on top of the world

Oct 31st was A Big Day for me. Today, after nearly 12 years here in America, I finally became a citizen of the USA.

To encapsulate how I felt at that moment, I asked my wife, Sara, to take a celebratory photograph of me near the top of the red steps in Times Square this evening. I really do feel on top of the world.

Instead of the usual photography related post here, I’d like to indulge myself a little and revel in this moment.

It’s been a long journey – at times arduous, often exhilarating, but mostly just a constant working towards a specific goal – creating a life here in the USA that would offer (specifically) my daughter a better future here than might be possible in South Africa.

We emigrated at the start of 2000, on my wife’s H1B1 visa. I was a stay-at-home dad for nearly 3 years since I didn’t have a work permit. When I finally received my work permit, I started working for one of the studios here in New Jersey as a 2nd shooter. (This was somewhere towards the end of 2002.) I continued shooting for numerous studios for a few years, and eventually set off with my own business as a photographer around September 2006.

I worked as a Television Broadcast Engineering Tech back in South Africa. However, with an over-riding interest in photography (and music), I had already started a career there as a part-time photographer. So when I finally had the glimpse in 2002 of the possibilities here in the USA, I was hooked on the idea of making photography my full-time career.

The emigration process crippled us financially at the time. It was hugely expensive to move to another country. Starting from scratch was hard work, and meant long hours. The upheaval around the 9/11 terrorist attacks also had a near-catastrophic impact on our plans to live in the USA, since the company that my wife worked for at the time, was one of the many companies that folded in the aftermath of 9/11. (It’s a complicated story involving the work permit system.)

My wife, Sara, is still working in the tech industry, doing very well in her career. Similarly, my daughter is doing exceptionally well at school. She is now in her final year in high-school, and has been in an advanced curriculum for gifted and talented kids since elementary school. On top of that, she is also involved in a bunch of extra-mural activities. All of this adds up to be real vindication of our decision to uproot ourselves 12 years ago, and move to another country.

Even with some of the success I’ve had as a photographer in just a few short years – such as the two published books – I also know that any achievement or success are just small milestones in a much longer arc. An arc that involves a lot of work and constant chipping away at it. But right now, I feel good. I completed my citizenship test, and took the Oath of Allegiance to the USA. I’m here to stay, and I really look forward to the journey ahead.

And with that, I also want to say thank you to everyone who follows and supports this website, and has helped me over the past few years, making this site what it is. There’s more to come.

[ edited to add on Oct 3, 2011 ]

I anticipated a few replies to this post, but nothing like this flood of support! I am amazed and flattered and humbled. Thank you for all the lovely comments and congratulations and well-wishes. It really really is inspiring!

To appease the techies who follow the Tangents blog – the photo at the top was taken with the Nikon D3 and Nikon 85mm f1.4 AF-S lens. Camera settings: 1/1250 @ f1.4 @ 1600 ISO … all available light as exists in Times Square on any given night.

201 Comments, Add Your Own

  1. 1Matthieu says

    Congradulations to U Neil….wish u could realize all your dreams in USA…

    ps: i’m regular follower of your blog and living in Réunion Island (FRANCE)…
    even in Indian Ocean, your art is most appreciated…Thank YOU SO

  2. 2Alex says

    Hi Neil

    Let me be the first one to congratulate you.
    ! ! CONGRATULATIONS ! !

    Regards
    Alex

    PS: I love this web-site: I am reading it since a few months and my photography thinking has changed considerably.

  3. 4Julien F says

    Congrats…

    I’ve been watching you’re website for 2 years. You are inspiring me every time i see new pictures.

    My life has changed since i follow your advices in strobist techniques.

    Regards.

    Julien from a little place in France

  4. 5 says

    Hi Neil

    Congratulations on achieving on achieving your goal, the extra security must be a real boon. Thank you for this brilliant blog which I’ve been silently following for years now :)

    Matt

  5. 6Bill Dougherty says

    Congratulations and welcome, sir.
    I’ve been a fan of your articles, purchaser of your books. I truly appreciate your contributions to my photographic skills and to many in the industry. You’ve proven your worth as a skilled master of photography in many aspects.
    Thank you and again Congratulations.

  6. 7Erwin says

    Congratulations Neil!
    Good to hear that things are going well for you and your family and hope to see many more great photo’s and articles on your website in the future!

  7. 9James says

    Congratulations Neil.

    I too became a naturalized U.S. citizen 16 years ago so I fully understand the difficulties involved. And its certainly even more rigorous now.

    Best regards,

    James

  8. 13Marty Pender says

    Congratulations to you and your family. I love it when we get a great American and I’m proud for you and your family also. May God contiune to bless us all.

  9. 15Jennifer Lynch says

    Not much better you can do for your child than instill in her a love of learning and show her how hard work and perseverance leads to success. Way to go!

  10. 17Jim Rector says

    Congratulations Neil! Great story. The country is a better place with your family a part of it. I know my photography has improved because of you.

  11. 19Bob Rossi says

    Neil,

    Congratulations to you and your family. You are living the dream and making it. Thank you for sharing your time and knowledge. You have significantly changed my flash photography for the better.

    Thank you,
    Robert

  12. 23 says

    As a fellow expat (green card currently) – congratulations! I know how much work, expense and stress is involved when working with USCIS – getting here is no small job!

  13. 24Mike says

    Congratulations, Neil!!!

    Have been following your blog and learning a lot from you for a year or so. Thanks for all the information you provide.

    You are booked to photograph my sister’s wedding in May and I’m looking forward to congratulating you in person (as well as watching over your shoulder! Just kidding!) :)

    Mike

  14. 26Jeff says

    Congratulations Neil! I appreciate the dedication and hard work you have put into photography and the blog. I personally have benefited from your teachings by eagerly put them to use on my infant twins and having the results come out great.

    Thanks and Congratulations!

    Jeff

  15. 27Jennifer Lynch says

    Love the photo Neil, but here’s a question. Are the red stairs throwing a red cast up into your face?

  16. 30Ted says

    Congratulations you deserve it! I have been a follower of yours for several years. I have both of your books and also attended one of your seminars. I would attend another one if it come to a city close to were I live. Congratulation again and thank you.

  17. 31Ups says

    Congratulations! I have been in U.S.A for 18 year and haven’t had my citizen ship yet. I blame it on my laziness. Anyway, I’m happy for you if it is what you want. Big smily face for you :). I want to ask you questions photography related but I don’t want to spoil the moment. Until next time.

  18. 32Brian Li says

    Congratulations, Neil! You are a great teacher and your work has been extremely inspirational!

    Best wishes to you and your family!

  19. 33Ups says

    Additionally to my post earlier, you look exceptionally handsome in the above picture. Complement to the photographer.

  20. 34 says

    Neil,
    Wow, I had no idea the hardships you endured to emigrate here. It’s good to know that your wife was able to find work at another company to re-instate the work permit. Your wife was pivotal in laying the foundation for the first few years to give you time to submit credentials and wait for the responses for your work permit. You have traveled a long journey.

    In your photo above, you look like you are attending a Hollywood movie premier. This is fitting since it is the premier of your citizenship!

  21. 35Christal says

    Neil,

    Congratulations! Your story is an inspiring one! Thank you so much for the blog and all the information you freely give to aspiring photographers.

  22. 40Melanie says

    Congrats Neil – you are inspiration in many ways. Thanks for your hard work and willingness to share your craft and determination with all of us. I always look forward to what you have to say, teach, and show us.

  23. 45 says

    Congratulations, Neil! And thank you for sharing your story – it is very, very inspiring for a newbie in the country like me. You definitely deserve all the success coming your way. And thank you for your sharing your in-depth knowledge through your wonderful books and website! God bless you and your family! :-)

  24. 46Missy says

    Congratulations Neil – tip of the hat to you for following the process of citizenship, from what I understand, it is not easy.

    Here you are, an American. Best of luck to you and your family.
    -Missy

  25. 48 says

    Congratulations!!! Been there, done that (the path to Naturalization). It is difficult to explain to someone who hasn’t had the chance to experience such a feeling. Also, thanks for sharing your story, it is inspiring, as is your photography and photography classes and books (which I enjoy). Again, congrats and more success ahead!

  26. 49Chris says

    Congrats Neil. I fully understand also being a dad back in South Africa but still proud of this wonderfull country on the southern tip of Africa.

  27. 53 says

    Neil,

    Congratulations and well done. Looking forward to reading the next chapter(s) you share with us tangent blog readers. Also congrat’s to your daughter, She obviously takes after her father.

    Bryan

  28. 54Trina Cheney says

    Congratulations Neil! I have been following your work/website for two or more years. Thanks for your hard work and dedication that has enabled me to become a better photographer… Blessings to you and your family. TEAR!!

  29. 55 says

    Congratulations. You work is always an inspiration. You have not only achieved success but also help followers like to be more succesfull in our photographic endevours. Goodluck to you and your family

  30. 56Fred Silver says

    Mazel Tov.
    The U.S.’s gain is Canada’s loss. But you can always visit.
    Thornhill, where I live, has a very large dynamic SA community and I number many of them as my friends.
    You and your loved ones should enjoy many years of good health and happiness as Americans.

    Fred

  31. 57Klaus says

    My best wishes to your, your wife, your daughter, to your complete happy family. May your guardian angel always protect you !

  32. 60Marino Aloysius says

    Neil…Congratulation to you and your family. I know what it is like to migrate to a new country and start from scratch. I have been following you more than a year now and can’t wait to come down to the States to take a lesson with you.

    Best regards

    Marino Aloysius
    Toronto, Canada

  33. 61 says

    Congratulations Neil. My father also immigrated to the US and after many years became an American Citizen, granting many rights and freedoms that were previously difficult to obtain. More than that, citizenship grants another layer of opportunity, as your experience shows.

    You do wonderful work, and I’m glad that this personal dream has been realized at long last. All the best.

  34. 62ay sam says

    I have been following your blog for the past one year. i learn a lot from your blog on photography . Thank you for such awonderful blog. Any way Congratulations Neil. Keep up the good job.

  35. 63Jerry says

    Congrats Neil! I’m happy that you chose to make the US home and that it means enough to you to want to naturalize. I’m also glad that the US has provided you the opportunities for your family and yourself to have the success you desire and so richly deserve.

    On a personal note, your website has continued to make me closer to the success that I want to be as a photographer.

    Thanks from a fellow American citizen,
    Jerry

  36. 64 says

    Neil, I happy for your and your family. It takes courage and vision to do what you’ve down, and you’ve done them all well! Salute, my friend!

  37. 65Bart says

    Congratulations. Having lived on 4 countries in the past 7 years I can certainly appreciate the difficulties associated with picking up everything you know and moving to a different continent!

  38. 66GH says

    Neil,

    I recently discovered your blog and have been pouring over the various articles with great interest. I would like to say thank you for sharing your knowledge and offer my congratulations to you. I wish you all the best and continued good fortune in pursuing your American dream.

    Regards,

    GH

  39. 67Gene says

    Congratulations Neil and best wishes to you and your family. South Africa’s loss is truly America’s gain and you still have influence around the world with your wonderful photgraphic talents and insights.
    I live in a great little country just north of you called Canada. Y’all should come up and see us some time.

  40. 70Danny Cahill says

    Congrats Neil you deserve it mate.Any country would be proud to have you and your family as new citizens.Enjoy your Arc mate and please keep on sharing.

  41. 71Russ says

    Neil, didn’t realise you were a saffa. Used to the cold Christmas yet? Should’ve come over to Kiwiland – you could’ve claimed to be in the country of the rugby World Champions now!!

  42. 72 says

    Hi Neil,

    I think the USA-people have embraced you and your family :-). Have fun and best wishes for your new future. May your dreams even more come true!

    P.s. Otherwise you can always come to the Netherlands, since the Dutch language can’t be too hard for you ;-)

    Best regards, Dick

  43. 73Dan Rode says

    Congratulations! It takes a lot of courage and hard work to set out for a new country and a new life. Glad to have you here as a permanent neighbor.

  44. 75 says

    Congrats, Neil to you and your family!

    I know it must have been extremely difficult and demanding, to say the least. I love and follow your blog religiously and have learned a great deal, and love your off-camera flash book, which I’ve recommended to numerous colleagues.

    Since my maiden name is “Van De Motter” I quickly took notice of your surname and took an interest in you and your website.

    Best wishes for a bright future, for both you and your family!….Jacquie Patrick

  45. 76Artur Ocubaro says

    Congratulations, Mr Neil! You are the Man! Someone from whom I ve been learning so much since I ve discovered this wonderful site! One of those persons who share so much just for sharing! Thank You for everything that You have been doing! You are my Guru, my Mentor, ever! You and your family just deserve only the best! Congratulations! Cheers! Uhaaaaaaaaaa!!

  46. 77Dave says

    Hey, congratulations Neil.

    I’ve really appreciated and benefited from all of the tremendously valuable information you’ve put out. I’ve helped a few people just starting out in photography, and I always point them your way (e.g. “go see that guy…he’s got some really great stuff”).

    As Obi-Wan would say, “You have done well.”

    Best of luck to you and the family.

  47. 78Fern Trujillo says

    Congrats to you and the Family Neil, a proud moment to be sure and a great Story.

    The true measure of a person is how many times they are able to get up after having been knocked down, it appears not only have you continually risen but what a rise!

    You give much back to others in your website/blogs/tangents and I personally thank you for it as I have learned much from you.

    May the Good Lord continue to watch over you and your family.

    Fern

  48. 79 says

    Congratulations, Neil. I’ve always admired those who chose and pursue the citizenship of this wonderful country. The act embodies so much of what I have always felt is closest to true patriotism (an admittedly over and ill-used word these days). Welcome. It is good to know you, even if only from across the internet.

    Brian

  49. 80LJL says

    As a naturalized US citizen myself let me say congratulations! All the hardwork and sacrifices endured were all worth it to know you are a citizen of the greatest country. To be able to give the opportunity to the children to make it on their own merit without stepping on others’ toes is very rewarding as a parent. Never forget though your ancestry, of the people from whom we learned the moral values and aspirations instilled within us. Now when you hear the national anthem of USA you’ll be proud to put your right hand on your chest and feel the satisfaction beating in your heart–WOW! Really! I just wish that all Americans have read and studied the citizenship reviewer and know what they have taken for granted and what this country was built and formed for. Congratulations again Mr.NVN, I salute you my fellow American!

  50. 81john battaglia says

    Neil,

    Congratulations on your citizenship and thank you for all help us become better photographers. You are an inspiration.

    John

  51. 82Thomas Byberg, BybergFoto says

    Congratulations! I’m really happy for you and your family. I really love your work and I also love the fact that you share your knowledge and experience with the rest of us who are trying to make it as a photographer.

    I have learned so much from your blog/tangents, and checking it daily for updates.

    Best wishes, and thank you!

    Thomas

  52. 84Benedyct Antifer says

    Congrats Neil and thanks a lot for all the goodness you put in your work, communication and sharing with people.

  53. 89Ven McAndrew says

    Congratulations Neil! I own a small architectural firm in Michigan and am currently working through the immigration process with a Romanian immigrant employee, who, one day, wishes to be a citizen … quite an arduous process. I love your blog and visit daily, have your books, and one day hope to attend one of your seminars. Keep up the good work and best of luck to you and your family!

  54. 92John says

    Congratulations! Just another example of how naturalized citizens are some of the hardest working and productive people in this country! Thank you for the work you’ve done and the education you’ve provided, as I can honestly say that your tutorials have taken me from someone who had no idea of what he was doing to someone capable of taking a great picture every now and then. Here’s to seeing more great things in the future!

  55. 93Tom Gola says

    Congratulation Neil. For those of us here whose ancestors took the path to the United States, it is often forgotten the struggles and hardships individuals such as you and your family undertook to live in this great country. Your story serves as a reminder how lucky we are to live here, and the importance of working hard to better ourselves and not take for granted the opportunities that await our labor. My best to you and your family.

  56. 95 says

    Hi Neil,
    Congratulations! All the best for the future for you and yours.
    Our lives are somewhat parallel – I’m from Zimbabwe and migrated to Australia in 1990 (bit longer than you). I also have a daughter who’s gifted academically and incidentally also has an interest in photography (see website). (I also have 3 sons – 2 of whom have SLRs). I’m also a musician – having been a worship leader in the local Baptist church for many years and also participated in numerous musical projects in that time.
    Thanks for all the advice on your site which I have put to good use as a budding photographer – as can be seen on my recently assembled site.
    Best wishes,
    Tim New.

  57. 96Jeff says

    Congratulations Neil! Yours is a great story about making the most of the opportunities in our country. Praying for continued blessings for you and your family!

  58. 97Janafiq says

    Congratulations! Neil and your family. I have learn a lot from your blog since I start digital photography.
    BTW Im from Malaysia may be one day you can visit our country and do some workshop.
    I also never give any comment before but today I just want to,
    Thank you for your sharing and again Congratulations.

  59. 99vaenka says

    Congrats Neil, Your story truly inspires. You are an excellent educator and wish you & your family all the best in the future. vaenka – Singapore

  60. 101Debbie Kolasa says

    Congratulations Neil! May your journey continue to be healthy and prosperous and may all of your dreams come true. Thanks for the educational experience that you provide on your blog. I really appreciate the time and effort that you invest in sharing your knowledge and experience with the photography community. Congratulations again and best wishes for a future in the USA filled with love, peace and happiness.

  61. 104Stefaan says

    Hi Neil,
    Congratulations. I know what it is to emigrate. We changed Belgium for South Africa in 1995.
    Regards and thanks for the wonderful advise and tips you share with us.

  62. 107 says

    Hi Neil,

    Congratulations from The Netherlands!

    I visit your blog almost on a daily basis and I learned so much from it. Thank you for sharing, good luck to you and your family.

    Annelies

  63. 108fotografii aniversari says

    I’m very happy for you and for your family! I think you really deserve it and we’ll always be with you, as you did until now. There aren’t enough words to express my joy for you and the respect that I have.
    Congratulations! Sky is the limit!

  64. 109 says

    Hi Neil

    Congratulations!

    It is great to see the face behind the brilliant advice! I’d wondered if you had SA roots (surname). I left SA for the UK in 2001 and have also found the move to be challenging, but so rewarding, and it is very encouraging to hear your story, so thank you for sharing.

    Jane

  65. 110Basuki Prayitno says

    Congratulation from Jakarta, Indonesia. I visit your blog almost on a daily basis and I learned so much from it. Once again congratulations!. You deserve it. Regards.

  66. 112Ruben says

    I was always wondering if you had Dutch roots (your lastname is VERY Dutch), never knew you were South African :)

    Congratulations with all you and your family have achieved!
    Do keep up the good work!

  67. 113Ian Scrimgeour says

    May I offer my congratulations Neil, I would also like to take this opportunity to offer my thanks for your tangents blog and your two books, which have helped my photography endlessly.

  68. 115Anthony Romano says

    Hi Neil….Congratulations are in order….My wife is from Argentina. Years ago she did the same and I know how proud she felt becoming an American citizen…I can tell you feel the same way!

    Having been to two of your workshops and a seminar….I can honestly say that you have and continue to do this country proud of what you do and give back to all of us! You truly go above and beyond the “call of duty” as we say….

    Again Congratulations man…..Anthony

  69. 117Nelson Yeong says

    My heartfelt congratulations to you & your family, Neil! (“v”)

    Your excellent sharing in photography has helped me tremendously over these years.

  70. 120 says

    Hello Neil

    I am really very happy for you, congrats!

    I’ve been following your blog for a good 3 years now and also read both your books. Your contribution and guidance is well known and appreciated in Turkey!

    Cheers

  71. 121Lynda Kuit says

    Congrats Neil & baie geluk!!

    Having emigrated to Canada from South Africa in 1996, I know the sacrifices one makes when leaving a country and starting from scratch in another and all the hard work that goes into rebuilding one’s life. But its all been worth it and you can rightfully feel very proud of all you have achieved in such a short time.

    Mooi bly!

  72. 122 says

    Congratulations Neil and thank you so very much for sharing your abounding knowledge of photography with the rest of us! You have had quite an impact on my photography! I find it difficult to come up with enough good things to say about your blog.

  73. 123Don says

    Neil you so freely give away your knowledge here for all to have. You are a real asset to the USA. Sometime I forget how lucky I am that my grandparents followed a similar path as yours during the “great depression”.

    Thank you for helping people like me to better “see” what we photograph. Congratulations to you and may you have MANY more years of life and fun!

  74. 124Janous says

    CONGRATULATIONS!!! People like you are what America needs. People with a goal in life that are not afraid of the hard work it takes to achieve that goal. Great story!

  75. 125 says

    Wow – congratulations Neil, that’s great.

    As legal immigrants ourselves, I have seen my family also start from scratch. You really appreciate more everything you have – we certainly don’t take anything for granted.

    Best wishes to you and on your continued success – let’s hope there is still lot’s more for you to conquer, we will be cheering you on :)

    Susie

  76. 126Darren says

    Congrats Neil, your website has been an inspiration and a great source of information.

    Best wishes from Scotland.

  77. 127Dany says

    Neil, like all the others,
    I understand your joy and know how it is to start all again in a new country.
    Congratulation !!
    I am a follower of your blog for long time, and already bought two of you books that are real help for getting better !!
    wish you all the best in the US !!

    From Paris / France !!

  78. 129harold c says

    Congratulations!!! To you and your family.

    I can’t just imagine how elated you would be. We also immingrated here from the Philippines and still are waiting for our green card since 2007. Hopefully we’ll get it soon and proceed with the process for citizenship.

    again, Congratulations!!!

  79. 130Steve Garner says

    Many Congrats.

    I feel your pain about making such a big step having done it myself, although I had a job to go straight into there is always the constant feeling of needing to justify such a move.

    Best wishes from Brisbane, Australia

  80. 131Elio Hernandez says

    Congratulations for being here, staying with us and more important, sharing your knowledge!!!!!!!!!!!

  81. 133Tommy says

    Congrats on your amazing accomplishment and thanks for sharing your inspiring story! I’m proud of you! And thanks for your insights and direction on all things photo.

    Thanks from Sunny Pensacola,
    Tommy

  82. 134Ronald DSouza says

    Congratulations, Neil. I am an ardent follower of your tangents. Being an Engineering tech like yourself, I have admired the way you explain technical aspects of photography.

    Wish you a successful career ahead!

    Ronald
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada

  83. 136Janet says

    Congratulations! As a native born American, it’s always inspiring to me to hear the stories from people who have made a choice to take up citizenship here.

    I’ve appreciated your blog and books. There’s so much to learn, but your explanations are encouraging and enlightening.

  84. 138Melanie says

    That is wonderful news! Our country is lucky to have a talent like yours. Thank you for all that you are contributing to the photography world. You are truly “giving back” to your profession by encouraging other to develop their own skills.

  85. 140Jason says

    We’re glad to have you! Officially! Your story and hard work are an inspiration to me and probably everyone else who frequents your site. Thanks so much for your will to share your knowledge and experiences. Your website is part of my daily hitlist and an invaluable source of information.

    Again thanks and congratulations!

    Jason

  86. 141Ayla says

    Congratulations Neil! What an endearing post from a proud man, father, husband, photographer and now U.S. citizen. You truly are a remarkable and admirable person. Thank you for sharing your artistic gifts and wonderful news. Best wishes to you and your family in this success and the many others to come. P.s. Fantastic portrait! It says it all :)

  87. 142 says

    Welcome, welcome, welcome to the USA. You make flash photography look easy and we appreciate you sharing your skills with all of us struggling photographers around the word. Thank you for your willingness to share which is an important ideal that you help to instruct others about. For me photography is a hobby that I can use to share with others and your work has improved my photography immensely. Thanks a million and many good wishes for you and your family in this great country.

  88. 143Glenn Davis says

    Congratulations to you neil. I too, migrated to the great USA back in 1992 and have since then obtained my citizenship. I know what you felt and I am happy for you. I follow your blog off and on and find it so inspirational and educational. Thank you for all you do.

  89. 144Darran says

    Congratulations Neil, I’m pleased things are working out for you. Your tuition, tips and good advice have been a god send for me and I can’t thank you enough.
    Cheers!!!

  90. 145Nebraska Guy says

    Hey now – America just got a little better! Thanks for giving us a glimpse at one of the milestones of your life. I’m always grateful for what you share here in Tangents.

  91. 146 says

    Congratulations Neil!!!! Having lived in this great country all my 64+ years I may have taken it for granted lots of times. But, seeing the decision you made to uproot your family from your home country for a better life in the USA really made me realize what a great life our family has had here for several generations. Welcome, my brother, and I wish you and your family the best this great country has to offer. Since finding your site three to four years ago, I have learned so much from you and your teachings. I am the proud owner of both of your books! Maybe one day I will have the opportunity to meet you. Until then, God bless you, your family and May God Bless America!!!!!
    Larry Holloway

  92. 148Aris Grigoriou says

    Congratulations Neil!
    I’ve been studying your site for over 2 years. You are an inspiration to me every time I make new images. My life has changed since I have followed your advice and have read your two books.
    You are for me the best and the coolest … Photographer in the world! Stay as you are and go on with Neil vN-Tangents. They are really amazing!
    I wish you more success and everything good for you and your family!
    Aris

  93. 150Radu says

    Congratulations!

    And thank you for sharing – both your photographic knowledge and stories about you and your family!
    I’m following your blog for the past year or so but never commented before; I considered this a good time to start.

    Regards from Bucharest, Romania!

    PS: very good picture!

  94. 151Jamie Welsh says

    The most honest, humble, exciting, uplifting, inspirational, dedicated, giving, piece of writing i have had the honour of veiwing for a long time Congratulations to you and yours.
    All of those words mirror the work you let us share with you everday on Planet Neil/Tangents some of us go back a long way with you and are all the better for it
    Thanks Neil you deserve it Shame you did not make Scotland your new home :-))

  95. 152David D. Nelson says

    Congratulations, Neil! Having lived in several different countries while growing up I have a small understanding of what it is like to up and move across the globe but I was reminded again of why I’m fortunate to be an American and that persistence and hard work toward a worthwhile goal is very rewarding. Thank you for helping make the USA a better place and I wish you and your family the best in all your endeavors.

    Thank you for all the giving you do on your blog. I have learned an incredible amount about photography and my armature photographs have improved immensely because of your help.

  96. 157Marcel says

    Geluk met jou VSA burgerskap. Ek wens jou en jou familie baie vreugde en geluk toe in die VSA. Baie dankie vir hierdie web bladsy met al sy wonderlike informasie.

  97. 160Scott Shah says

    Congratulations from the bottom of my heart. Today my pictures are little better because of you. Lots of your followers like me thank for your generosity in sharing your knowledge. My family wishes you the best of the best in life.

    Finally this is best country in the world and proud to be an American.

  98. 161Baixas christophe says

    Sincères félicitations pour cette intégration réussie aux USA et ce nouveau départ professionnel. Les états unis peuvent se féliciter de compter parmi eux un professionnel de cette qualité.
    Vous avez gagné estime et reconnaissance dans la communauté des photographes bien au delà de l’Amérique et cela est amplement mérité.

    Votre contribution généreuse sur ce site témoigne de votre volonté de partager vos connaissances et de développer les compétences des photographes amateurs.
    Merci à vous pour tout ce que vous nous apprenez !
    Les plus belles pages de votre carrière restent encore à écrire.

    Meilleurs voeux de succès !

    Christophe (Toulon – France)

  99. 162Martin says

    Neil
    i am so glad that it has worked out for you and your family, i visit your site regularly and like many others i am inspired by your work and teachings on off camera flash.

  100. 163Rainier says

    Congratulations, Neil! Your story is inspiring, and I wish you and your family all the best in your newly-adopted home!

  101. 165Janna Jennings says

    Congratulations on your citizenship and your success in photography! I love your work and am grateful for your willingness to show me and others how you do it.

  102. 166Mike says

    Congratulations Neil. I’m so happy for you and your family and also for all your hard work in sharing your knowledge with us. Thanks for everything.

  103. 167Heather Simmons says

    More than Congratulations are in order for such an awesome accomplishment! Thank you for the knowledge you freely share with all of the photography community. I remember when you visited my studio up in Washington state a few years ago to conduct a workshop (Etched In Time Photography); the techniques you taught changed the way I photograph!
    I am happy for you and your family!!!

  104. 169Zoë says

    Congratulations!! America has given to you exactly everything you have given it. It’s the land of great dreams. But you have to be brave enough to take the risk and make them come true. You did that, Neil! I recall what it felt like when the U.S. Consular General told me that my application for American citizenship had been approved. (I have an American parent, so it was a lot easier for me). It’s not something everyone gets to experience and is very emotional. I’m proud of being born and raised in Canada, where I now live again. But, it’s also wonderful to know that should I want to move back, I have that option.

  105. 170 says

    Neil,

    Congratulations. I am proud that you would want to join us considering how many people in the world condemn America.

    I am currently reading your book On-Camera Flash Techniques for Digital Wedding and Portrait Photography. I am becoming a better photographer because of you.

    Thank you.

    Ted King III

  106. 171Cov says

    Much congratulations! Honored to have you as a fellow citizen! There is no one who deserves it more. Thanks so much for you, your blog and your awesomeness!

  107. 173forkboy1965 says

    As they say… better late than never.

    Congratulations! In a time when it often appears the American Dream is on the ropes, it is reassuring to read such a story.

    ~Mark

  108. 174mahmud says

    Congratulations Neil. I’m so happy for you and your family and also for all your hard work in sharing your knowledge with us, i am sorry for late comment.
    texas

  109. 175Allen says

    Congratulations to you and yours from England.

    I’ve been plodding along with my photography since the late 1970’s. But you single-handedly rekindled my appetite for learning. Thank you.

  110. 176Lanthus says

    Hi Niel!
    Congrats, maar jy lyk nog soos n Suid Afrikaner! ;-)
    I am off to Sweden in January for the same reasons and am also anticipating a difficult time ahead as it is going to cost an arm and a leg! But it will be worth it in the long run.
    Thanks also for your very inspiring blog, I get here as often as I can!
    Regards
    Lanthus
    (The Photophile)

  111. 177 says

    congrats Neil!! I’m a resident alien too and as soon as I’ll find the time I will apply for citizenship myself!! :) i still remember when I got my green card, heck even the driver license…that very day on my way back after taking the test, while driving home, the radio was playing that song…”I’m proud to be an American” ….Keep up the great work and congrats once again!

  112. 178Prabhu Ambrose says

    For all that you’ve gone through, you’ve been awarded the best in life. All the best Neil. May the good God bless you and your family forever.

    Regards
    Prabhu

  113. 180 says

    Wow. What a wonderful feeling you must feel. My parents (before I was born) came from Europe (Hungary & Germany), I know they struggled to get to the US and then to survive (only by the fortune of distant relatives taking them in).
    Your post put a smile on my face, congratulations. -Kim

  114. 181Jim Curione says

    Congratulations to you.

    I wish people born in the US knew a fraction of what a new citizen knows about our country.
    I am jealous at the joy you must feel still.

    Regards,

    Jim

  115. 182Guy Perkins says

    Hi Neil, I took a workshop with you in Phoenix, Az. Good teaching and you deserve to be here in the US. You’re a good person and it was a delight to attend your workshop. Keep up the great work (website)
    guy

  116. 183Paul Moshay says

    Congratulations Neil, You have worked hard to get to where you are and you deserve it, and more. You are a decided advantage for the USA, your dedication to the art of photography and your decision to share your knowledge with others is admirable!
    Continued success, Paul

  117. 184Clyde Ramstead says

    The Lord is good and Neil, your story is just more evidence of that fact. Thank you for sharing this wonderful accomplishment with all of us. I have one of your books so far and it has made me a better flash photographer. Most of my photography is volunteer Fire/Rescue and Tea Party documentation. I look forward to your “Tangents” newsletter as it has helped keep my spirits up during the first 11 months of recovery from a very serious spinal surgery. All I can carry and shoot with now and for several more months is my little Canon G9 with a 580EXII to help light the way forward. Thank you for keeping me on your mailing list.

    God Bless you,

    Clyde and Linda Ramstead

  118. 185Russell Roberts says

    ..Congratulations Neil …have been in Wales the last month so missed your initial post …good luck and all the best for the future …keep up your great work and informative sharing ….Regards Russell ..JHB …RSA

  119. 189 says

    Neil,

    Congratulations on your citizenship. Your story is one of inspiration and I am humbled by you and your families courage and determination to make a good life here. I also want to tell you that your gift as a photographer and your unselfish desire to share your talent with the world has helped me tremendously. Thank you.

    Cheers,

    Mark

  120. 193Chris Goulet says

    Hey Neil!

    As many others have said, congratulations on your citizenship! You are so welcome here. It is wonderful to have you with us. You have already contributed SO MUCH to the world as a photographer and teacher…to claim you as one of our own is icing on the cake.

    Best wishes to you and yours for continued good luck in your new home. You are such a positive example to ALL of us. Thanks for sharing the story of your journey with us…you continue to inspire and humble us with your skills, not only in photography, but as a successful human. Your wife and daughter are lucky, as are we, to know you.

    Looking forward to your Moon walk…

    (g

  121. 194 says

    Congratulations Neil! What an accomplishment, so proud of you. Love reading this very personal post as well, made me feel like I got to know a bit more about you as a person. Keep up the great work.

  122. 195mickey house says

    CONGRATULATIONS NEIL !!!!!!!!!!!!!! I know you are very proud of this accomplishment and I am proud for you. I could not begin to relate to what you have had to do to get where you are today, we appreciate you sharing it with us. mickey

  123. 197Ador Pamintuan says

    CONGRATULATIONS, NEIL!!! VERY HAPPY FOR YOU. Your perseverance worked well. I am an avid fan of yours and I wish you all the best!

  124. 199J.T. Haney says

    Mr. van Niekerk, A most sincere congratulations on the celebration of your American Citizenship!! And a deeply heartfelt “Thank You” for sharing with us all from your deep well of knowledge!!

  125. 200Rob Henry says

    It is the paople who make this nation what it is and we are proud to have you, Neil, as a strong and positive contribution to our society and industry. I would like to think I am a better photographer because of you and this website and I cannot thank you enough. Welcome home!

    Rob

  126. 201Kerry says

    Neil, I’ve only recently discovered your site, and I am so impressed by how much you’ve given of your time and knowledge. Countless people you’ll never meet have had their lives and skills improved by your generosity with this site.

    God Bless you and your family. Our nation is enriched by you all being here! Welcome! I hope you enjoy tremendous opportunities, challenges, and rewards!

    -Kerry

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