I was born in Naples Italy to an Italian mother and an American career-Navy father, which meant I lived in more than a few places as I grew up. In addition to Italy, my family also lived in Iceland, Maine, Chicago, and Florida, and traveled all over Europe.
My father was a photography enthusiast. He created a black and white darkroom in whatever home we lived in, and always had great cameras and equipment. I found the wonder and magic of watching an image appear from a blank sheet of paper in the Kodak developer intoxicating, and by the time I was 13, I was knocking on neighbor’s doors trying to earn money mowing lawns so I could buy a camera of my own.
I never considered photography as a career, but my first year in college was a revelation. When the only subject I didn’t pass by the skin of my teeth was black and white darkroom 101, the future seemed clear.
I moved to New York City in my early twenties and for several years apprenticed with a series of incredible photographers. We worked on major ad campaigns and editorial assignments, which was a great hands-on way to learn the trade. These mentors not only taught me about the business of photography, but the more subtle aspects of the art as well. As I progressed, I was able to see that my strength and passion lay in capturing expression and mood, and realized I was going to be a portrait photographer. I’m still not sure if I chose this path, or the path chose me.
Early in my career, a stock photo agency offered me the remarkable opportunity to travel the world making images. It was a dream gig that had me shooting all the time in all types of conditions, which allowed me to create and fine-tune my style, and progress very quickly. I found that no matter where I went or who I photographed, common threads emerged in my work. I was always attracted to the poetry and beauty in the everyday, and my images told stories that didn’t feel deceptive or contrived.
An important part of being a good portrait photographer is an ability to relate to who’s being photographed and helping them feel at ease. I think the fact that my early life was spent living and traveling all over the world allows me to quickly feel comfortable in new situations, and help my subjects feel that way too.
I’ve been very lucky in my career to encounter the very best of clients and situations. My goal is to help my subjects look their most authentic selves. To do this, I try to make technique and equipment feel virtually invisible. I relish capturing emotional connections and unguarded moments and allowing space for happy accidents. Even after all these years, whenever I pick up a camera, I know this is still what I love most to do.
My wife Lucia Reale-Vogt helps produce many of my photography shoots. She always tells it like it is, and is the person I trust most when I need an honest appraisal of my work.
Home base is idyllic Woodstock New York,
I hope to see you in front of my camera.