If you would’ve told me in September of 2002, having just graduated college with my graphic design degree at the ripe old age of 29 (I’m a late bloomer), that I was about to start a job that was going to provide steady employment for the next twelve and a half years, I would’ve done cartwheels (assuming I actually believed you). The truth of the matter is, I assumed that in the so-called “modern” economy, people are lucky to have jobs last longer than a year or two…and I know enough stories from friends to understand how not-so-far-from-reality that can be for a lot of people, including many of my fellow classmates who I walked across the stage with that day back in May of ’02.
But neither did I expect what working at the Star would do for me, in some surprising and unanticipated ways. While there are a lot of people who’ve played their part in my rise as a photographer, perhaps the greatest unsung factor was the enormous flexibility that my various supervisors at the Star through the years allowed me in cultivating my passion, letting me take time off early or take a day off to go shoot an event or project while never making a fuss, actually allowing me to shoot events on top of my regular duties which was unprecedented, and even letting me have a week off once in the middle of a major deadline so I could fly to the Bahamas for a fantastic photo opportunity. I can name a lot of close and good friends whose encouragement and enthusiasm have been vital in propelling me in my career, but without the Star granting me the wide latitude it did in enabling those pursuits, it would have been much more challenging and difficult to accomplish many of those things.
And while it got to the point where it was clear that now was the right time for me to depart the Star, I can absolutely say that I loved my job and appreciated what I had, and I knew exactly how fortunate I was. I had no idea what buying that little Olympus C-4000 digital camera just for fun back in 2003 would ultimately lead to, but what it became was a force that grew bigger and bigger—sometimes steadily, often by leaps and bounds, but always at my own pace—eventually matching and ultimately surpassing what I had at the Star. And it was in a huge part because of the Star that was able to happen.
So as I sign off from the Star for the last time, I want to give a special shout out to: Jane Howard for hiring me at the Star; Michelle Jolles for bringing me over to the Grandcom division at the end of ’05; JT Kent for the original job reference; Chris-Anne Gebauer; Randy Velasquez; Sara Woolfolk; Tod Machin; Chad Parkhurst; Jeremy Bingham; Chris Haghirian; Vanessa Rose Cumberford; MicKayla Mages; LeeAnn Mutchler; Lauren Marty Golden;Jackie Wittlinger; Robbie Schraeder; Stacy Gresham; Zim Loy; Gwendolyn Hefner; Ashley Dowgwillo; Nikki Taylor Storms; Mimsy Winston; Briana Craemer; Kristin Broll Griffin; Jeri Kadel; Katie Holbrook Delzer…and too many other people from the Star that I hope are not offended that I left out. It was a great ride.