I became a New Mom in 2011 and I noticed that I had to use Google as my primary source of information when I had questions about my pregnancy and about childbirth. For a few years, I would travel the US going baby expos looking for information and resources and I noticed that there was not enough people in the room that looked like me, a black women. There wasn’t a diverse group of women in the room gathering the information that they could benefit from on their pregnancy journey. That’s when I came up with the idea
Buzz Magazine Denver
I’m a survivor of human trafficking. Like most trafficking victims, it started with childhood abuse and the desire to earn attention and affection from others outside of the household. Eventually I found myself in one too many bad choices and I was taken. Twenty years later I finally learned how to speak out about it and wrote my book. From there, it was like an avalanche. One thing after another came up and I realized that not only was that one example of human trafficking, but I’d been trafficked several times in my life without ever even realizing it. I just thought it was abuse, and while no abuse is ever okay, I learned that most people genuinely don’t understand what trafficking means. They think it’s a prostitute and pimp relationship, or like the movie “Taken” when a girl is kidnapped by strangers. They don’t know that it can also be when a boyfriend or fiancee “gives” you to another person (against your will) for an hour/day/weekend in exchange for favors or money. They don’t understand that it’s forced rape at the hands of someone you think you love as they hold you down for someone else to violate you for their own enjoyment. Now I find it to be my life’s mission to not only educate the random masses on the truth, but to help others understand what has happened to them, and where they can go to seek help.
My dad was a home builder so I was on the job site or learning something from him about homes and the way they were built from a very early age. When I was building homes, I loved knowing that every roof I installed or door I hung was all making the American dream possible for someone.
When building slowed during the recession, I was looking at my wife and was wondering what to do. She said why not go back to school and get an Accounting degree. She is a Certified Public Accountant and Certified Fraud Examiner and accounting had been good to her so it might be good to me. I went back to school got my degree (with the help of an expert tutor – my wife) while working and worked my way up to a position working directly below the CFO. I enjoyed accounting but I missed helping people at a personal level.
As my wife has her own business (Facts Figures Forensics PLLC), I started brainstorming what owning my own business might look like and decided that whatever I did, I was going to base it on four things.
1 – Be a better husband to my wife.
2 – Help Others
3 – See a result
4 – Be my own boss.
I looked into home inspections and new that with my building background, I could really help people make informed decisions when it came to their home. That is when I started Mountain View Home Inspections LLC.
I grew up in Philadelphia and stayed in the Northeast until I graduated from St. Joseph’s university. Shortly after, I was able to travel to Europe for months at a time. I spent most of my days in the art museums and galleries storing ideas and absorbing the creativity. At the age of 26 I had the opportunity to moved to Seattle where I began painting and sculpting in a small studio. I spent three years in the Northwest working various jobs and searching for my art form. I decided to move to Tainan Taiwan to travel, teach ESL and study art specifically Chinese landscape painting and calligraphy. Since Tainan was the old cultural center of Taiwan there was a thriving art community that I became involved in. My wife was studying ink and brush and we realized that we would need someone to mount her paintings when we returned to the United States. I apprenticed under master Huang for 5 years in the traditional method of stretching shoji screens, scrolls and works on paper. It was in the studio that I found an art form that truly appealed to my creative side. With this skill I was able to stretch and manipulate paper in ways very few people can. Almost instantly I began creating my own art using these techniques. I had finally found my art form and the discoveries I made in Tainan during those years made all my future work possible. I returned to Seattle in 2005 and immediately opened Nha Vuu Studio and Design with my wife. Our studio also restored works of art on paper for galleries, Asian antique dealers and collectors from all over the country. I was one of the few people in the US able to do this kind of work. During this time I repaired and rebuilt dozens of shoji screens some 200-300 years old. I also began producing and selling Shoji screens of my own. Today I live in the Fort Colins, Colorado and run two art studios, Nha Vuu Studio and Design and Pergamena Fine Art. My wife and I split our time between Fort Collins and Seattle. I still make time to restore art while producing new works year round.
On April 9,2011 my wife was watching our 3 year old son (Bladyn) and our daughter (Raven) while I was at work. After playing all morning in the yard, my wife went to put our son down for a nap (It’s important to point out that my wife was suffering from pneumonia at this time). Bladyn did not want to take a nap so he began to run around our property (3 acres) in protest.
My entire photography career would be nonexistent were it not for my friends. The only reason I picked up a camera in the first place was to memorialize all their little moments. They were so patient when I got my first camera at 16, and brought it along on all our adventures. I never imagined that chasing my friends around with a lens would turn into working with some of my favorite bands, and public figures. I just really loved looking back, seeing pictures of the people I love- mid-laugh- staring off deep in thought, climbing up mountains, and reliving that time, even for a moment.
Soon, I befriended other photographers and models my age in Alaska and started going out on “expeditions” with them. I was lucky to grow up in a state where there are always things to shoot and the scenery never disappoints. Those photographers taught me so much but I never truly felt like I was a strong enough photographer. I would often just take photos of my friends taking photos, behind the scenes, and capture the little moments.
This continued into 2018 when I moved to Fort Collins and befriended Caleb McFadden, frontman of Chess at Breakfast. He invited me to come take photos of the band and even insisted on payment, despite not seeing any of my past work. I made it very clear that I had no idea what I was doing and that there was no way I would accept payment from him, but would give it my best shot . That first concert with Chess at Breakfast rocked my world in more ways than one. The raw energy and unpredictable movements made each photo the ultimate scene to capture. It was the first time I felt like I knew what I was doing, even though I was making it up as I went.
Suddenly, past pictures of my best friends dancing around their kitchens, the behind the scenes while “real” photographers worked, even chasing the Northern Lights back home, were there to guide me. Chess At Breakfast liked my work so we continued to work together. I still did not consider myself to be a photographer, though. I was just a friend of theirs who happened to own a camera and they would pay me because of it. Then, other local bands started reaching out to me for photos and suddenly, I had a business that I never expected.
It’s been about two years since my first shoot with Chess At Breakfast. I’ve been so lucky to take photos of some of my favorite bands as they pass through Northern Colorado and work with public figures such as Temple Grandin, launch my website, and callenliverance.com. I continue to befriend many talented musicians, fellow photographers, artists, models, and just all around wonderful people. I could not be more thankful for all the opportunities I have been given but I still don’t consider myself a photographer. I just happen to own a camera and get to capture the little moments for all the lovely friends I am surrounded by.