Friday, November 10, 2006

A Surreal Life

Sometimes I feel like I'm living outside of my body and I can see what's happening but can't really believe it's real. This happened the first time when I went to Mike Colon's workshop and asked him very seriously for his autograph and instead he wrote his cell phone number and a week later Dane Sanders and I were hanging out with him in Santa Barbara and I remember him giving us some great advice and encouraging us to keep our expenses low as we grew our business.

Then just over a year after that I was with him and another huge inspiration of mine, David Beckstead, staying at a living legend's house - Gary Fong. I remember looking around thinking "how did I get here and what on earth am I doing here!" (I'm sure Missy is rolling her eyes right now - she gets bothered when photographers say stuff like this)

And this week has been another one of those experiences because Gary Fong invited me out to dinner in NY last week to celebrate the huge success of the Lightsphere at the photoplus show and while at Dinner Denis Reggie invited me to stay at his house for a few days in Atlanta and here I am - staying at the house of the man who created the industry of wedding photojournalism. It's crazy!

Denis Reggie was the first photographer I ever heard speak. I went to a workshop of his in LA a few years back and then I went to Mike Colon's a few months after that and then just earlier this year I went to Gary Fong's One Step Ahead tour and those are the only three people who's workshops I've been too and they are all incredible.

...and there are many things that these guys have in common but one thing that I noticed right off the bat is how incredibly generous they all are. These guys just never stop giving. Honsetly! I've seen it in Colon and Fong for the past year and the same is true for Mr. Reggie! Ever since I got here there have been people coming by the house and chatting and I got to talking with a few people at the PUG group in Atlanta and they all just raved about how Denis Reggie had helped them at some point along the way.

Sorry for the long post but I just had to write about how amazing these guys are and how blessed I've been to be able to watch their careers and learn from them.

Here's a little video that's really just fun and it shows just a small glimpse of Denis Reggie's guest house that I'm staying in. I'll try and get some pics of his main house tomorrow because it's absolutely incredible. He built it brilliantly with a special space for his studio and all of his staff that is attached but still very separate from his home and he also built in the most incredible wine cellar I've ever seen. It must have several thousand bottles of wine in there...and a game room with a TV that's as big as my car. I've never seen a TV so big in my life.

Tomorrow I head home and I'm excited.



Joe Barlow, a pastor, 10th of 14 kids, father of 7, husband of one beautiful wife said...

Pro 22:29 Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before obscure men.

Tracy Rainwater said...


There is another AWESOME photographer who is very giving. His name is David Jay. Maybe you have heard of him. It was GREAT meeting you at OSP South. You and my new friends at OSP have inspired me to totally reinvent my business. Thanks for everything !!!

God bless,
Tracy Rainwater - Calhoun, GA

Sarah Barlow said...

HAHAHA!!!! DAD!! That is sooo funny that you wrote that!! I just texted that to him this morning!!!! :)

So exciting DJ!

Jim Davis Hicks said...


You forgot to mention being in the Amazon with me!!! Come on??? Where is the love.

Just kidding! That really is amazing! keep up the good work "Whatever you do, do it unto the Lord!"

Anonymous said...

and just a few years before that we were breathing darkroom chemicals and praying over our prints!! :)

Anonymous said...

can't wait to see you tomorrow!

Daniel J. Watkins said...

It's got shocks...pegs...LUCKY!!

Anonymous said...

DJ, you're finding out just like I did that the more you give away, the more it comes back to you in multiples.

One thing remarkable about you that made me take a liking to you instantly is that you never pitched me. You also never did suck up because you know how much I hate that. But I could tell you were super ambitious and I always get such a kick watching how much your success keeps multiplying.

Selfishness is suicide. You just keep helping and sharing, and this is why your career is taking off like it is.

The Alpha Course said...


I think you need to write a book - seriously - you've got a great story to tell.

Anonymous said...

dj, that is awesome. i was lucky enough to stay at denis's pad last year. he is truly the man. so gracious. so giving. i can't think how my life would have been different if i hadn't seen his videos like a decade ago.

6 of Four Creations said...

"If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."
Sir Isaac Newton

Completely how we have been feeling.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like my story, DJ! I took Mike Colon's workshop last year, GF's OneStepAhead this year, and Denis' seminar last week at the Expo in NYC. Sorry I missed you on Thursday since you were crashed out in your hotel- I wanted to get YOUR autograph since you're the main reason I could do my first 2 weddings this year with your fantastic products and gracious giving. It's tough starting up with a house full of little kids and still working the "day job", but I just know bookings are coming. Bless you bro!

John Schafer

Anonymous said...

the wedding photography community has to thank all of them for bringing the industry up to another level. what a blessed life, keep it up DJ!

Dane Sanders said...

Just awesome man ... all three of those heros created and then gave in ways anyone else would have trouble fully appreciating ... I'd add Becker to the list too ... forging ground and then inviting an industry to stand on their shoulders. That's the charge you're a part of now. So great ....

Melissa Carl said...

LOL... I wasn't rolling my eyes... but if I was sitting in front of you while you said "Gary Fong is a genious" then I would smack you! lol jk

Gary is my bear man and he is goofy, fun, loving and also a big dork! I know that he is amazing, but I know him as my bear man. So it's funny sometimes to hear people express how great he is. I have to keep him grounded by following their comments up with things like "shut up stupid" It's a woman thing I think! We are here to keep our men grounded!

But I will say that I am his number one fan! He knows his stuff when it comes to business! He might not be able to find his socks or his cell phone, but he knows business.

Love you Bear Man!

Melissa Carl said...

I meant "genius"


Michelle said...

You are blessing to us! You have taken what you have learned from these great men and have passed it on. You are so giving and caring about all that you meet. Thank you for OSP and for just being you!!!

Anonymous said...

its so cool that we're all giving thanks and being thankful for what we have these days. its like a pass it on thingy =).

I am inspired by you DJ, for your willingness to give and not wanting anything in return. Onward to a better year for thanksgiving!

Maybe one day i'll get to hear you speak up front.


aboutimage said...

I wish I were in your shoes! I LOVE Gary Fong and his lightphere. I have three of them plus the amber dome :) Excellent tool for anyone who does not have one. Anyone who doesn't have one has to get one! Also, LOVE David and Denis!!! I've been to see them all speak. Can't wait to see the the video. Your soooo lucky!!!

Anonymous said...

Yeah DJ. Finding OSP has really inspired me to try to take my business to the next level. It's great to be in the company of such wonderful, caring, and sharing people!


Anonymous said...

DJ you inspire me!! You know I love to be mentioned in the same sentence as Denis and Gary but I'm not in the same league as these two icons. Denis and Gary have always been idols/mentors to me and have given me so much of what I have today. Becker is the one who helped me get my start and was so generous to not only introduce me to Denis and Gary, but share so much of his own ideas and wisdom with me. I am a direct result of so many others sharing and giving to me. It's my career mission to give back everything. I'm proud to be your friend DJ and can't wait to see what you do next to take this industry to new heights!

p.s. Aren't Melissa and Gary so cute together?!