I was born and raised in the Southern states of America. My mother and father, both from very poor families, met during the Vietnam-American war. I grew up on Army bases with an older brother as my guardian and my hero. He was a natural artist and could sketch or paint anything he imagined. I was always envious of the artist in him. I lived in his shadow until I moved to California.
At the age of 21, I left the South to pursue an education and find my path. I spent the next decade taking darkroom courses and working full time to pay for my California lifestyle. During my time as a business consultant for Apple, I had a break down. I had gotten very ill and spent time in the hospital recovering after a life saving surgery. It was a turning point for many aspects in my life. I decided to follow my dreams of becoming an artist and getting a degree in something I was passionate about. I applied to the undergraduate program at the Academy, it was 2008.
It has been a long road to recovery, mentally. I had fallen into a depression that would last over five years. This emotional roller coaster is how I fueled my creative spiral. I used the photography as therapy and my emotions as concepts. During my undergrad I learned about photography technically and conceptually. I learned about color and light and experimental methods of capture and print. I was so distracted by the academics and technicalities of art, I was able to push through my dark times.
Much of my duality stems directly from my life experiences. During and after my depression, I came to second guess myself and quickly become indecisive. The smallest tasks became enormous obstacles. I became agoraphobic, not leaving the safety of my bed, my island. It was these soul wrenching moments that I used to express myself. I began to shoot myself out of need of a subject then eventually my self portraits turned into my need to express myself, my therapy.
I used myself to learn lighting and conceptual thinking. I also used myself to push my Photoshop skills and composite. I used my own experiences, my own body and mind to produce pieces of my mind. Only recently was I able to convey my vision exactly as I see it in my head. All of the pieces I learned over the years started to come together this year. My confidence as a photographer is finally catching up to me and I can see the growth in my work.
The evolution of my Duality project is visually apparent. The images revealed where I was both mentally and technically in my work. I was using Photoshop to composite and beautiful landscapes to help create a surreal world, to construct my realities. The project was my therapy and my distraction.
Now in the second stage of development, I have grown as a photographer and a narrator. In these images, I’ve grown to appreciate my second nature and even nurture it. Technically the images are more dynamic, less flat. There is more of a commercial feel to them with a better quality of light and contrast. I feel that I am not just a photographer, but a conceptual story teller.
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