Rediscovering Joy - Why Prevention Works

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I am not a photographer by education or formal training. I often describe myself as an “accidental photographer” since most of what I know is self-taught - born out of a pure love of the outdoors and the beauty of creation.

My journey into photography began near the end of my career as a federal drug prosecutor where I supervised the Organized Crime/Drug Enforcement Task Force – a group of agents, analysts and prosecutors who investigated and prosecuted high-level drug trafficking organizations. During that time, I was an eyewitness to some of the darkest aspects of society. Although my legal career was exciting and challenging, the investigation of these cases put me in direct contact with all forms of greed, addiction, violence, abuse and neglect of children, and the loss of dignity, health, freedom, and even life itself. Without recognizing it, all of those things weighed on my heart, mind and soul in ways that I couldn’t imagine at the time.

It took a mid-life crisis to bring me into the world of serious photography when I realized that decades of exposure to the darkest side of humanity had impacted my ability to recognize many of life’s simple pleasures.

Up to that point in my life, my wife and I had experienced blessings that are found in a blur of family activities – ballgames, school, church, Scouts, camping, hiking, birthdays, holidays, and occasional vacations. But as our children left home to attend college and raise families of their own, I found myself working longer hours and enjoying life less.

After our last child left for college, I reached a turning point with the realization that I needed a hobby, something that would help me focus my attention on more positive thoughts and experiences. My choice at the time was an inexpensive film camera. Although I initially lacked the skills necessary to successfully capture a beautiful image, the simple act of looking through the lens of a camera allowed me to re-discover everything that is wonderful in life – a world full of amazing people, beautiful landscapes, fascinating creatures, and boundless opportunities and adventures. Through the lens of a camera, I rediscovered a sense of joy that I recognized as a gift from childhood when the world was full of wonder and awe.

Now, many years later, I am blessed with opportunities to speak and train at local, state, regional and national conferences on a variety of subjects relating to the law, law enforcement, drug education, building strong communities, protecting and nurturing children, and photography.

Because of my law enforcement background, many of my presentations require me to describe the grim realities of bad choices that negatively impact children, families and communities, but these opportunities also allow me to provide positive messages and solutions that can overcome feelings of hopelessness, pain, surrender, and despair.

This is especially important in working directly with youth (ranging from those who are severely “at risk” to kids who seem blessed with every opportunity in life). At both ends of this spectrum I find that young people are eager to be “seen” AND heard by adults, and when given the right information and encouragement, they become eager to serve AND to lead. Increasingly, my youth workshops include teaching about photography and the great outdoors. My best days involve a photography/nature workshop followed by an outdoor excursion with a busload of kids.

The combination of my professional background and love of photography allows me to share real life experiences that provide a stark contrast between choices that bring misery and pain with choices that can lead to a fulfilling and joyful life.

By sharing these images, my purpose is to encourage others to make good choices and live happy and healthy lives. By tapping into the sense of wonder we all experienced as little children, we can all rediscover a world that is infinitely more satisfying than anything offered by a popular culture that often leads people in the wrong direction.

One of my favorite photographers, Galen Rowell once said: “You only get one sunrise and one sunset a day, and you only get so many days on the planet. A good photographer does the math and doesn't waste either.”

I hope that you enjoy each sunrise and sunset as you journey through a wonderful life.


April 18, 2024
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