A friend and up and coming videographer asked me the other day, “What inspires you?”

There are absolute answers but they feel cliché. Mother Nature, human creations and God’s work all inspire me of course. The beauty of a sunset, the architecture of the ancient Romans and the love between a Bride and her Groom the first time they see each other at their wedding… While these answers are absolutely true, it’s almost a ‘softball’ answer that a politician would give… you know, “I think babies are great!” (…OF COURSE you do!)

Giving the question some thought, I came up with two individuals whom I consider an inspiration to my freelancing career.

In an era where everyone seems to be a ‘professional’ photographer, Briana Gray of Shades of Gray Photography is a model professional. Her passion and drive to grow a successful business is not only standing the test of time but is flourishing, even in what many are experiencing as a very difficult economy. I shot with Briana when she just started out in the wedding business and remember her willingness to learn and take the next steps in her business. I believe that she and I have always been great photographers but she excelled at vision where I excelled at the techy side. This combination of skills helped create amazing photographs for many couples. Unfortunately, to “make it” as a business, amazing photographs are not enough. Sadly any artist must be more than an artist. They must be business minded and have courage to take risks. This year Briana’s husband retired from his work to focus more on Shades of Gray with Briana and that, to me, is a significant next chapter for their business. Congratulations Briana!

I hope that Briana always remembers me as her ‘geek’ and I will always view her as a photographer with drive, passion, and courage.

On to my second inspiration… If you have enough uncles, you have the experience of the world…

The other person who has played a monumental role in my freelance life is my Uncle Dave. Dave worked as a DJ when I was in middle school so instantly he was a cool uncle. He moved to television when I was in Jr. High and in my sophomore year he helped with a project that would change my life. In chemistry we were assigned to do a written report with an accompanying oral presentation and some sort of visual. The subject: one element from the periodic table, my element was nitrogen. I wrote the report, did the oral presentation, and asked for an extension on my visual aid… after all, it was going to be a short film!! This was 1995, when MOBILE phones didn’t even have digital signals and the word digital itself wasn’t even used in video. We shot on tapes man! I got my storyboard, shot my b-roll, did my interviews and needed a way to make it all… happen. Enter Uncle Dave, the use of Fox studios in Tulsa, and a 6 hour day over Thanksgiving break. We did visual effects, music editing, graphics, cut everything together and out came a 6 minute video that would be my first real video project. The seed was planted. I hope it was at least a little fun for Dave and not ‘work’ because it was like going to Disney World for me.

I ended up going into college as a triple major in accounting, economics and finance. Three subjects that I really do enjoy, but two and a half years into school I switched majors to Commercial Graphics.  When I called Dave to tell him, his response, ‘Oh thank God.’ And in that instance, I realized he never, not once, questioned my original choice in majors.

Uncle Dave has worked with TV stations, worked on a feature film, and now for the past few years has been enjoying life making music videos in Dallas. When you talk to him, you hear the passion and excitement in his voice that we should all aspire to have about our careers.

If it weren’t for you Uncle Dave, I’d be working in a cubical on some company’s taxes.

Thank you.


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