I grew up with a camera in my hands.
My father was a brilliant engineer and a talented amateur photographer, with an eye for portraiture and the photographic essay. When I was young, he traveled often. His work 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. 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 very young, with a growing family to support, I turned to what would become a very lucrative career in building, design and development.
My photography career would have to wait.
Eventually and inevitably, I left the world of building and design to pursue a career in photography. I am glad I waited. My experience in design, my love of architecture and the natural world, and my understanding of a sense of place, informs my photography today in a way that I could never have anticipated.
I began my photography career working for architects and design firms, photographing projects for websites, portfolios and design competitions. Eventually, I turned to commercial lifestyle 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 as a photojournalist for a time, covering human interest stories for an award winning regional newspaper in a small southern town, then later traveling to Haiti to tell the story of the children of The Village of Hope and The People of Haiti.
Recently, I discovered the transformative nature of landscape photography when I was asked to photograph a golf course near my home in Virginia. There is something at once magical and powerful that happens as you wait for the right moment, on the 18th fairway, as the sun slowly sets on a warm summer night.
I consider myself blessed to be able to do this work. To say I am living my dream would be an understatement.
I am always in search of new challenges and challenging new projects. I would love to discuss yours!
Neil Colton Photographer
Professional Member of The American Society of Media Photographers