I never had any intention of being a cinematographer. I tried a lot of things that didn’t work out. When I was 16 years old, I was riding in professional rodeos, which was kind of odd since I was born in Hollywood, California. By the time I was in my early 20’s, I was driving race cars.
I was always looking for a thrill. In between these two failed ventures, I worked in film labs and later tried my hand as an animation cameraman.

Then a friend of mine told me about a man named Nelson Tyler, who had built a camera mount for helicopter cinematography. It sounded exciting and I found out that my father, an animation cameraman, had worked with Nelson’s father. So, I arranged a meeting with Nelson and he let me hang around and learn how to use the equipment. I became his assistant and within six months was shooting small jobs on my own. I loved filming from a helicopter; it seemed to satisfy my need for adventure. Within a couple of years, I was considered one of the top aerial cameramen (so I’m told). I flew with a pilot / 2nd unit director by the name of Jim Gavin and we worked on many projects, everything from filming while riding a bucking horse and hand holding the camera, to standing on the “skid-gear” filming actors inside the helicopter. I got the reputation that I would do ANYTHING that needed filming.

The one thing missing for a career as a director of photography was my lack of knowledge for lighting. I didn’t come up through the ranks where most people learn their craft – no film school, just the school of hard knocks. One day, a man I worked for asked if I could do a small job with a bunch of screaming kids holding different colored balloons. The footage was to show children enjoying themselves after watching cartoons on television. I told him I had no experience in lighting a set, and he suggested I get a lighting gaffer to help me. I did, and the job was fun. It became the start of a whole new addition to my career. Shortly after that experience, while wondering how I would ever learn lighting, I was watching television and an ad came on about a book called “100 of the World’s Most Beautiful Paintings.” I sent away for the book and was intrigued by those masters – Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Da Vinci… I thought to myself: “With lights, I could get the same look as those famous painters,” and so began my creative talents. To this day I’m so grateful for that $13.00 book as it gave me the desire to do what I do. I felt like a success when I did a film called “Panache” for television and the director told me it looked like a Rembrandt painting.

And now I’m looking forward to the next new challenge!