Moments come and go. But some moments hold more weight than others, shaping important parts of who we are. For me, taking pictures is a practice that allows me to better observe myself, others, and the world around me. Recently, I sat down to think about the moments that lead me to photography and how I became obsessed with chasing the light.
The year was 1997, and I had been living on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico for a couple of years. While working there, I met a professional photographer named Alejandro through a mutual friend. I had seen some of Alejandro’s work, including shots of Cancun he’d taken from a helicopter. His work was impressive and the area was ripe with scenery.
I lived in a condominium in Puerto Juarez, where Alejandro’s girlfriend also lived, a few floors above me. One day Alejandro, his girlfriend, her sister, and I were going to dinner and Alejandro asked me if I could grab his camera and gear from his car. I went to the parking lot, grabbed his camera, strapped his bag around my shoulder and headed back to the palapa near the pool area where everyone was waiting.
I came around the corner, camera in hand and the bag slung around me, and when Alejandro saw me he became suddenly excited and started commenting how much I looked like a photographer, remarking how naturally I moved with the gear. Working in personal security, I often carried equipment and bags, so I suppose it was all second nature, but there was something about a photographer seeing something different enough to make a comment that made the moment feel special.
I had always maintained an interest in photography, but my job was more involved with manipulating weapons, J-turns, and putting hands on people when they got aggressive or too close to my boss. I was young, working in a foreign country, and more busy protecting than creating. Still, Alejandro’s comment had meaning for me.
It reawakened a dream that I should pursue photography and start capturing some of the amazing sights I experienced.
When I think back on this time, it reminds me of Miyamoto Musashi, Japan’s famed ronin warrior, who occasionally set aside his sword to pick up a brush to dabble…