I grew up with a camera in my hands.
My father was a talented amateur photographer, with an eye for portraiture and the photo essay. When I was young, he traveled often. His work as an electronics engineer took him all over the world. On my 9th birthday, he returned home from a trip to Germany with a birthday gift that would become my favorite; a smooth brown leather camera bag, with big silver buckles and wide leather straps. Tucked inside the bag was a 35mm SLR camera body and two lenses; a 135mm telephoto and a fast 50mm lens. It was all the camera gear I would need for years.
I loved that rig. I still have it to this day.
Shooting consistently in full manual mode taught me to how to use light to create compelling photographs of the world and the people around me. By the time I entered high school, I had graduated from an SLR camera to a Hasselblad medium format body. Armed with one normal and one telephoto lens, I carried that rig with me for years, first as the photographer for a high school newspaper and yearbook, then on personal projects.
I was hooked on photography.
My dream was to be a professional photographer, traveling the world on assignments for the likes of National Geographic, The New York Times or Rolling Stone. I fully expected to earn my living with a camera. As it often does, love would change those plans. Married young, with a young, growing family to support, I turned to what would become a very lucrative career in building, project development and design.
My photography career would have to wait.
Eventually, and inevitably, I left the world of design and development to pursue a career in photography. I am glad I waited. My experience in design, my love of architecture and my understanding of a sense of place informs my photography in a way that I could never have anticipated.
For the past 15 years, I have been based in Washington, DC, working as a professional photographer.
I began my photography career working for architects and design firms, photographing projects for websites, portfolios and design competitions. Eventually, I turned to commercial photography, creating content for ad agencies representing clients such as American Express, AT&T, Airbnb, Anheiser Busch and others. Always fascinated by the craft of visual story telling, I worked a photojournalist for a time, covering human interest stories for an an award winning newspaper in a small southern town.
Each one of these experiences has been unique and formative.
I consider myself blessed to be able to do this work. I am honored to be a part of every moment that I capture with my camera. I have had the amazing good fortune to work for many wonderful clients, creating images for architects, artists, art directors, authors, editors, musicians, missionaries, media companies, mothers and mothers-to-be, non-profits, ad agencies and businesses, small and large.
To say I am living my dream would be an understatement.
Neil Colton Photographer