Hello. I’m Jake, the photographer behind Friends First.

How am I funny?

I was born and raised in West Orange, New Jersey – aka Tony Soprano’s stomping grounds. And just like the Sopranos, everyone I knew as a kid seemed to be a character, so I grew to love outgoing and expressive people.

Mom having a smoking selfie moment in the 70s
My mom Judy was into film photography, fashion illustration and oil panting.

What my momma gave me.

My mom was an artist. She painted a lot. Sundays were spent in New York, checking out museums, art galleries and great restaurants. I didn’t know it then, but I absorbed her love of artistic expression. I am who I am because of who she was and how she raised me.

The dark side of my childhood.

My dad was loving but also abusive. After years of therapy, I’m at peace with the damage he caused. And now I’m using photography as a creative platform for preventing domestic violence.

I cherish the happy moments we had as a family.
I cherish the happy moments we had as a family.
I love you mom!
Happy mother's day mom!

Finding my thing.

My journey to becoming a professional photographer has been strange, wonderful and humbling. I have an obsessive personality which is both a blessing and a curse. Through years of exploration and hard work, I have figured out what I want to accomplish as an artist and how I’m going to do it. And I’ve formulated my own distinctive visual style.

I can’t stop grappling.

I’ve been doing Jiu-Jitsu 5x a week for the past 8 years and I’m not stopping anytime soon. I love how absurdly difficult it is and how utterly exhausted I am after training. The guys I roll with call me ‘Old Man Jiu Jitsu’, which I find amusing. Then I tap them out.

My baby Lou. Isn't he pretty?

My best friend.

When I get home at night and wake up each morning my rescue dog Louie is there to greet me. He constantly reminds me what it means to be a loving, loyal and gentle friend.

Love is everything.

I’m happy to say that I made peace with my dad before he passed away.

Me and dad sailing
Forgiveness (c) 2010