I’ve been a photographer since the day my father handed me a camera; I was nine years old. He had been a professional, and we spent many hours talking about what makes photography special, seeing it mostly in everyday life.

By my thinking, photography is great when it finds the best in people where they live, while they celebrate and in the wide range of emotions that make us who we are. A father seeing his daughter for the first time in her wedding dress, a child comfortably curled into a ball in his mother’s lap, a couple on their 50th anniversary posing with all the pride and joy that comes at a moment like that—these are the images that flash through my mind when I pick up a camera.

I grew up in Philadelphia as part of a very large, loud extended family prone to frequent celebrations. That experience instilled in me a great love of such events, and I’m convinced that an appreciation for the family dynamics and very personal human emotions at work during weddings, anniversaries, bar mitzvahs and other events makes me pretty good at what I do.

Certainly I know my way around a camera, but I think it’s far more important to appreciate, understand and enjoy people. In photography, as in so much else, that makes all the difference.