Photographer Steven Rosenfield spoke to students Tuesday about his path towards founding the What I Be project, an online collection of photographs aimed at promoting mental health awareness. “I was making really good money, I was on the path to become successful, but I realized I wasn’t happy,” he said about his work 18 years ago. “I was very materialistic and opinionated, and I didn’t think what people said mattered. I was right, they were wrong.”
In the lecture, Rosenfield described quitting his job with a computer company to embark on a four year rock climbing trip before settling in Davis, California, where he discovered photography as an “ego check.” During these years, Rosenfield said he adopted an “opposite” outlook of “less judgement,” which later inspired his photography project. After photographing folk-rock band Spearhead and Franti concerts, Rosenfield said he began shooting other musicians, but he soon decided he wanted to make photography more relevant to his personal experiences.