I stood there looking at myself in the mirror. The scene unfolding was reminiscent of a Hunter S. Thompson novel. Gritty face. Bloodshot eyes. A general foggy demeanor spiraling around my hungover head. The girl that was to become my wife was lying naked in the bed behind me. It was my first commercial photo shoot, there is absolutely no reason that I should be feeling this way. I grabbed for the Advil, Alka-seltzer, and water, need water. My tongue felt like I was a cat preparing to cough up a hairball. It is safe to say there were sweaters covering my teeth. I heard the music of last night’s party still ringing in my ears. I vaguely remember some nakedness to the point of mild porn in the gondola last night with hand-held flash going off as random as a dance strobe in a techno bar, but the fog was doing its best to hide any and all of those embarrassments. Did I really take it this far? I mean, I got paid to do this to myself. This was only a wedding for god’s sake. Was this going to be the rest of my life and career?
Almost two decades later, I was in the same place. A mirror, in a bathroom, with sweaters on my teeth. In Vancouver this time, not Vail. Yes, I was shooting an assignment. This time about the Olympics and ski dirtbags. It’s good to see that many things have changed and many things have not. I am married with two kids now. My wife told me to go and have fun. This wasn’t feeling much like fun. The dirtbags woke me up off of my couch at about 2am as the whole party went nuclear. Much like the light porn I still vaguely remember from the wedding in Vail so long ago, it began with a concept, a contract, and unlimited handshaking, touring, and of course skiing. I only remember my friends prying my eyes open and asking if I was awake. The smell of spilled red wine, tequila, and beer permeated the condo. We were supposed to ski today and the snow was falling out of the sky like never before on this journey. Very similar to the brain cells that were littering the floor before me.
My life consists of writing, photographing, and family. Sometimes there is a little sleep thrown in there, but most times not. I pushed for this career, I dreamt of it, I wished for it, and there are many times that the dream of frolicking through the wild flowers without a care in the world turns into the Freddy Kruger of nightmares. Like I have always said and probably always will, lob the grenade into the room first, then head in, resurrect the broken and busted survivors to do it again on another day. Would I change my life? Sometimes there are parts that I would. Spending more time with my family so they don’t hate me so much, and trying to be a better man, I seem to be caught in the phase of always trying. I am standing on the precipice of 15 years as a professional photographer and writer and I am only truly scratching the surface of that lifestyle and occupation.
Many ask me how I do it? They want the remedy to fix their dreams, hopes, and career paths. My advice is always-Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you cannot do something. Envision it and go after full-tilt, like you were running from that brown bear and your life depended on it. The results will be shocking, almost to the point of perfection, if you stay away from the psychotic episodes. I have brought my entire personal life to my career and vice versa. I live the dream and the nightmare, every day. It is safe to say that tomorrow I will drop another monster backcountry line full of cold smoke powder and on Sunday will be shooting another hotel for Hilton. It’s all about living in balance with the world, nature, family, and concepts. Some days it’s as perfect as three feet of consolidated, bonded, trackless powder and other times that it is as rotten as a freezing trend after ten inches of rain. It is safe to say that tomorrow, I will fix the hand grenades of today and the cycle will continue. Inevitably.