I celebrated my 43rd year on Mother Earth last week. I received a bunch of well wishes, thoughts and questions. There was one email from a friend that made me stop and think, which turned into several hours of pondering. The question was: “If you could have a do-over in life, what would you do differently, and what would you be shooting?”

That’s a difficult one to answer, as we’re a product of our collective experiences. Are there opportunities, decisions and risks I might have chosen differently? Sure. Would I be the same person I am today? Definitely not.

There are certainly times where I should have weighed the risks of pushing my body beyond what I thought I could do (which probably would have saved a few trips to the doctor, and a drawer full of splints and braces), done a little better diligence prepping for photo trips (especially in allotting time) and listened more to, and put more stock in, my inner voice (or gut feeling). There were days when I planned to go shooting, but didn’t for some reason or another, only to learn that I had missed some of the biggest waves ever seen at Pe’ahi (Jaws), or the elusive green flash at sunset.

Looking back, there were certainly a few opportunities I wished I hadn’t passed on (such as taken the race car driver path, or extended my career as an automotive journalist), but they don’t invoke the “What the heck was I thinking?!” slap to the back of the head. And yes, there were a few opportunities that I jumped in feet first with great anticipation, work and determination, only later to leave penniless and scarred deeply.

But this life that I’ve been blessed to live – through the roller coaster of life that included the good, the bad and sometimes the ugly – is one I would never change.

For me, life is like photography. It’s seeing things, and working in a unique way that is completely your own. It’s an endless learning curve where we make mistakes, and (hopefully) learn from them, so we don’t (again, hopefully) make the same mistake again. Similarly, we try a new photo technique or something different in life and learn and new trade or a new way to make images.

Heck, I’ve shunned peanut butter for most of my life (it was a consistency thing). I finally tried it again last year, and now I can’t get enough of it (especially macadamia nut butter – ono grinds!).

The thought of changing my photography style (and even my chosen genre of imagery) sends shivers down my spine. I’ve always had too passions in my life: Cars and nature. There are no two subjects I’d rather capture (well, I might add antique and classic power boats to that list, as there’s nothing like a wooden boat with a Packard Liberty V12 beneath the hatch).

That all said, there is one thing I wish I could definitely change: I wish I had a bit more melanin in my complexion so I wouldn’t have to slather myself in SPF 5,000 every time I wanted to go outdoors! Besides, sun burns are a pain… literally.