In 2013, a dream of assembling a small group of elite Nikon shooters began to take shape. The idea was spearheaded by Mike Corrado with the tremendous backing of the incredibly talented Nikon Professional Services staff, of Nikon USA chief Toru Iwaoka and everyone at the mothership in Melville, NY. With that, the Nikon Ambassador program was born.
I still have trouble convincing myself that this isn’t all some sort of silly dream. I was fortunate enough to get a call and an invitation to join the program at its inception. Among those original 16 photographers were icons who I looked up to since I was a kid when I would often find myself at my grandparents house spending hours looking through Sports Illustrated, TIME and National Geographic. In doing so at that early age I became familiar with the power of storytelling through photography thanks to the work of Joe McNally, Bill Frakes and Dave Black. As I grew older, I was also moved by the work of Ami Vitale and Corey Rich. As I began to pursue portrait photography, I found myself floored by the work of Sandro. In the program’s second year, the roster grew to include three more stellar shooters.
Earlier this year, Mike Corrado began to put things in motion to bring all (or as many as possible) of the Ambassadors together for a summit in New York. It truly was a conclave of incredible talent and a vast undertaking for Nikon to pull off in order to bring us together. We came from all over the country and the world to New York for true photo fellowship. I couldn’t believe I was in the same room with everyone and hear stories be told by Sandro, Joe McNally, Bill Frakes, Dave Black, Ami Vitale, Ron Magill, Corey Rich, Lucas Gilman, Robin Layton, Blair Bunting, Dixie Dixon, Cliff Mautner, Tamara Lackey, Jerry Ghionis, Moose Peterson and Bambi Cantrell. While very disappointed that James Balog and Vincent Versace couldn’t join us this time around, I sure hope that the full roster will be able to assemble for the next summit…it cant get here soon enough!
Before this inaugural summit of Ambassadors, many of us had never met face to face. We come from different photographic disciplines and specialties and are spread across the country. However, we are all familiar with each others names and work. The mutual respect and admiration was already established. However, everything truly began to go from extraordinary to truly special as new friendships began to be formed with one another almost immediately. Stories were shared, photos were shown, ideas were exchanged, thoughts were challenged, camaraderie was fostered and bread was broken. To say a great time was had by all was an understatement.
One evening, we each had five minutes (give or take 20) to show some of our work and talk about who we are to a crowd of several hundred Nikon employees. The last time I was that nervous, felt that humble and unworthy was when I was a student at the Eddie Adams Workshop. As intimidating as EAW was, this summit was equally as daunting for me. It was also wildly inspiring, just as EAW was for me as a student in 2006.
When my time came to take the stage and present, fortunately, just as when my wife gave birth to our daughter, I didn’t pass out or throw up like I was certain that I would!
We are beyond blessed to get to do what we each do for a living. To share what we know and our vision with people all around the world is incredible. However, I know I speak on behalf of all my fellow ambassadors in saying that we are able to do all that we do thanks in large part to all the tremendous support we receive from NPS led by the fearless Mark Suban. Along with Mark and the aforementioned Mike Corrado we are supported by Melissa DiBartolo, Scott Diussa, Mark Kettenhofen, Andy Dunaway, JC Carey, Chad McNeeley, Brien Aho, Ron Taniwaki, Sara Wood, Carissa Mitchell, Angie Salazar, Kris Bosworth, Lindsay Silverman, Stephen Heiner and so many more at NPS and Nikon. I cant thank everyone enough for all that you do to not only support me and my fellow Ambassadors but everyone who picks up a Nikon camera and looks to share their vision and tell their story!
I tried to sleep on my flight home yesterday from LaGuardia to Chicago but I couldn’t. I tried to get a good nights sleep in my own bed last night but I couldn’t. I was awake at 4 a.m. and restless as I was still trying to process all that transpired in New York. Today I am setting goals bigger than I already had previously and eager for opportunities to collaborate with fellow Ambassadors not only on work projects but also in opportunities to make impacts on anyone who picks up a camera to tell their story and record their history.
If you are not familiar with the Nikon Ambassador program, please do yourself a favor and go check it out!!!!
To my fellow Ambassadors, thanks for inspiring myself and millions upon millions of others. Keep kicking ass, sharing your vision, telling stories that need to be told, capturing moments for those who will cherish them forever. Travel safe and I hope we all cross paths often until the next summit!