What am I going to do when I grow up?
The childhood memory books that my mom kept up with and I ultimatley took over as I grew older tell me that I wanted to be a Doctor when I was 5, a Firefighter when I was 6 and a Fighter Jet Pilot when I was 7,8,and 9.
When I was 7 I moved to Goldsboro, NC, a town full of figher jets that were stationed at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, so it is no surprise that I used to daydream about one day distracting the local elementary school students with unexpected sonic booms.
I continued my love affair with the fantasy of becoming a Top Gun all the way through high school and into the Wayne Community College Pre-Engineering program until an advanced Calculus Course kicked my ass, two semesters in a row.
It was at that point that I realized that I needed to find a new career field. It found me. And unbeknownst to me it had actually been following me around since I was 7.
My favorite passion in life from an early age was taking pictures. My 4th grade class project was a slide show. I borrowed the school's 35mm SLR and ran around the school snapping endless rolls of film that I had to beg my mom to get developed. I presented my teacher with a slide show yearbook of sorts. It even had a taped narration.
When I was about 11 my Great Uncle came to town with a fancy new machine that captured moving pictures and recorded them on a videotape. WOW! Yes that's me in the tube socks. My first experience with a video camera.
For Christmas of 85 my dad bought the family our first video camera. A full size Magnovox VHS Camcorder. The rule from Dad: "Hands Off! It's not for kids." That directive of course meant that I had to figure out every damned feature that thing had and start making movies. Now we won't go into the exact content of some of those tapes right now, but lets just say they are like a Mastercard commercial, Priceless.
I practiced my skill while my parents were at work or out with friends in the evening and over time I was allowed to used the camcorder with Dad's consent. I used the camcorder for projects in High School and College. There was something intuitive about being able to share my information on a given subject not only with the written word but with visual and audio support.
Another passion of mine growing up was listening to the Police and Fire Departments on a Radio Scanner. My parents had a scanner in the house and I grew up listening to the dispatchers and even made friends with several of them.
My passions of listening to the scanner and videotaping everything within sight finally joined together in late 1992. I was at a local downtown festival and saw a cameraman from a local TV station who was covering the event. I struck up a conversation with him and he opened my eyes to the possiblity of becoming a stringer. That is, taking my Camcorder to wrecks and fires and other possibly newsworthy events and then selling the footage to the local TV stations. That was his story and he had been hired, at least part time at that point, to shoot on the weekends.
I started 'stringing' for that station at various fires and wrecks but a true turning point came in September of 1993. My Mom found an ad in the paper wanting a News Videographer for a local cable show. I applied using my stringer footage from the previous six months and got the job. I was hired as the second full time photographer along side a familiar face; the part time cameraman who had opened my eyes to what I was going to be when I grew up.