, I had a camera with me. Underwater photography in the “old days” was not easy. It was nothing like it is today. I would take over a hundred rolls of film with me on a dive trip, and if I was lucky, I MIGHT have gotten 20 good shots…and they had to be perfect “in camera” as we didn’t have Photoshop to correct exposure, color, or any other mistakes….slide film was relentless…it is what it is, and that’s it….you got it or you didn’t. Digital underwater is just the best thing since sliced bread !!
Today, I am fully digital and LOVE IT. I found NAPP many years ago (now called KelbyOne), and watched every video and tutorial that the “Photoshop Guys” and Scott Kelby produced. I read all of Scott’s books, and attended Photoshop World whenever I could. I have learned a great deal, and I love to teach others what I have learned…that is what photography has become these days…producing and sharing…not just our photographs, but our knowledge.
Three years ago, I launched Last Flight Out Photography. I have been guiding dive trips and other “photography trips” for the last 20 years, and thought it was time to give back, and offer my expertise and knowledge in this part of the world…where to go…what to photograph…with Last Flight Out Photography you can join me in my adventures. There is nothing I enjoy more in life (other than my family) than traveling and taking photos. Last Flight Out Photography is my outlet to share my passion of diving, traveling and photography with others. Last Flight Out Photography also offers weekend workshops in Photography, Photoshop and printing services… I want to help you move your photography to the next level, and maybe learn something from you as well. Photography is an ongoing learning experience, and I am always looking to improve my craft and to help you improve yours.
I hope to meet you someday…if you are ever in this part of the world, do not hesitate to contact me!!