I wish I had an original print from Ansel Adams. Back in the days of film, I started shooting a 35mm camera when I was 13, developing my pictures and I learned how to develop pictures reading a book about the zone system. Ansel Adams developed a way to expose the film and develop the prints called the zone system. In the darkroom as a kid, I operated by reading his book and following what he taught. He was dedicated to the entire process of the photograph. Nowadays it’s easy to be lazy being in the world of digital photography, where everyone has a camera in their hand. Ansel Adams was a testament to the entire process of photography.
What are you working on right now?
You might’ve seen Milo Farineau photographing small local music festivals like The Festy and Crozet Music Festival, where, with collaborators, he’s working on a book called The Festival Project. The book will chronicle the modern festival-going experience, "from vendors and organizers to bands and their fans."
Right now I’m working on a photobook with my friend Chester Simpson and my wife, Diane, about the rising popularity of festivals. Chester and I were camping and photographing festivals on our own, and he turned to me and said, “Let’s do a book!” And I said, “Are you serious?” He said, “Yeah, yeah! Let’s do a book.” My wife does some writing for NPR and she loves the whole idea and was immediately interested in doing the writing.
I’m 46 years old and there weren’t three different music festivals every weekend throughout the spring and summer like there are now. There were a few, but you went to go see a band. I used to go see the Grateful Dead and we’d go camping all the time in the parking lots, but they hit a point around 1989 where they just stopped letting that happen. Before you used to pull into your spot, camp there, pop the top of your Volkswagen camper, put up your tent and be there till the next day. That ended. Now it’s very different.
Tell us about your day job.
I’m the Director of Information Technology for a company based in Charlottesville. I work at the corporate office— that’s what I do in the daytime.
What is your first artistic memory from childhood?
I went to preschool in Columbia, South Carolina,and one year and I colored a picture of the Easter Bunny and the teacher told me it was terrible. She tore it up and threw it in the trash. I cried all the way home. I’m not kidding you.
If you could have dinner with any person, living or dead, who and why?
Lewis and Clark after their expedition. That’s one of the great adventure stories in American history. How they did what they did back then, with what they had back then. Taking that core of people across the country and back through all that and not losing anyone to environmental causes. The word “adventure” is overused. That was a true adventure.
Item you’d splurge on?
I’d splurge on a good lens any day.
Do you have any superstitions about your art?
I don’t know if they’re superstitions, but there are some hard and fast rules. Don’t show your bad stuff, only show your good stuff. Be kind to all other photographers. When I’m at an event shooting I always love to talk to the other photographers. It’s not a competition, we all need to stick together.
What is a concert, exhibit or show that has recently inspired you?
Chester’s mentor is a famous photographer he met in California named Jim Marshall who recently passed away. Going through his life work, looking at a lot of stuff he did in music at the time, that was just very, very inspiring. [Marshall’s most famous photographs are ones of Johnny Cash giving the middle finger at San Quentin, and Jimi Hendrix lighting his guitar on fire at the Monterey Pop Festival.]
What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?
I’d be a full-time photographer. It’s just very difficult nowadays.