Last year I had the chance to fly in for the weekend to attend the WPPI Print Competition.  What I learned in a few short days was invaluable to the growth of my work as an artist.  Seeing and hearing experienced and accomplished photographers from all over the world give constructive criticism to piece after piece made realize just how important the finer details in every photo we take truly is.  Let’s not forget; just how difficult printing truly is.  It’s a true art in itself.  I took that with me, and set a goal to have at least three photos hanging at the 2014 WPPI Print Competition.

A year later, we arrive a little early to see a few of my photos in the “details” category judged randomly.  It’s a gut punch; prettying fing gruesome..but also if you listen and watch with an open mind its easy to realize just how valuable constructive thoughts are.  Then it happened..Melissa and I ventured down the next morning to the area where the Best of the Best were hanging.  Any score over an 80 has the privelage to be hung amongst the rest.  Within a minute, we find one..then another..then another.  Each one hit me the same way; but I have to say to find the 3rd really completed the day for me.  Goal complete.  Lessons learned.  See below for the three that had the privelage to hang with an amazing group of artists.

fine art groom portraits
wppi print competition
normandy france cemetery

I’ve wanted to do this post for a very long time.  Fear drove my complacency; as it does in many of our lives when we are standing in front of a huge project.  2013 was a year of awakening for me.  My life changed with too many moments to count.  I visited the shores of Normandy which gave me an undying perspective of just how thankful I should be; it also gave me a real life vision of history.  Those beaches I’d read about in pages of books came to life.  The art of my work also took a change at the beginning of the year and on.  2012 was the year of finding my place among this amazing community.  Wedding after wedding, late nights, a lost relationship, and long flights home.  2013 was different.  I was focused.  Every 3 months I set a new goal.  From finding my own way to tell the story of a beautiful bride, making a groom stoic, focusing on the details details details; I slowly started began to feel comfortable in my own skin.  I stopped looking at other peoples work.  If I did, it was the likes of Avedon or Winters.  I focused on my work; I also had an amazing woman supporting me who also happens to be a photographer.

I asked a potential groom today to describe what drew them to my work.  His response hit me hard and reminded me what a shit ton of hard work, sacrifice, and attention to detail will give you..RESULTS.  He said, “It was a wedding on a small ranch.  You followed them throughout the day.  I felt like I was present.  Like I was apart of their family.  As I was reading a novel.  You told a STORY.”

This is why I do this.  To tell stories.  I am not blessed with the ability to paint, draw, nor dance (according to my girlfriend + erick).  God has blessed with me the ability to tell a story through my eyes; and it be enjoyed by several people.  I’m not sure what else I could really ask for.  I truly am the luckiest man alive.

My idea for this post was to do just that.  Tell a story; through my eyes.  This is my 2013.  This is my growth.  These are my goals right here in color & black and white.  These are my wonderful clients who trusted me to tell their story.  Who welcomed me into their private circle of loving family and friends & treated me like their own on a day like no other.  To you all; I am humbled.  Thank you for all the wonderful people who helped me throughout the year:  Cameron, Melissa, Stephen; just to name a few.  This was my 2013.

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  • JoshuabTyi

    This is world class, Joseph. You should be proud, congratulations.

  • liking what I see brother. great job!

  • Jonathan Ivy

    Impressive. I can’t wait to see 2014.

  • Top shelf work brother. Bravo.

  • Joseph =

    You blow me away with how stunning your pictures are. Each one is a masterpiece or artwork.

Do you believe in fate?  The definition states, “the development of events beyond a person’s control, regarded as determined by a supernatural power.”  Okay, you got that.  Now, I have a story for you.

This past Thursday I experienced something very incredible for the first time.  I had my first show.  Meaning, I showed my work at a space and invited people to come view and purchase my work.

A little twist to it though.  This all happened because of one person; my friend Erick Sandlin.  Erick is a wonderful artist.  I’m not sure I’d call his work “experimental” any longer; he definitely knows what the hell is he doing.  Erick uses spray paint cans as his tools and canvas as his..well canvas.  Erick and I first met 3 years ago on Independence Day at a classic American backyard Barbque.  I was still in the infant stages of my work I think; only starting to shoot weddings a year before.  Literally, a YEAR before.  I shot my first beautiful wedding on Independence Day in Austin, Texas the previous year.  Coincidence?

We instantly connected due to our background.  We grew up in small, east Texas towns.  Moved on through life and landing jobs and careers as non-artists.  Erick, a promiment lawyer and me as an IT Manager here in Houston.  We talked about his work, how it started, where he wanted it to head and how we both had this amazing “outlet”.  Immediately we hatched a plan to colloborate on our work.  I was pumped.  Then once the time came to begin the project, I avoided it like a Nickelback song.  That’s what I’m best at… instead of facing the fears of being vulnerable… I avoided it.  It’s much easier, you see.

Over the last three years Erick and I have grown to be best friends.  His career as a lawyer has continued, and his artistry is killing here in Houston.  I don’t think there is a time I haven’t talked to him where he isn’t doing 3-4 commissions for someone.  Needless to say, I’ve been beyond proud.  Throughout this friendship, we have continued to bring up the thought of us collaborating.  I went from being “scared” to not ready.  I needed a project I felt deserved to be shown.  I have high respect for all of my friends, and for Erick and to invite them to something that I’m not proud of seems… phony.  Then it happened.  While walking around San Francisco last August inspiration came over me.  Maybe it was the city, or the wonderful architecture every block I came to.  I commenced on a road trip down Highway 1 venturing through Carmel, and Big Sur over the next few days; and the “movement project” was theoritically born. It continued various times while traveling.  Always, while traveling.  Road trip back from WPPI.  A few drives to Kirbyville.  Apparently I’m at my calmest while driving.

I’ll wrap this up.  A little over a month ago, Erick and I again discussed this project.  Combining my work with his work.  Bringing my vision and creating it on canvas, and trusting him to bring his own vision to it.  Then I did it.  I committed.  My friends, and family can comment..if I do actually commit to something, I will give it 100%.  I’ll go sleepless.  I’ll work as hard as I fing have to be the best.  I will not sell myself short.  I will not have regrets.  Those 120 degree summers in Mississippi come to mind with my Grandfather.  Countless times I heard, “either be lazy and leave, or work your ass off.”

I dropped off the first set of canvases to Erick, and then awoke to five texts the next morning with his first creations.  Blown away.  Speechless.  All I texted him back was, “woah”.  We completed our collaborative work, and with the help of Melissa Fitz, and the wonderful ladies at Heights Engraving shop we had our first collaborative show together.  IT COULD NOT HAVE BEEN BETTER.  The support of people and friends was mind blowing.  We killed it together.  Our next one is already in the works.  It’ll be grander, and this time I won’t wait three years.

Follow your gut people.  I met Erick for a reason.  To be friends for life, to create art together, and for him to beat my ass at tennis a lot.   I have to repeat this.  We met a year to the day after shooting my first wedding.  Do you believe in fate?

Below are some of my favorites from the project; and some that I showed.

fine art landscape photography
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big sur landscape photography
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highway 1 photography
abstract photography
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big sur abstract photography