My Story

In 2005 my mother slipped into a coma..

I thought that was it. I was devastated. After pleading to the transplant coordinator at UCLA, my mother was given a second chance. She had been on the liver transplant list for 5+ years and her number was finally called.


She awoke the next day after the 10+ hour surgery..

My mom’s body was taking the new liver well and she seemed to be on a speedy road to recovery but something just wasn’t right. The doctors were combating a pesky lung infection that was seriously hampering her ability to breath on her own.

For 31 days I communicated on a white board with my mother who was unable to speak due to being ventilated. She would point out letters and I would arrange them on the white board to form sentences..

I visited her almost every day. The ICU doctor in charge of my mother’s care even highlighted the fact that I was there more than she was. Even still, I felt helpless and I guess being there gave me a sense of control.

Sadly, my mother lost her battle and passed away in ICU, 31 days post transplant.

After I sent her off in style (click here to view) I had the unfortunate task of going through her belongings. To make things worse, I had to do this in two different states.

Needless to say, it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my life. I donated virtually everything to charity and kept some personal items that belonged to my mom, along with some of my own childhood mementos.

You know what else I kept?

Our family photos.

My mother was my only active parent and my only immediate family. I have no brothers and sisters and my grandparents passed away when I was in high school. I realized that the only tangible memories I had of my family were in those albums and images my mom had kept through the years. It was then that I realized the IMPORTANCE and the POWER of the photograph.

That is a major reason why I have committed my life to being a photographer. This is not my hobby. I don’t shoot for extra cash. Photography is my life. It is my passion.

After my mother's death, I quit my job as a Commercial Underwriter and went back to college. I went to Mesa Community College in San Diego and transferred to CSU, San Marcos in North County San Diego. 3 long years later, I graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Business Administration with an emphasis in Accounting. It was one of the proudest and happiest days in my life. I wish my mother was there to witness it. She was a CFO and would have absolutely found so much humor in my degree choice. =)

While I was a full time student, I started shooting part time. Mostly real estate back then but one day I sent my resume and portfolio out to about 20 photographers in San Diego and ended up apprenticing for an up and coming wedding and lifestyle photographer in the area. We shot 15 weddings that Summer and once I completed my apprenticeship I decided to go off on my own. That was 2006 when I launched John D. Russell Photography.

Nowadays, I specialize in commercial photography and lifestyle photography.

I've traveled all over the world and am internationally published.  My work has taken me around the U.S and to exotic locations including French Polynesia, Australia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Egypt, Spain, Portugal, The Netherlands, Switzerland, St. Lucia, The Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Hawaii. In fact, I've been on assignment in over 30 countries!

Commercial clients whom I have had the absolute pleasure of working with include: Ford Motor Co., Toyota, Habitat for Humanity,Cal State Los Angeles, Skechers, CBRE, , Integramed,, NanoH2O and many, many more.

Celebrities who I've had the pleasure of photographing include, Bruno Mars, John Legend, Johnnie Morton, Ron Artest, Earvin "Magic" Johnson, Jennie Garth, Kaley Cuoco and several others.

A few time each year I organize and lead bespoke, adventure photography trips to exotic locales around the globe I call PRSPCTV. Current and past offerings include Africa Photo Safaris, Kilimanjaro Climbs, Riding Motorcycles in India, Climbing Mount Elbrus, Peru Trekking and Adventures, Jumping Trains in Myanmar, and Havasupai Falls Hiking and Camping.

I am active in other service based organizations and currently serve in Leadership in my local entrepreneur group. I also served as the Marketing Chair for (310) Young Professionals (local non profit) in its first year of operations. That's right! I helped launch a non-profit (pretty proud about that)! I love to volunteer my time and skills and I have worked extensively with organizations like Habitat for Humanity, Senhoa, The Giving Spirit, and Rotary International. 

My story is my own. It's been a rough path but I'm proud of myself for the challenges I've overcome. It's made me a better man, a better friend, a better human, and a deeply passionate photographer. Please contact me for all of your photography and digital media needs. I have excellent references and a proven track record. More importantly I'm fun and light and truly enjoy and am deeply connected to what I do. It would be an honor and a pleasure to work with you. - John D. Russell

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© John D. Russell • All Rights Reserved • • Manhattan Beach, CA. • +1 310 722 2027

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