Amanda Marsalis is one of my favorite portrait photographers. She is very good at creating stark, straight-forward, almost expressionless images of her subjects. It’s as if she said, "hey" and her subject turned around, unstilted, and she captured the moment. 

For this self-portrait, I was doing my best Amanda Marsalis impression. I feel like my lips are a bit more tense than the subjects in her images but that's okay. It was true to my feelings at the time, I had a bit of a chip on my shoulder. 

It was March of 2013, and I was inspired. I was energized. I think it was the most deeply motivated I had been in my entire life. My mother had passed away from cancer a year prior and I found myself at a crossroads, knowing that I needed to move forward in life. A week prior to this portrait, I had traveled to Los Angeles and made the internal decision that I would move to California. At the time, I had no idea how the pieces would fall into place, I just knew that my destination was Los Angeles.

The portrait was a representation of my new found focus, desire and drive. I cannot lie, during this time, though there were new and exciting things happening around me, in private I was broken. I was low. I was hurting. I realized that these feelings could bury me indefinitely unless I consciously did something about it. This self-portrait was the start of that realization to push forward. I was going to come back in life. I was going to win, no matter what. I put on my favorite suit, one my mother had given to me as a gift on my 27th birthday. It was the last of my birthdays that she would ever see. I stared straight into the lens, without waver, and…