I caught the photography bug in a serious way at the age of 14. My dad was an editor for the largest evening newspaper in the United States during the heyday of print media. He loved photography and as such we had a darkroom in our house (both black & White and Color film). My dad was thrilled with my level of interest and let me have access to all of the gear. My interests were sports and music. Because I enjoyed writing as well – luck would have it – that I found myself being published (with pay) in the newspaper as a stringer on a frequent basis. Under the pen name Jay Hilton articles and or photos soon began to appear in TV Magazine, Sunday Magazine and newspapers on subjects ranging from the NBA playoffs to concert tours for groups such as the The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull, Peter Frampton, Aerosmith, The Doobie Brothers, Bob Seger, Fleetwood Mac and Kiss. To my surprise some groups and record labels contacted me for work. A manager of a small chain of record stores in Michigan convinced me and his upper management to sell my work on high quality glossy stock in sizes up to 16″ x 20″ instead of inexpensive posters.
The events associated with life back-stage and at post concert parties was interesting for a short period of time. However, the lifestyle was fairly brutal and couple of events led me to belief there was not a future for me as a professional photographer. The first being I lost a good deal of equipment and almost my life as a sold out crowd rushed the stage at the onset of the concert for ZZ Top. As a favor, I had brought along my roommate David Lee (from Greenville Mississippi) to the event. ZZ Top was one of his favorite groups. Both of us were being crushed to death by the crowd – literally not 60 seconds into their concert. Luckily the stage crew spotted me and pulled David and myself to safety. Next was the constant harassment by groupies using me to try to get to the stars. A writer for the State News (the student daily newspaper at Michigan State with circulation of 50,000+ at the time) spent an entire semester trying to convince me it would be a great to do a story about my work and with example photos. Ultimately I gave in and an entire back page of a Friday issue was devoted to an interview with me, accompanied with a large photo of yours truly sitting in front of a full wall collage of my shots. The article was nicely written and a good stroke for the ego. Afterward a whole bunch of calls and unannounced visits ensued and made my life pretty miserable. I was pretty burned and decided to stop.
A few years ago, I decided to get back into taking photographs as an avocation. It has has been extremely rewarding.