Stoneheart The journey of a musician, and the photographer lucky enough to document it

The greatest gift a young photographer can receive is a willing subject. I received this gift in 2009, shortly after I purchased my first “real” camera, in the form of my friend TJ.

A frame from our first shoot, April 2009.

Origins

TJ had moved into my neighborhood while his family’s house was being built in another subdivision. Throughout high school, he was playing with a local band, while also publishing the occasional individual track to his MySpace pages.

These songs were entirely self-produced and self-recorded and were the early makings of a solo career. As he was growing individual presence, we planned photoshoots to use for promotion.

These adventures were some of the defining ones of my early photographic career. Whether it was swimming in a lake with my only camera around my neck, climbing on abandoned buildings, or trespassing on countless properties, we had the creative freedom to extend his story as an artist to the visual world.

In 2011, TJ released his first full length album, Hollows & Crossroads. The ten track feature length marked a major evolution for his music as a solo artist. The music ranged from the catchy singalong tunes of “Talks in Charter Alley” to the bluegrass inspired “Southern Gold.”

The progression of his work is easily apparent from the tracks that have been in my frequent playlists for years. As I review the images from our many shoots, equally apparent is my progression as a photographer. These photographic adventures - facilitated by my close creative friend - have contributed tremendously to my growth. In the company of peers, you have the opportunity and freedom to be creatively brave.

More recently, I’ve had the privilege of listening to a handful of tracks from his upcoming album, Stoneheart, set to release later this year. The tracks are an evolution from his past work while also feeling like a substantial growth. It’s a refinement of his past works, but holds his core sound as sacrosanct.

For me, TJ is at the pinnacle of what a creative seeks to do. He has no ultimate commercial or financial goal in creating music. He creates because he has to; it’s what he knows how to do. I’ve been privileged to be along for the ride and document his growth, and plan on continuing into the future.

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