James Gommel / Photographer
I was born and raised in small city just east of Cleveland, and have called it home for over 40 years. At a young age, I developed a love for the arts. I would sit up in my room all night drawing portraits of famous rock-n-roll and movie stars. It wasn't until my junior year in high school, that I held my first 35mm film camera. I studied Commercial Art for two years which included some time in the dark room developing film. I was instantly hooked. I loved every aspect of photography, I loved the feel of the camera, the smell of developer solution, and the excitement of capturing a moment in time that could be kept forever. When I graduated high-school in 1990, I joined the United States Navy, and spent the majority of my tour of duty at sea. We were at war with Iraq at the time (The Persian Gulf War), so times were rough and due to terror threats, port visits were few and far between. Unfortunately, when I enlisted, I didn't think to buy a decent camera to take with me, so the majority of my time in the middle east was never documented on film.
After the military, I decided to continue my love for the arts by studying music theory at our local community college. Over the next two years, I continued my education and worked at a local hardware store to make ends meet. Over time, I formed a rock band with some friends and thought I was on top of the world. I was living the dream. We recorded our first album and attended our first photo shoot... there came that twitch again, the love of the photograph - only this time I was on the receiving end of the camera.
In 1997, I starting working for a large insurance company, and joined the ranks of the IT industry. In 1999 I sold a bunch of music gear and purchased my first digital SLR camera (Nikon D70s) with a few lenses. Over the next few years, I beat that camera up. It was a whole lot different than what I was used to, but I was enjoying the digital age.
In 2011, while on vacation with the family, my Nikon D70s finally gave up and threw in the towel. Luckily we were able to find a local camera store in the area and I bought my Nikon D7000. I soon realized what I had been missing all these years. Cameras have changed drastically over the last 10 years.
After many years as an amateur photographer/hobbyist, I decided to start a small photography business called F/StopMedia Photography. It quickly became apparent that I was enjoying my part time job/hobby much more than my full time job and I decided that this was where my future lay. I decided to leave my job in IT and become a full time professional photographer.
Throughout the years I’ve been involved with photography, I’ve learned to appreciate all the small things that make up the beautiful world we live in. Through my lens I capture special moments with true emotion and translate them into art. I love to show real life. These are the moments we will treasure forever. My philosophy is a simple one: keep things as real as possible.
The best part of my job is that I get to interact and be a part of the fun. Getting to know my clients, capturing real interactions, and telling their story, is what inspires me. Each shoot is unique and a new chance for me to share with others my passion for photography.