“If you do what you love, you’ll never work another day in your life.” – David Wagner
David Wagner is a professional photographer that is well known for capturing beautiful images. Despite photography clearly being his true calling, it took a crises for David to heed and answer. After more than two decades as an art director in advertising, David’s life was turned upside down. Amidst calamity, such turmoil, David made a heart-felt work and lifestyle commitment to follow his dream. From that decisive moment, David would put every fiber of his being into truly living each day – every day.
I grew up in a very small town in Missouri and most jobs there had to do with building fences or some type of farm work. So, during the summers, I was outside hauling hay and building fences. But during my junior year in high school, I got a job at a small print shop. That’s where I really began to learn about design and advertising. That job gave me the experience to work at the printing department in my college which was very large and I was able to design brochures, logos and all types of printed material. It was there that I started building a design portfolio which helped me get that first job in advertising. It was very much a domino effect.
I went to college in Springfield Missouri and that’s where I took a beginning photography class where we shot only black and white on film, this was before digital photography. I knew then that I loved photography, it was one of the only things that I did for me. Unlike my designer work, I didn’t care what anyone else thought of my work. It was pure self-indulgent creative work. But I also knew that it was very unlikely that I would find a job as a photographer right out of college. So I followed the advertising path.
My college degree was in Fine Art and I knew I wanted to be an art director at an advertising agency. After college I got a job as an art director at a very small ad agency in Houston TX. Advertising was very different back then, this was before computers were really being used for anything other than word processing. There were no design programs at that time so, as an art director, most work was done on drawing tables with T-squares and magic markers. There was no social media so the main media for advertising back then was newspaper, magazine, billboard, radio and television. I enjoyed the work. It was challenging and rewarding, very fast-paced. Back then, there was a little bit of glamor to the industry. And it was a very good career choice because it gave me a great foundation for working as a photographer later.
It wasn’t until after the life-changing experience of discovering that I had cancer that I decided to change careers. I was diagnosed with a rare cancer in early 2004. And it was a very rough ride. More than once I was told that I had only a very slim chance of survival. After 6 months of chemo and surgery, I went into remission in late 2004. But it didn’t last long. By January of 2005, the cancer was back and yet again, I was told that my chances of going into remission were low. And my only option was a stem cell transplant. So…Continue reading our exclusive interview with David Wagner in HUF Magazine issue 39