5:00 AM on a Monday, 2007 (my day off).
The phone rings, waking me up. It’s my Photo Editor telling me I need to report to work immediately. “The winds are getting out of control.” My adrenalin started pumping; I got really excited. One hour later, I’m suited up in my fire gear covering one of the largest wildfires in San Diego history.
The first place I find myself is a housing track in San Marcos, California. The sky was orange-red with burnt debris flying everywhere. The entire housing track was empty except for a few residents scuttling around their homes, checking for last-minute items to stuff into their cars. It reminded me of a scene out of a George A. Romero zombie movie. The police kept touring the track announcing that there was a mandatory evacuation, all residents needed to leave their homes. The reason: a massive wildfire was rapidly approaching. I pull over near this guy frantically loading his family and anything else he could fit in their car. He was in complete disbelief of his predicament. He asked me if I thought his house would burn down. I didn’t know what to say; however, I felt I should be positive. I told him not to worry, his house would likely survive. I never went back to see if my prediction was correct.
Photojournalism is ripe with opportunities to meet so many people, from different backgrounds, each with their own story to tell. These experiences paved the way to my current approach to photography.
Since those days back in 2007, my style has changed a bit. Now my imagery is manipulated with everything deliberately placed in the scene. However, the photojournalism never really left me. Having a strong narrative is the foundation to all of my projects.