Where the shutter hits the word.

When people ask me how long I’ve been into cars for, I find answering accurately to be a bit tricky. The smart aleck in me wants to give my current age, but the realist in me knows that’s impossible to prove. So I would do what any reasonable 30-something would do…I ask my mom.

Naturally, she takes all the credit for my love of the automobile.

Actually, both her and my father had a case of diecast cars each when I was younger, filled with original Hot Wheels, Lesney Matchbox, Johnny Lightnings and Aurora Cigar Box cars. Most likely it was days spent before I was school age, rolling those cars around on the floor of our apartment in Wallington, that really sparked my interest in cars.

Childhood memories are filled with bins of Hot Wheels, Matchbox and Majorette (which are now back in my possession and safe in my own garage), magazine subscriptions to the four major rags (C&D, R&T, MT and A), the annual trip to the Javits Center with my aunt and one lucky friend for the New York International Auto Show, and always having a disposable camera with me so I could take pictures of random cars. Sadly, my memories do not include a Power Wheels.

As time drove on, my love for cars only strengthened. From a young age I was able to identify cars by their lights, and I’m sure I rambled on about the particularities that set each one apart. It seems I never did outgrow the ramblings.

If I really sat around and thought about it, I’m sure I could fill a book that no one would read with all of my automotive memories. Maybe one day I’ll do that, but not today. My first car was a hand-me-down 1987 Toyota Corolla that was in mint condition, until one unfortunate morning on my way to school I pushed the limits of the skinny tires too far. A 1989 Toyota Supra Sport Roof replaced that for about a year and afterwards, it has been a string of VWs since, including a 20th Anniversary GTI in the best color - Jazz blue - and a 16V Scirocco, the worst and only winter beater I've owned. I currently own my attainable ‘dream’ car - a Golf R, in the best color - Lapiz blue. I am also in touch with my JDM side, keeping an '81 Celica GT Liftback in the garage as a rolling homage to my mom’s first car - a 1981 Celica ST in the same copper metallic (emphasis: NOT brown).

Growing up, my only vices were car related, and I worked 2-3 jobs to maintain the habit. My bedroom walls would have given Martha Stewart an aneurysm. Posters and magazine clippings, applied with a combination of thumbtacks and scotch tape, complemented the half dozen haphazardly hung shelves for 1:18 scale models. It’s no wonder girls were clamoring to get through the threshold and into my teenage self’s idea of a bachelor pad. Since my youth, I’ve amassed an unbelievably large (and surprisingly organized) diecast collection that continues to grow to this day. Between 2002 and 2007, I’ve also dumped more money into a 1998 Jetta GLS that I care to admit (or acknowledge, in an effort to maintain sanity). 

I believe it’s time I stopped exercising my inner vocal chords and get to why you’re here today reading this rambling snippet of some stranger’s life: the introduction and courtship of writing and photography which ultimately led to the marriage of the two that has become Bearded Mug Media.

Since that first visit to the NYIAS, I’ve equipped myself with some sort of camera to capture the automotive forms that caught my eye. Back then it was Kodak disposables and I have a very large box of 35mm prints (and the negatives, too!) of the aforementioned auto show, assorted other events, and random cars I spotted on the street. The earlier pictures were no museum pieces, that’s for sure, and I’ve certainly come a long, long way in terms of frame composition and other technical aspects, but I’m glad that I have them to reminisce by.

As far as writing goes, I took an interest in it in high school after taking a journalism class as a senior. And as every high school student knows exactly what they want to do for the rest of their life before enrolling in college, I decided a journalism career was for me.

Long story short, it wasn’t, but I still enjoyed putting words into sentences and telling stories. And I still do.

So an outlet was needed for both my writing and photography and after a very short brainstorming with a friend at work, Bearded Mug Media was born. It was a simple approach to what I would call my one-man operation. I found that photographers whose names played double duty (e.g. Bob Smith Photography, B. Smith Pictures) were easily forgettable unless their work was next level and they’ve already established themselves. It’s hard enough trying to break into the industry without having to worry about your clients forgetting your name. Instead of that route, I chose an amalgam of two things I enjoyed - the beard on my face and the perpetual cup of black coffee that followed me around. 

A quick Google search revealed that there was already some chump on the Internet peddling 5th grade art class quality coffee mugs with the likeness of a bearded fellow molded into them, reinforcing the idea that nothing is original anymore. Unless of course you add ‘media’ to the caboose end. A star was born.

Over the last four plus years, I’ve enjoyed attending and capturing as many car-related events as possible, mostly staying behind the camera and out of the path of conversations amongst enthusiasts. For the longest time, I preferred rather to be the fly on the wall, avoiding getting into conversations that would prevent me from capturing that National Geographic Picture of the Year. I still do, but often dabble in small talk with many of the regulars. The car community is filled with wonderful people with corresponding wonderful stories, so long as you take the time to listen.

The content that you see on my website, Facebook, and Instagram are my interpretations of these stories, told both in image and written word forms. Enjoy.