The Northwest has a very distinctive feel. After 18 years of rain, Subaru Foresters and "Keep Portland Weird" bumper stickers I was ready for something new. Acting on a hunch that I would like Maine, I committed to going to Colby College, a small liberal art school, having never visited. It was a culture shock. I had never heard of Nantucket, Lacrosse, or seen pearl earrings. Colby was very much those things. I loved Maine's coastline and its rugged mountains, but after four years, I wanted to see something completely different. A week after graduating, I moved to Manhattan and started working at Ralph Lauren. I love New York. Few cities have such a diverse and energetic population as New York.
My friend Evan Daniel first got me interested in photography on a cross-country road trip in the summer of 2008. He had a Canon SLR and I borrowed it from him one afternoon in Colorado. I had a clear idea of what I wanted the photos to look like but I didn't have a clue how to use it. Evan walked me through the basics. I was hooked.
A Restless Transplant started as a way for me to share ideas and photos I was taking of Maine with friends and family. I had just bought a digital camera (a Canon XSI), and didn't have a good way to share my photos.
The Burning House grew out of my interest in people's relationship to things and what these relationships say about them. In April I started asking friends what things they would take with them if their house was on fire, and then started the site shortly thereafter. What people would take says a lot about their interests, values and backgrounds. I'm currently working on a book based around the concept that will be out next summer. !t Books is Publishing it.
The biggest adventures I have been on were snowboarding trips when I was in high school. My two best friends at the time, Nick Dirks and Jarad Hadi and I would fill my Jeep with our boards and a few bags of clothes and head towards good snow. Luckily my parents and school were supportive of my snowboarding and would let me take off time from classes to go ride. We were all 16 and 17 at the time, and would head a few thousand miles away on our own. Every few days, I would call my parents and tell them where I was and what we were up to. It was a blast. At the end of high school, I decided to go to college in Maine and Nick and Jarad kept snowboarding. They are both pro-snowboarders now, and have traveled the world because of it.
The most valuable-to-me item I own is my grandfather's Explorer Scout shirt from the late '40s. He gave it to my mom and she passed it on to me. It fits perfectly and could never be replaced.
I just bought a 1987 VW Syncro Vanagon. Syncros were built in the same factory as Unimogs (German troop transports) and only a few thousand were imported into North America in the late '80s and early '90s. I bought mine from a nature photographer in Nevada. Sorry if this is overly nerdy, but it has locking front and rear differentials, all-time four-wheel drive, an Audi engine from a sports sedan, a small kitchen and the back seat turns into a full sized bed. I'm planning on driving around North America for the next year working on my Burning House book and spending a lot more time in the outdoors surfing and fly fishing. In the winter, I will head down to Baja and surf for a month or two.
In the summer, my daily uniform is pair of Nike Frees, cut off chinos and a garment-dyed RRL T-shirt. In the winter, you are most likely to see me in some jeans, a flannel shirt (either 17 cloth or wool) and a pair of boots.
I am surprised everyday. I was really surprised with how fast The Burning House grew from one night to a blog, a project with The Anthropologist, and a book with Harper Collins, all within two months. Life changes fast.
The last time I was really scared was when I was 16 and hiking in Colorado. My family wanted to take a 14-mile hike to the top of a nearby mountain. My best friend, my cousin and I decided to forgo the trail and climb directly up the side of the mountain. It was very fun until we started scrambling up a rockslide so steep that there was no way we could come back down. After we made it to the top we walked down a few ridges with thousand-foot drop offs on either side before finding the trail. For 20 minutes, we thought we were going to have to try to backtrack down the rock slide. I was also scared two years ago when I was surfing a reef break in Nicaragua and got held down by a large set. When I finally came up, the fish were going ape shit running from a larger predator. Two of my friends saw shark fins cruising around and we bee-lined it back a quarter mile to the beach. I miss being scared, that's one of the reasons I am leaving my corporate design job.
I'm dyslexic, and learning to read and write was very challenging for me. I eventually learned to read at my grade level in fifth grade. My teachers in elementary school weren't familiar with dyslexia and just assumed that I was lazy and unintelligent. Eventually my parents sent me to a specialist and I started meeting with a tutor for an hour a day for two years. Learning to work with my dyslexia taught me to believe in myself and be very dedicated.
I had always been into clothes and the aesthetics, but never considered studying fashion or art. My junior year of college, I wanted an internship doing something totally different from anything I had done before and hassled Alex Carleton at Rogues Gallery until he gave me one. At about the same time, I started taking photos and posting them to A Restless Transplant. The following spring a designer at Ralph Lauren saw some of my pictures and sent me an email. That email led to an internship the summer between my junior and senior year of college and that internship led to a job.
I majored in Science, Technology and Society. It's a quintessential liberal arts major. I took a lot of history classes, anthropology classes, a handful of science classes and then a class on the development of the internal combustion engine and scientific revolutions in the 15th century. It was a blast.
Outside of my family, I really like Mark Knopfler's music, Sergio Leone's films and Flannery O'Conner's writing.
I always have my canon 5d Mark II, my wallet and my phone and headphones.
Hopefully I will figure that out someday.