I am a ship pilot in Houston. I´ve always been interested in photography but I put my film cameras aside when my children were young. Several years ago there was a request for old photos of the ship channel and the pilot´s association was unable to help. I resolved to begin carrying a camera around at work so that in the future people could look back and see what the ship channel was like at the beginning of the 21st century. This evolved into requests for photos to show at school presentations, at port meetings and requests to donate photos for some of the fund raising benefits for the maritime industry here. After the first event and some positive feedback I decided to get some good equipment.
Beyond that, if I have to put a label on my photography, I would call it a lyrical documentary of the Houston Ship Channel. That classification will surprise people who are accustomed to thinking of the ship channel as a nuisance and industry as ugly, but I think it fits. The ship channel is a huge part of Houston and is what has allowed the city to prosper. Houston is the largest port in the United States yet most Houstonians are only vaguely aware that we have one and are surprised to hear how big it really is. Unlike San Francisco whose maritime nature is part of the landscape or Venice where the port is interwoven into the city; in Houston the harbor is hidden away, invisible except from a few places. The port is just not a part of our culture. It seldom appears in our newspaper nor, that I know of, in our local art or literature. I hope, in a small way, to help change that.
I am somewhat limited by the circumstances under which I can take photos. I
can´t ever abandon my role as pilot and just leave the ship to its own devices (unless I´m with another pilot), so photography has to be secondary and quick. No tripod, since the platform I´m working on is vibrating and moving and my subjects are moving as well. No large format gear since I have to carry everything up and down a rope ladder at the beginning and end of each day. The photos on the HCP site were taken with Nikon DSLRs and a limited number of lenses.
A wider selection of my photos can be found at www.Flickr.com/OneEighteen