Since before I could read, I was mesmerized by books. I would “read” them for hours. Once I learned how to write, I was creating books with cardboard covers and tape. And even though I grew up in Kansas, my love for writing and drawing the ocean started at a very young age.
I went on to study journalism at the University of Kansas (Rock Chalk!) and earned my PADI dive certification. After graduation, I moved to San Diego for a position as an art apprentice at SouthCoast STYLE magazine before moving to Los Angeles with big dreams of becoming a photographer and PADI Divemaster. I lived in a tiny studio in Venice Beach and paid my bills as a waitress working the graveyard shift. The best part: You could see the ocean from my window. (If you stood on a chair).
Before my next big move, I went home to Kansas City, where I had the opportunity to work as the studio manager for the award-winning photographer, Ron Berg. He taught me how to produce and style photoshoots, manage schedules, hire crew, and scout locations. And thanks to Ron, I was ready for my next adventure overseas.
That fall, I accepted a job as an underwater videographer in Grand Cayman, where I lived on PB&J and rode a bike to work. It was heaven. A year later, Hurricane Ivan had other plans as I watched my house, possessions, and job, disappear. So, I returned to the U.S. and mailed my video clips, the only items that survived the hurricane, to Sport Diver magazine, and said a prayer.
A month later, I got the call from the Ty Sawyer at Bonnier, and before I knew it, I was on my way to Florida as the Assistant Editor for Sport Diver magazine. It was the perfect place to harness my love for photography and writing with the ocean.
My decade-long career at Bonnier was a dream job. My team supported me as I worked my way around the corporate ladder as a writer, editor, producer, stylist, and beauty editor for brands that included Sport Diver, Scuba Diving, Destination Weddings & Honeymoons, and Spa magazines. They backed me up while I studied Digital Marketing at Full Sail University, and I even had my own “Ask Tara” column – silly caricature and all. I loved every minute of it. I had officially tapped into my inner Carrie Bradshaw.
Since then, Florida has been my home. Today, I’ve ditched the 9-5 lifestyle to follow my passion for writing and creating as a freelancer. I’ve had the pleasure of working with a variety of brands that include PADI, Organic Spa, AFAR, ROVA, and Orlando Magazines.
And I still get lost in children’s books. But now, I’m writing and illustrating them myself. With the hopes that one day, they will open a door for kids to fall in love with the ocean the same way my books did for me.