Currently I’m an Associate Professor / Counselor / Instructor at the Fashion institute of Technology and a freelance fine art/commercial photographer in New York City.
My father got me started in photography. He gave me my first camera in junior high school. I was so hooked on working in the darkroom, watching images come to life in the trays. At school, I was not the greatest student, but I knew that I would ace a photo course, so I always took one to raise my grade average. I did this from junior high school through college. While I was at Boston University, my professor kept telling me I had an eye. I knew I loved photography, but being from a working class steel mill family, I did not or could not take him seriously, nor could I admit to myself that this was a possibility for expression. I applied to the New York University Master’s program and got in on the strength of my portfolio. There I learned about photography as an art form.
The flowers are from a series I call "Pop’s Garden." It’s part of a personal evolution. Pop was my ten-year-old cousin who died of AIDS. His mother, my favorite cousin, was a drug user, and he was born with the virus. At the time of his death, I was beginning a successful career as a commercial photographer and had also been starting to show personal work in galleries. At the time, for the first time in my life, I felt helpless and lost. For two years, shooting the flowers kept me going through my grief and brought new meaning to making images. I started to think, “What is photography, really?” and, also, what are the power and the meaning of the image. The flower is life. When you think about the history of the world and its time span, the life span or the season of a flower is no different than our own brief life span. Because flowers are cut, there is a situation of momentary life, like a life span that can be any length—but the whole thing is just a moment.
I had a very successful one-man show in Sydney, Australia, titled Pop’s Garden, backed by Volvo Cars Corporation. The show opened in October, one month after the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center in 2001. The show was very well received by the Australian public and, by default, took on a whole new meaning because of the sorrow and grief that America was going through at that time.