About me...OKC Artist, photographer, educator
From my earliest memory art has been at the forefront of my thoughts. I can remember begging my parents to take piano lessons at a very early age. I also remember climbing up to the tallest kitchen cabinet to get “the camera”. My mom always had “the camera” to capture special moments when we were little. This first camera I don’t remember a lot about, I do remember it was probably some form of camera from the 80’s. PS we have so many photos of my face, fingers, perspective from before first grade I would guess. My bedroom walls were my own art board. You can trace my growth by scribbles by the base boards to drawings, signatures, and scenes drawn by friends as I got older.
Jump forward to high school AJ and I can assure you I wasn’t the cool kid in my class, but more like the kid that did everything, or at least tried. I was involved in so many activities, but kept band at the forefront of what I wanted to succeed in. Beyond band I participated in speech and debate, one act plays, mock trial, academic team, competitive weight lifting, football for a short time, student council and Spanish club. I was taking private lessons from the horn teacher at SWOSU at the time.
I graduated high school in 2002 and started my music education journey at SWOSU. Through this degree I wavered between education and performance as lots of musicians on this path do. I was guided and steered by some really wonderful people and I’m glad I heeded their advice. I’m forever grateful. Also in 2004 I decided to join the Army National Guard Band here in Oklahoma to help pay for some of school. Enter my first DSLR. I bought a used Canon Digital Rebel off of a friend who was also in the band. I traveled. I took pictures. I saw pretty flowers. I took Pictures. I generally stayed away from photographing people at this point.
Images from getting started. Images from 2005-2015.
After my student teaching experience in Southern Oklahoma with my former high school band director I decided that it was now or never and I needed to get a masters in horn performance. I got accepted to BGSU and was given an assistantship. Up to this point I had really only photographed things for myself. Travel photography, flowers, plants, and sometimes my family. I started studying the horn more intensively and began doing musicians headshots for the people in the school of music at BGSU for $50.
From there I started taking portraits of people and growing slowly but surely. I eventually graduated from BGSU and then moved back to Oklahoma to pursue a career in Music Education. I loved teaching music, and seeing kids eyes light up the first time they were able to get a full fledged song out of their instrument. I taught in Sayre for two years and was asked to join the band staff at Clinton. I taught in Clinton for 6 years and got to teach with two of my college friends from SWOSU. I then moved to OKC and took a job in the Putnam City District at Kenneth Cooper Middle School. I taught there for 2 years and during this transition I began to heavily focus on photography.
Rachel Waters (@rachelwaters.co) allowed me to second shoot with her for about 3 years. I’m grateful for everything she taught me about wedding photography, consistency in editing, and allowing me to glean everything I could from her. I count her among some of my very best friends. AND she made me look like a rockstar in my wedding photos!
Images from the last 5 years. 2015-2019
What now? Well, I’ve decided to go full time photography and part time anything else. I thought it would be fun to jot down an overview of my journey until now. It’s pretty impressive how much we grow over the years. Reflection is important and so is growth. I taught my kids to be their own best teacher and now I’ve decided to take my own advice and take a leap into the unknown.
I was talking with a friend yesterday and I started to realize that subconsciously I had been preparing for this move for the last 3-4 years. When I started working with Rachel I knew I had landed on something special. I had found the yin to my yang and that this was how I could help people. I could help by capturing their stories. I could help by empowering them to own their body. I could get to the heart of the matter and get true expressions from people. Little did I know that I’d be growing with families. That my clients would be come my framily (Friends +Family).
Sometimes there’s a little voice that tells you to do something. It calls to you every day to take a leap, to jump into the unknown. Listen to it. Do it.