An interviewer once asked photographer Jeremy Cowart why it is important to pursue one's passion. Cowart answered, "The other day, I passed a guy at my office building and I asked him, 'How are you doing?' His response: 'It's just another day.' I hope I never ever answer that question with that response."
Each day is a treasure, an opportunity, a long string of moments ripe with passion. In reading or listening to Jeremy Cowart, that word - passion - appears over and over again, like a mantra. Literally, passion means "ardent love" or "boundless enthusiasm." Few people live with passion; fewer still can artistically capture it. Cowart has the even rarer gift of taking those frozen moments and using them to inspire passion in others.
Cowart began in painting, then moved into graphic design. Originally, his photography was meant to be only one component of his graphic design projects, but by 2005, Cowart's love of pixels took over his craft and he devoted himself to photography full-time. His work quickly drew the attention of a photography agent, and soon he was landing images in TIME, Rolling Stone, People Magazine and USA Today. His portrait work spans a gamut stretching from Sting to the Kardashians to Gwenyth Paltrow. He followed Britney Spears on her 2009 "Circus" world tour.
Most photographers would find that such gigs define their careers. Cowart is a different sort of person. For him, success is a means to an end – a "platform," as he often calls it. After only three years as a professional photographer, Cowart used his platform to launch a three-month, seventeen-country odyssey called the Passion World Tour. This project resulted in Awakening, a unique, vibrant look at young adults from across the globe and the shared energy binding them together. In late 2009, Cowart founded Help-Portrait, a global effort of over 15,000 photographers using their resources to take portraits of the needy and provide them with a hard copy - perhaps the only loving view they've seen of themselves in decades. In early 2010, after a shattering earthquake struck Haiti, Cowart saw the chance to use his passion. He wandered the rubble, saw what the stricken people saw, and produced the deeply moving Voices of Haiti. Most recently, Cowart's Voices of Reconciliation revealed almost inconceivable depths of beauty and human forgiveness in the aftermath of Rwanda's 1994 genocide.
"The projects have all had different impacts," says Cowart. "The Haiti project went on to be displayed in the halls of the U.N. in New York in front of all our government leaders, and it helped to raise a lot of money [$10 billion] for Haiti. Then my Voice of the Reconciliation project was featured in many media outlets, such as CNN. But the biggest of all, Help-Portrait, which is ongoing, has changed many thousands of lives through the power of a photo. The stories of how that's impacted people are endless."
For Cowart, his platform exists to illuminate and elevate, to reveal the beauty around us and inspire people to help.
Cowart's ability to build and leverage his platform depends on the equipment of his craft. He shoots a Canon EOS 5D Mark II, a 21.1-megapixel dream machine that generates RAW images of about 23MB each. Each of these streams into a tethered MacBook Pro, which in turn backs up files to any of the several 250-gram G-DRIVE minis Cowart totes about in his bag.
Even with only six years as a pro photographer, Cowart knows what it's like to lose files, which is why he's now nearly obsessive about having multiple backups.
"I try to keep every job on multiple externals in case of something going bad," he says. "I also try to keep it on my cards and not erase any cards in case something bad were to happen. You can never be too careful."
Cowart never trusts his computer as a storage medium. Beyond flash cards and G-DRIVE minis, he relies on an 8TB G-RAID with Thunderbolt. Now that Cowart is storing nearly 20TB of file data, his need for the 10Gb/s transfers enabled by his G-Technology drive has become more important than ever.
"Thunderbolt is such a major step forward that I'm kind of giddy with it," says Cowart. "I need speed, and G-Technology is delivering that in this Thunderbolt unit. I'm just loving it."
Of course, the photos never stop stacking up, and Cowart is waiting anxiously for G-Technology's next G-RAID to arrive. The drive will be one more node in a chain of drives reaching from Cowart's house to his office and even to his business manager's office as he segregates current work from long-term file storage and implements his unique strategy for backup protection.
Device performance saves time, but nothing matters more to a photographer than reliability. Any pro needs to know that the work he or she captures in the field will survive intact all the way into editing and still be available for retrieval many years in the future.
"In the past, I used to buy whatever," says Cowart. "But I've lost a lot of photos over the years and had a lot of brands go bad. Now I trust G-Technology drives. It seems like all the pros I know use G-Technology. They're just very reliable. It says a lot to me that G-Technology is the major drive brand in the Apple Store. If Apple is willing to trust their brand to G-Technology, that's huge."
As amazing and transformative as Cowart's work is, he needs the peace of mind that comes with being able to trust his digital media storage. In a sense, his platform is built on it, and that platform is at the heart of the legacy he's striving to leave.
"I want to be remembered as somebody who used his platform to give back to people in need. You know, photography in general is a very arrogant field. It's all me-me-me. 'I'm the best, I'm the best.' But I could care less about the competition or being the best. To me, it's just about building a platform, being good at what you do, and using that to make an impact on something bigger than yourself."