The Secret Life of Dennis

The secret life of Dennis

Comic Con San Diego 2018

Comic Con San Diego 2018

I never thought in a million year that I would be the one to say I have a “secret identity”, but that is exactly what I did. Art is some form has been apart of my life since I was little. As I progressed through school, I thought I would be a history teacher. It wasn’t until I got to college I discovered Athletic Training/ Sport Medicine. I grew up play Soccer, then switched to Volleyball in high school. We never had an Athletic Trainer, so, thanks to a friend, I randomly took a class in college that sent me rocketing toward a career in Medicine. Since then (20 years ago), I reached some of the highest heights in Athletic Training. It includes Professional Sports, Olympic Level, as well as major college level. 


Now, I can hear you asking yourself “So what? How does this relate?”…

Well, quite simply, the two go hand in hand. 

First off, creativity is a core skill to what I do in the day job. I have to be creative in rehabs to get athletes back to a level that will allow then to compete at their very best. This creativity keeps them motivated and engaged while creating a sport specific experience that will directly relate to the required skillset on the field. It also stimulates your thinking. 

San Diego Riptide Arena Football -2003

San Diego Riptide Arena Football -2003

Secondly, it fights “burn out”. Medicine is stressful. I have the lives of 450 athletes in my hands on any given day. We can work up to 60+ hours a week….especially during football season. This kind of stress wears on you both physically and mentally, so it is important to have some kind of release. I happen to delve into art and photography to stimulate the creativity and relieve that stress. 

Spending time with National Teams, I have been afforded opportunities to travel all over the world. My camera goes everywhere I go. Even though we don’t get a ton of time off to sightsee, I take advantage of the precious little time and try to explore and shoot whatever I can. 

Often times a little pocket sketchbook and a small stash of pens and pencils travel with me. Sometimes its nice to find a little Cafe or Coffee Shop and just sketch. 

More often than not, I tend to keep the two separate in terms telling people about the other. Me having been published is not important to an athlete any more than working with Team USA at the World University Games is to a gallery owner. But, like I said, that intrinsic creativity will cross over and be beneficial to both. 

I have always tried to be as good as I can in anything I do. this has taken me to some pretty awesome highs in both paths. When the two cross, it does make for some pretty fun conversations. 

I encourage everyone to find that path… discover your skill(s) and create your secret identity! 

On Air with FM94.9 Radio

On Air with FM94.9 Radio

Palomar College

Palomar College

U20 Rugby World Championships - France

U20 Rugby World Championships - France

“Living in the City” Gallery Show at Studio Door Gallery

“Living in the City” Gallery Show at Studio Door Gallery

Television interview at Comic Con with Mark Christopher Lawrence

Television interview at Comic Con with Mark Christopher Lawrence

"Walk a mile..."

Project Idea - Walk a mile


“Look up and look down”

Inside New York New York Hotel - Las Vegas NV

Inside New York New York Hotel - Las Vegas NV

To me, It is such a great cliche. I love “…Walk a mile in their shoes.” You never know what someone is going through until you have been through it yourself.

Well, I took that idea and spun it a bit to create a simple yet fun photo project anyone can do. There is soooo much to see when you really look around you. “Looking around” means all directions. Look up and see the clouds or the architecture of buildings. In this case, it was looking down. Being an artist as well, I love to see all kinds of creativity, whether it is natural or manmade. The more I looked around, the more I saw and that is what I have tried to capture in the project. 

Top of the Supercross Start Ramp at the Olympic Training Center, Chula Vista CA.

Top of the Supercross Start Ramp at the Olympic Training Center, Chula Vista CA.

And the more you do, the things you will see. What you will discover is a whole new world. Life takes you so many places and there are so many interesting things just under your feet. Fallen leaves, cool textures, fun paintings, or rugged spaces. 

My life has taken me across the world. I’ve amazingly fortunate to have job that has carried me to every occupied continent on the planet. Not every everyone has that chance, but you can still do such a simple project as this. Some of the images included in this post where taken within a few miles of my house, while others were taken in the far flung reaches of the globe.

Stairwell at Museum of Man - San Diego CA

Stairwell at Museum of Man - San Diego CA

Things to look for as you move around:

  • Fallen leaves 

  • Trails, rocks, and branches

  • interesting manhole covers

  • Beach and water

  • colors and patterns

  • displays and decorations

  • Archaeological discoveries (be mindful!) 

This project can be done anywhere and with nothing more than a Mobile Phone camera. Very few people are “experts” and “professionals” in the world of photography, but that doesn’t matter for this. Be creative. Just snapping a picture is fine of course, but remember the basics of composure and Rule of Thirds. You will be surprised how much this will elevate your images.


So get out there and apply your skill and creative to achieve something more! 

Hotel rooftop Pool - Montevideo, Uruguay

Hotel rooftop Pool - Montevideo, Uruguay

Rugby Pitch with USA Rugby - Coventry England

Rugby Pitch with USA Rugby - Coventry England

To Compete or not....

To compete or not….

I wrestle with the idea more than not. I think there is a definite positive to the competition scene in the world of photography, but it is also AMAZINGLY discouraging. I have turned down more times than I can count. I had given up years ago after being rejected so many times. (about 9 different times)

It took me a long time to learn to appreciate the rejection. Once I did, I really began to evolve me skills. I reached out to friends that were more successful than me to ask for advice and criticism. I took that and really worked on my shortcomings. I then entered very small and very local “competitions” that amounted to nothing more than a bit of bragging rights and maybe being published in a small local paper. 

The small successes I had led to entering and being accepted to Open Call gallery shows. San diego has a wonderful and vibrant art scene. there all kinds of smaller, neighborhood galleries that look for emerging artist/ photographers. These types of events allowed me measure my skill set in a different way and gain some exposure. I would get feedback from a different group of people including other artists, gallery owners, and fans

Male Lion - 2018 Honorable Mention Ribbon winner : San Diego County Fair International Photography Competition

Male Lion - 2018 Honorable Mention Ribbon winner : San Diego County Fair International Photography Competition

After all that, I felt I was ready to enter a bigger, international competition, so I finally sent a submission to the San Diego County Fair competition last year first time in years. It is a very prestigious international competition. Sure only one image (of seven) was accepted, but it was accepted into one of the toughest categories; “Black and White Wildlife”. It also resulted in an “honorable mention” ribbon. Last year showed me that I could have some success and was on the right track.

Now, I do believe that being published, winning comps, and being gallery shown does lead to credibility as artist, but I also like to balance that against a one on one interaction with a fan.

Big call outs are intimidating, so look around and start small. Look to your newspapers, parks department, or county fairs. Ask for critiques not just from friends and family, but from others in the field. Finally, and most importantly, learn to edit your submissions. This last point was especially difficult for me. I have some images that I just love, but they never get the traction I would have expected. Prepping the fair submission is a great example. I sent a friend about 15 different images that I loved. She very candidly said “Yes, No, Yes, No” to every single one of them. She was very direct. It was difficult to hear, but it made for a great selection of just 7 images. Editing your self is challenging at best, but is vital to the process. Within that, you may need to edit the image itself. My advise is to edit with a purpose. I know how to do a ton of things in Photoshop and my skills are growing nicely in Lightroom, but over processed photos can be a big turn off judges and gallery owners. That will cost you in the long run. 

At the end of the day it is ok to put yourself out there. That is how you grow. It is ok to fail. That is also how you grow. Start small, think local, and shoot often. You will be surprised with what can happen.

~Dennis

I wish I could do that....

I wish I could do that but… *insert excuse here.* 


In 1998, I co founded Bloodfire Studios with a great friend of mine. Over the years, we predicted some pretty cool stuff… and made a ton of mistakes. But, we learned from them and moved forward. 

Fast forward to 2014, and I took a huge leap of faith. I set up and launched Green Hills Entertainment. Each year since has seen positive growth in company, my skill, and my confidence. Within that, there has been a common underlying theme…

 “I wish I could do that but…”    *insert excuse here.*

I just laugh.

"Only in the leap from the lion's head will he prove his worth” ~Professor Jones Sr.

"Only in the leap from the lion's head will he prove his worth” ~Professor Jones Sr.

People come up to me at shows and say something along these line all the time. Lets just say, if I had a nickel for every time I heard a variation of this, the shows would be paid for without a single sale!  

The problem is, I don’t believe it. Anyone is capable of doing something like this. 

I chose the Indiana Jones image because it completely represents what we are talking about. 

In order to reach your “grail”, you have to take a leap of faith and commit to a path. People don’t understand that you are playing a long game and need patience. You have to practice your chosen skill. Why is this any different than any other task in life. We have to practice writing, talking, reading, walking, etc, so why is this any different?

Everyone seems to think I have some innate talent that few possess. The only thing I possess is patience and an understanding of failure as a teacher. I have overcome my fear and am willing to put myself out there. I try to surround myself with honest people that are supportive yet aren’t afraid to call me out if they don’t like something. I try create something almost every day. That could be a few sketches in a book, a painting, a piece of jewelry, or a couple of hours taking pictures.

“But, I don’t have time.”

Why not?

I have a full time job that can mean up to 60 hours a week, a wife, 2 kids, AND the company. I manage to find time to be creative and do everything else. Sure you have to prioritize things, but you can sneak in creative time. I take advantage of my commute to think of new ideas for paintings, jewelry, stories, etc. I have a little down time at work where I can draw or research. I get the occasional day of during the week and it is game on.

Whatever you can spare, do it. You will be very surprised with the gains you can make in just a year or two.