A look back at my first paying photo job…EVER!

Those that know me personally, know that I am a very reflective person. I enjoy looking back on the past in appreciation of the present moment. It is amazing to think about how many different experiences, moments, relationships, jobs or missed opportunities brought you to where you are today. It should then not be a surprise that I would look back on my first paid photography job ever.

So there I was, sweating in the middle of the small village of Kerewong, Thailand, wondering how I got here. As I ran back and forth, amongst the parade of villagers celebrating Melanie & Teo’s wedding, I laughed at the thought of how this whole thing came about. I had been teaching myself photography for nearly three months while living in Vancouver, BC when I decided on a whim that I had to explore South East Asia. Three days later I had bought myself a one way ticket to Bangkok, Thailand, fully aware that I had no idea what I was doing or how I was going to make things happen.

You see, I knew I was in love with traveling, with exploring the world. I loved to idea of experiencing contrasting ways of life to what I thought I knew. I had started traveling internationally at 17 when I went to Costa Rica for a habitat for humanity type of cause. At the time, I hated it. I was there in the middle of summer…building schools, tearing down houses and building irrigation lines. It was hot….ridiculously hot actually. I remember complaining alot as I sat in the shade, where it was 110 degrees rather then 120. But it was in retrospect that that trip truly opened my eyes to a world outside of my own walls. I enjoyed being out of my comfort zone. I loved the chaos of travel. The excitement is discovering new things. But it wasn’t until I graduated from college and was looking for a new path that I found my love of photography.

Trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, I sold or gave away most of my things and moved to Vancouver, BC. It was in the woods around Point Roberts that I became fascinated with photography. I bought myself an Canon Rebel xti and picked up just about every book on photography I could find. Bryan Peterson’s “Understanding Exposure” is still the book I recommend to anyone looking to get into photography. After a few months of teaching myself the basics and shooting most of British Columbia, I decided that I needed to explore all that South East Asia had to offer.

So before I knew it, I was waiting to board the plane that was going to take me for an adventure of a life time. Little did I know that I was going to land my first photography job before the plane even landed in Thailand. As the plane took off, I was looking through one of my photography magazines when I started to make small talk with the woman next to me. Her name was Melanie and she was from Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I climber by nature, she had been visiting Ton Sai beach in Thailand, one of the premiere limestone climbing meccas in the world for years. However this past year she had fallen in love with a local Thai, Teo. They were getting married in his village in a month, but she had a problem. She had no photographer, as a friend had backed out at the last minute. It was sometime over the course of the next 15 hours that I managed to get my first paying photography job, to shoot a traditional Thai Buddhist wedding in a remote village in the South of Thailand. As they say…the rest is history.

It was an amazing experience that I will never forget. I want to thank Melanie and Teo for giving me the opportunity to show what I was capable of. My photography work has certainly progressed since that day, but who knows how life would of turned out if things did not work out the way they did. They now have a child together, Railey, who was born on September 2nd of 2008. They currently live in the Seattle area.


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