Hi, my name is James!

Owner of Top Shot Designs

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About Me

Growing up I always thought I wanted to go into the medical field. I had intentions of going to medical school to become a neurosurgeon or attending nursing school to obtain my nurse practitioner license. That goal later became unobtainable when I was diagnosed with Von Hippel-Lindau (VHL for short), a rare genetic disease that causes tumors to develop throughout the body. This diagnosis resulted in a slew of brain and spinal cord neurosurgeries, ultimately resulting in me becoming paralyzed in 2015. Due to my spinal cord tumors, I ambulate via a power wheelchair now and require assistance with many daily tasks that most able-bodied individuals are able to complete independently. 

After my paralysis, I became very depressed and fell into a dark hole. The little ambition I had left to do anything was gone. I felt like my life was over and I could no longer do anything because I wasn’t “normal” anymore. In October 2016, I came across a Nikon camera deal and decided to purchase it to challenge myself into learning photography. While I always enjoyed taking pictures, I can say that my true passion for photography was discovered when I bought this equipment a year after my paralysis. I spent the following six months teaching myself through books and YouTube videos until I did my first real photoshoot in April of 2017. From the time I bought the Nikon DSLR, I learned how easily photography has helped lessen my depression through my ability of being able to interact with people and establish a connection throughout their sessions.

While VHL has drastically changed my life, this is where I discovered my love for photography and graphic design. Although I taught myself the intricacies of photography, I graduated from Southern New Hampshire University with a bachelor’s degree in graphic design and media arts. I may have chosen differently without my paralysis, but I knew I needed to choose a less physically demanding career path, and what better combination than two of my greatest passions? My long-term goal is to incorporate my photography and graphic design skills into a fulfilling business that I can run from anywhere. Put simply, living with VHL has been both a blessing and a curse, but without it, I know I would have never found my hidden interests, nor would I have the opportunity to potentially work with you.

“My ability is stronger than my disability.”