Picture, World: A Statement

After Steichen. Naperville, IL, 2023. 6”x9” inkjet print.

About this publication

The title is an acknowledgement of critic John Berger’s notion that we make meaning of our world through images before language.

I’m trying to work out the role of photography in a dizzyingly changing world. I am curious about where the medium succeeds and fails, and what its strengths and shortcomings are. I’m experimenting with how I can continue to practice the medium myself.

In recent years I’ve been working on essays in various formats. Some are about photography in the world of art and media, and some pair my own photographs with creative writing. This is well worn territory for some photographers/writers, but new for me.1 I am deeply interested in ideas about the medium, and I keep tabs on some strains of critical theory and art and cultural criticism, but ultimately what I am doing here is personal and I’ll use space for me to practice.

The beginnings of this are a result of the Knight-Wallace Fellowship that I was awarded in 2023 at the University of Michigan, where my primary goal was to get used to spending more time writing.

About this author

For about 20 years I've been a photographer. Now, I think the best way to say it is that I’m not always a photographer, but that documentary photography is at the core of what I do.

Most importantly I consider myself a husband and a father. Trying to come to grips with how to best practice photography is intertwined with coming to grips in how to best practice the even more important roles in my life.

I've gotten to this point mostly making pictures for magazines, news outlets and a few commercial clients like The New York Times, The Financial Times and Nike, as well as lots of smaller clients. I've also had my own projects published in outlets like Time, National Geographic, Fast Company, Phaidon and Juxtapoz. In addition to this I've shown work at a few smaller galleries and museums and been involved in some collaborative initiatives; a publishing imprint called Sleeper.Studio and a local gallery/art project called Basement Art Space.

Inspired by paintings of my father, the quilts of my mother and the work of skateboard photographers, I largely taught myself at first using internet forums.2 At the same time I began retouching pictures for the university communications office at Marquette University and then transferred to the University of Illinois to study advertising. There, I learned I would rather work in journalism than in advertising, and I delved into the student newspaper and worked as a photographer and photo editor. While a kind professor let me into some undergraduate art classes in photography at Illinois, it was not my primary course of study.

Afterward graduating I worked for some local newspapers in the Chicago area, then did a graduate degree in photojournalism at Ohio University. This was the first time I got formalized and institutional training in photography. At times, I felt a bit limited by photojournalism and what I thought were the failures of the medium as a communication tool. On my own time, even as a working freelancer, I delved deeper into art. Eventually I went to school again - this time studying interdisciplinary studio art as a graduate student at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. This varied exposure in two different facets of the world of photography has deeply informed my views.3

I am familiar with critical theorists who hold photography and photographers to account and with photojournalists and artists who practice in spite of the flaws of the medium, in the hope for positive change. I appreciate all of it.


As I write this, Robert Adams, Teju Cole, Aisha-Sabbatini-Sloan and Luigi Ghirri currently loom large in my consciousness, all for different reasons.


RIP Skateboardphotography.com


Yes, I went to graduate school twice to work with photography in two different ways and get two distinct degrees, and yes, I know how that sounds. Amazingly, the experiences were completely different.

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Essays of and about photography. More or less.


I'm a photographer and writer in Ann Arbor, Michigan and a 2023/2024 Knight Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan.