My first camera, at age 8, was a Kodak Target Brownie 6-20 box camera which I used to photograph the contents of microscope slides and the opened backs of pocket watches in my “laboratory” in my parent’s basement.
Later, my photographic “eye” was formed, as a young teen, by absorbing National Geographic magazine, as well as Elliott Porter’s classic photographs – “In Wildness is the Preservation of the World”, published in 1962, by the Sierra Club, who, 30 years later, honored me with their prestigious Ansel Adams Award.
I received the only A in my journalism class at university because I wrote and successfully published an article in Surfer magazine about surfing in the Virgin Islands, complete with surfing photos made with a Yashica Penta J single lens reflex camera given to me years earlier by my aunt.
Her loving gift was unexpected, and unfortunately, that loving seed didn’t sprout til many years later. At the time of her gifting, I was being groomed to be a concert violinist – an endeavor that didn’t make it past the turbulence and mind bending of the Psychedelic Era especially prevalent during my college years in Boston.
While in Boston, I had also taken up the study of Oriental Medicine – massage, acupuncture, moxibustion, diet and meditation. During that time, I became convinced that electromagnetic radiation from fluorescent lighting, power tools – all manner of electric devices – was negatively impacting the bioelectric energy grids of living beings.
After 5 years in Boston, and still convinced of the evil electromagnetic radiation fields, I finally escaped to the Rocky Mountain wilderness of British Columbia to test my theory. There, I lived as far away from the electric grid as I possibly could… 15 dirt road miles deep in the heart of the Canadian Rockies.
I lived in a teepee in all types of conditions – from 8 feet of snow to unrelenting assault by summer mosquitos. I ate mostly rutabagas, rice, beans and scavenged forest greens.
When 9 months had passed, I had survived close encounters of the 3rd kind with black bears, grizzlies, coyotes and badgers. I was running long-hair-bearded-naked through the forests laughing – having profound visions detailing the meaning of life and of enlightened beings in India. Remarkably, there were no “alterative substances” in use… whatsoever.
Soon after, I felt the call to test my “electromagnetically purified condition” and theory of energy fields. I packed everything into the old-overgrown-with-weeds-turquoise-Chevy-pickup and drove an hour to the nearest town. I promptly parked, walked into the modest family size “supermarket” brightly lit with fluorescent light and for the next two minutes felt my brain rapidly become numb and useless.
Convinced that I would pass out and hit my head on a crate of saskatoons, I stumbled back to the parking lot and sat dazed in the truck for 2 – 3 hours, until someone came to ask me if I needed help.
“Yes”, I replied. “Which way to Vancouver?”
500 miles later, I was working in an acupuncture clinic, married, then winning a design award for hand crafted woodworking tools for master luthiers and violin makers, apprenticing as a ship’s chandler building ocean going yachts, had a wonderful kid that I delivered myself (with help from her mother, of course), moved to the US and became a professional yoghurt maker in San Francisco.
During the next ten years I remained convinced that my theories of human bioelectric fields were correct, and as this certainty grew I found myself being approached by a variety of spiritual tutors from different traditions who were trying to recruit me as their successor. They were all quite nice, but not what I had in mind….however…. I didn’t shut the door completely…
Hard times came and went. Marriage failed. I was invited to become a trainer for the Chicago White Sox. Tempting, but the memory of getting stuck in my car there on a freeway overpass in the clutches of an unforgiving winter dissuaded me from further negotiation.
After 10 years had come and gone, along with an assortment of employment vagaries, I received some intriguing information regarding a great yogi who lived deep in the north Indian Himalaya mountain foothills. Upon hearing that news, my knees collapsed underneath me and I hit the ground,…hard. After 10 seconds of soul searching, I decided that there was some reason I had received that information and best to follow up on it.
A few weeks later, I found myself on my face again, this time in the sands of a dried up river bed, prostrating before the most magnificent being I have ever known. I ended up living with him as a yogi-monk in those Himalayan foothills for 7 years. Before he left his body in the mid 80’s, he told me to be a painter and that I would build bridges of silver.
As it turns out film was still being made using silver halide emulsion at that time…
After 7 years, I returned to the US with the desire to share the insight and loving kindness I had received in the Himalayas. I chose the medium of photography. I spent the next few years educating myself, building my dream darkroom, winning a few awards, then later, relearning to photograph digitally and that is, ultimately, how I came to be here writing this blog.
To intimately reconnect humanity’s eyes and hearts with the oft forgotten grace, gesture and healing power of the natural world and to motivate everyone to strip naked and step into the forest, breathe deep and leave all devices at home!
I have been very fortunate to have worked with, and sold my images to nature lovers around the world, as well as corporations such as: Disney, Inc., Toyota, Coors, Sun Microsystems, IBM, Taco-Bell, Barnes and Noble, Random House, Hallmark, Vail Associates, The Environmental Defense Fund, The Nature Conservancy, The Sierra Club, CH2MHill, The High Country News, McLean’s Magazine, Sunset Magazine, The Denver Post, Rocky Mountain Magazine.