Photo of James Crossman

My first camera arrived in the little metal basket of a crane game at City Park, New Orleans when I was ten years old. As soon as I shot the roll of film, I excitedly opened the back of the camera and pulled the film out into the bright sunlight, exposing it. So began my journey into photography. My curiosity about the technical end of photography also led me to take apart my father’s light meter to see how it worked. My father forgave my curiosity and was wise enough to encourage a dream. He told me that the eye of the photographer makes the difference and for my 18th birthday gave me my first “real” camera – a 35mm Pentax.

Later in life, my cameras were stolen and, without means to replace them, my love of photography was satisfied by honing my photographer’s eye while taking pictures of my growing children with disposable cameras.

Life’s journey led me into some interesting work. I ran roller coasters in multiple states and was a magician in the nightclubs of New Orleans’ French Quarter. After working in computer communications and information security, I started working as a penetration tester (hacker) and social engineer. My job was to break into companies, government agencies and banks at their request to help improve their physical and information security. I was given a small digital camera that I used to document where I was in the building and to which critical systems I had gained access. Another exercise for the eye as my left-and-right brained self got caught up finding beauty and grace in my technical world. By then a single father of two teens, seeing the world through a lens helped me retain my sanity and sense of humor.

Approaching photography seriously again I started shooting nature and parks. Some of my work was published in local magazines and by the US State Department. Eventually I turned back to that most interesting animal – the human. This began with portraiture, but shifted after I fell in love with a beautiful woman who is now my wife and partner. Her involvement with local theatre drew my camera and I into that world. Suddenly actors, costumes and the technicalities of lighting surrounded me.

The various facets of my career have combined in the most interesting way to allow me to see people for who they are, to see the secrets in their expression and bring this all to life in an image without distraction. That is truly the art of the headshot.


In 1930, Ansel Adams, the famous landscape photographer, had been training for years to become a concert pianist. After seeing some of the photographs by Paul Strand, he decided that the camera and not the piano would shape his destiny. His mother and aunt were both upset by his decision and pleaded, “Do not give up the piano! The camera cannot express the human soul!” To which Adams replied, “The camera cannot, but the photographer can.”

(Visited 68 times, 1 visits today)