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  • The Invasion of Normandy at 70, I at 24

    I have been very reflective lately – on history, on my life, and what I have accomplished in such a short amount of time as a photographer and a creative person. I have developed beyond just an aviation and space photographer into an editor, journalist, director, and filmmaker, sharing the common threads of history and inspiration.

    A still of actor Nick Holmes from The Last Patrol, the first film I directed while studying at Brooks Institute.

    Since my graduation from Brooks Institute in August 2013, I have become a journalist writing space articles for news outlet The Spaceflight Group and conducting interviews with fantastic individuals of aerospace companies. I photograph rocket launches and aircraft. Now I am embarking upon a “great and noble undertaking” of my own – directing a documentary that will be bringing a 92-year-old World War II veteran back to Normandy, France in August to honor the anniversary of the invasion. He has always wanted to return to Normandy where he was part of the invasion, but never had the opportunity to do so – until now.

    70 years is a lifetime ago and a whole other time I cannot fathom, yet the more I speak to and work with these World War II veterans, the closer I feel to this time in their lives. Working on this film, Normandy: A World Apart, during the past few months has been the most humbling and inspiring time in my life to date. It is amazing that by peering into our collective past, I am learning about what I can do for our collective future.

    What it comes down to is that our past is certainly part of our future, and it is not about how much time we have, but rather what we do with the time given to us. Harry Snyder, our veteran, has taught me that at the wonderful age of 92.

    You can never be too young or too old to accomplish great things and you should always be striving to do them, no matter what. Dreams and wishes are eternal; they are always waiting to come true, but you have to go after them.

    Harry Snyder, 92-year-old World War II veteran of the Invasion of Normandy and Battle of the Bulge.

    Thus, I am reminded of a quote by one of my most favorite authors, explorers, and photographers, Jack London:

    "You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club."

    I am honored to be aiding Harry in granting his wish to return to Normandy at 92 – and realize that at 24, helping him is granting one of my own wishes, too.

  • Entrepreneurship with Elon Musk and Richard Branson

    This morning, Google+ hosted a great Hangout with SpaceX's Elon Musk and Virgin Galactic's Sir Richard Branson on entrepreneurship, space, and innovation. If you missed the Hangout, you can watch it on YouTube here.

    I've highlighted some of the best advice that Elon and Richard gave during the Hangout below.

    Elon Musk:

    • Take as much feedback as you can from as many people as you can
    • Seek critical feedback
    • You want the future to be better than the past—or at least I do
    • Understand the mission
    • Make sure those joining the company believe in the mission
    • Throw as many hours at it as you can

    Richard Branson:

    • Great idea? Screw it, just do it.
    • Many of the best ideas come from personal frustration
    • What can I do to make a real difference in the world?
    • Motivate other people
    • Don’t let your business absorb your life 100%
    • Surround yourself with other people that can share the burden

    As an aerospace and aviation photographer I am also dabbling in the realm of entrepreneurship with my upcoming projects. Here is some additional advice I would give:

    • Dream enormously, but start minutely
    • Accomplish something much bigger than yourself
    • Meet everyone that you can
    • Inspire and be inspired
    • Never settle
    • Come full circle and give back to the world

    Thank you to Elon Musk and Richard Branson for their time and to Yonca Brunini for hosting the Hangout. Hope the rest of the day is just as inspirational!

  • Inspiration: Our Veterans

    Inspiration is certainly one of those words that is used often enough and with good reason. For a creative person such as myself, it is one of my core motivators. I hope to post many installments about my inspiration, as much of it is quite relevant to my aerospace and aviation work.

    Of course, at the top of the list of inspiration for me is our veterans.

    A statue in Washington, D.C. that is part of the Vietnam War Memorial.

    Reflections in the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C.

    I make sure to pay tribute to the enduring spirit of our veterans whenever and wherever I go. Their inspiring stories are at times the fuel that keeps me going towards my own dreams.

    Statues that are part of the Korean War Memorial in Washinton, D.C.

    Etchings in the wall of the Korean War Memorial in Washington, D.C.

    One of the most rewarding parts of my work is being able to meet and honor our veterans in person. I volunteer my time and photography as much as I can. I have worked closely with the San Diego Air and Space Museum and the Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Museum donating my photography for various events. I have been able to meet some amazing people and hear their equally amazing feats as a result.

    Veterans at the 2013 Memorial Day ceremony at the Santa Barbara Cemetery.

    Astronaut Gene Cernan and I at the Apollo 17 40th Anniversary celebration at the San Diego Air and Space Museum.

    Astronaut Charlie Duke and I at the Apollo 17 40th Anniversary celebration at the San Diego Air and Space Museum.

    At many of the events I volunteer for, I end up rubbing shoulders with a lot of astronauts that are also veterans as well. It is always an honor to be around such great people. All in all, I hope that in time my photographs of these legends and unsung heroes will preserve their legacy and also inspire future generations.