• Screaming at the Top of Our Lungs


    Every summer, my parents would scrounge together enough cash to purchase Six Flags season passes for my brother, sister, and me and essentially tell us to knock ourselves out. Six Flags was basically the best amusement park in America. As I grew taller over the years, eventually no roller coaster was off limits. I rode them all...again and again and again—my brother and sister always in the seats next to me. I loved it. One, in particular, blasted you straight up into the sky, higher than any other attraction. It was like flying...the wind in your face, in between your outstretched fingertips, soaring to such great heights. As if to say, "Gravity, stay the hell away from me..."

    I never forgot that feeling.

    As most of you know, I've been making my living with my camera for the past five years. I realize how fortunate I am—doing something I love and actually making a career of it. Only a small percentage of people get to do that. I've been on the other side—I've put 10,000 hours into something I felt nothing for (nobody says, "I want to be a banker when I grow up"). So don't think for one second a day goes by without me thanking God each morning I get to continue doing what I do.

    Life is like that amusement park I grew up going to every summer. There is always a bigger, faster, steeper roller coaster to ride...but there is no height requirement, only a "dream" requirement. Some kids grew up dreaming of becoming doctors, professional athletes, engineers. Spoiler alert: I wanted to design clothes. Next month, I'm hopping on a bigger roller coaster. Only, this roller coaster isn't at Six Flags—it's in New York. I recently accepted a position within Ralph Lauren. And if I'm being completely honest, it still feels like a childhood dream I haven't awoken from.

    "…no one—not rock stars, not professional athletes, not software billionaires, and not even geniuses — ever makes it alone.

    —Malcom Gladwell

    I came across this quote while reading Outliers, a book by Malcom Gladwell on the story of success, and it made me pause. We cling to the idea that success is a simple function of individual merit and that the world in which we all grow up and the opportunities we're afforded don't matter at all. It does matter. It takes a village. Every one of you in my world matter...the loving family, the dear friends, the fraternity brothers, the prodding professors, the loyal clients, the brilliant colleagues, the serendipitous meetings, the religious readers of Unabashedly Prep...and even those who seek to cut me down—you all helped me reach this point. This wasn't happening without you. At some point or another, you've each been in the seat next to me...hands in the air, screaming at the top of your lungs.

    Thank you for your support, your belief, your friendship, your wisdom, your rebuke, your love, your couch. From the bottom of my gravity-defying heart, thank you. Here's to the next great roller coaster...

    Mar 28, 2012 | Permalink (55) Total Comments

    katherine robertson left a comment on 5/19/2012 at 5:11 PM:

    Hi Fred,
    I just read your blog as i have not checked in for a while, and am so happy to see your dream come true, and the chance of a lifetime to work for Ralph Lauren. They should be so pleased and fortunate to have you!
    I have watched you grow as a photographer since i switched to digital in 05 and then on to pursue your dream of ‘PREP’ and always loved your shooting style. I remember when you first started going to CA and hiring models to shoot a magazine spread and have watched you grow from there to now have this blog and a job at RL! We miss you here in Dallas but I wish you all the best in your new adventure. You certainly have worked hard to get where you are and I applaud you! Katherine Hershey Robertson

    Ed F. Hunter left a comment on 5/1/2012 at 9:20 AM:

    Well done Mr Castleberry!
    What a flippin’ incredibly awesome job to have! I’ve only been following the blog for a year or two but your work deserves the credit it gets so it’s great to hear you’ve secured a position at RL!
    It’s very much like the others have said, you fit the job like a well tailored suit!

    Joey Dee left a comment on 4/25/2012 at 2:16 AM:

    Congratulations to you and thatnks for your continual inspiration to us all!

    jordan w left a comment on 4/13/2012 at 5:26 PM:

    Congrats Fred- you deserve it baby- now you make sure Ralph opens up at least one shirt factory in the US okay?

    Dave T left a comment on 4/13/2012 at 4:34 PM:

    Congratulations and the best luck in your new position.

    Marguerite H. left a comment on 4/12/2012 at 9:27 AM:


    As one of your aforementioned ‘religious’ readers of UP and an aspiring photojournalist, I could not be happier for you. Now in my junior year of university and attempting to find/create/achieve a career of my own that ISN’T in biotechnology as my family would desire, you are an absolute inspiration. There is no better feeling in the world than getting to do exactly what you love, and anyone who is passionate about what they do can relate to that. I wish you years of that feeling, and am looking forward to see the places you will go.

    Tom left a comment on 4/11/2012 at 8:29 AM:


    Congrats. What are you actually doing at Rugby?

    RCN left a comment on 4/10/2012 at 9:29 PM:

    Hey Fred, we met in ATL at SCAD, we spoke after your session, I had the navy blue saddles… Probably dont remember but me but no worries…Anyway just wanted to say congrats! What a dream come true on your new roller coaster! Best Wishes

    Raya left a comment on 4/10/2012 at 12:10 AM:

    Extremely happy for you Fred! Best wishes in New York. xo Raya

    F.E. Castleberry left a comment on 4/9/2012 at 11:17 PM:

    @Mark & John—While I was certainly qualified to pursue investment banking after obtaining my degree in finance, I chose to enter the retail side given my decision to stick around Texas for a little while.

    Arnim left a comment on 4/9/2012 at 9:58 PM:

    Btw, I would be eternally grateful if you could convince RL that they should cater to the needs of us long-armed folks.  Specifically, I will buy all the Medium-Long rugby shirts you can sell me :)

    Mark left a comment on 4/9/2012 at 6:26 PM:

    @Jabari A retail banker working in investments and an investment banker are two entirely different fields.

    Mark left a comment on 4/9/2012 at 6:24 PM:

    From what I understand Fred worked as a retail banker for BOA.

    John left a comment on 4/9/2012 at 6:08 PM:

    @FEC, ...as an investment banker? If I’m not mistaken, BoA didn’t have an investment banking business of any consequence pre-2008…

    F.E. Castleberry left a comment on 4/9/2012 at 5:32 PM:

    @John—I worked for Bank of America…in another life.

    Val left a comment on 4/9/2012 at 4:52 PM:

    Congratulations! Sounds like a wonderfully creative gig!

    John left a comment on 4/9/2012 at 4:17 PM:


    You were an investment banker? What bank/firm?

    Max left a comment on 4/9/2012 at 3:54 PM:

    Of which fraternity are you a brother, Fred?

    Andrew left a comment on 4/9/2012 at 1:48 PM:

    Congratulations Fred! That’s fantastic news and you really deserve it. Thank you so much for your hard work, your wonderful website, and your dedication to being the best you can be; you’re truly an inspiration.

    Steph F left a comment on 4/9/2012 at 1:41 PM:

    Congrats! I love reading your blog everyday and I’m so glad for you!

    Jabari Blackmon left a comment on 4/9/2012 at 1:15 PM:

    Mr. Castleberry, you are truly an inspiration. I applaud you, not only for the wonderful opportunity but for your courage to walk away from I-Banking and pursue your dreams. I too want to be a designer and I have at times struggled with having the faith to believe a black kid from Ohio with a political resume and a future on Wall Street could one day muster the courage to follow that dream. I’m one of the numerous fans and followers out there who admire your skill, tenacity and commitment and you are truly an inspiration. God Bless you and your family.


    Adam left a comment on 4/9/2012 at 1:05 PM:

    Fantastic!!  Congratulations, Fred!  Don’t ever stop reaching for the next dream.

    Makaga left a comment on 4/9/2012 at 12:28 PM:

    Congrats!  Hope it’s a great ride!

    y l hollander left a comment on 4/9/2012 at 11:22 AM:

    I’ve been an admirer of Ralph Lauren since I was 12 years old (a span which I believe surpasses your entire time on this planet, seeing as how I just turned 44). At first it was the clothes, but as I matured (I refuse to acknowledge that I’ve “grown up”) I came to admire his personal style, his business sense and the various enterprises that said business sense has produced and sustained through countless fashion eras.

    Over the past couple of years I have become acquainted with and grown to admire the good work you have done to promote the same aesthetic that made me such a fan of RL that fistful of decades ago.

    To say that this is an ideal match as well as a near-guaranteed means of perpetuating the Lauren legacy for decades to come is a huge understatement.

    Congratulations to you and to RL.

    Andy M. left a comment on 4/9/2012 at 11:09 AM:

    Sincere congratulations Fred!  I’ve been a daily reader since stumbling across this site a few years ago and have looked forward to it every day.  I wish you all the best at RL.

    DJ Ren left a comment on 4/9/2012 at 9:19 AM:

    Sincerest Congratulations, FEC. Best of luck with the new position.

    Jay left a comment on 4/9/2012 at 8:59 AM:

    Congratulations! Your hard work has paid off! Ralph Lauren is my favorite designer.

    J.K. left a comment on 4/9/2012 at 7:29 AM:

    From someone who’s been quietly lurking on your blog for over a year now, congratulations!

    Alexander left a comment on 4/8/2012 at 10:24 PM:

    Congrats! It’s been great seeing this blog develop over the last year or two. I still remember the first day I stumbled across it and have been working to turn heads ever since.

    Don’t forget about us readers here at UP. On to bigger and better things!

    Tripp left a comment on 4/8/2012 at 6:56 PM:

    congratulations! That is absolutely amazing. i am looking forward to seeing all the new and fresh concepts that you are going to bring to the already shining brand of Ralph Lauren

    Mohamed Rafi left a comment on 4/8/2012 at 6:52 PM:

    Congratulations! Hope you ride this roller-coaster with the same joy and excitement you have had so far in your wonderful career. Good luck

    Arnim left a comment on 4/8/2012 at 5:16 PM:

    Well done, sir.  Congratulations earning the ticket to your new adventure.  I look forward to seeing what RL will create under your watchful eye.

    Vic Delta left a comment on 4/8/2012 at 1:11 PM:

    Hooboy. Grab the reins and let’er buck. Way to go caboy!

    Kelsey left a comment on 4/8/2012 at 11:25 AM:

    Congratulations! What an incredible opportunity! I can tell, as a frequent reader of your blog, that your articulate and creative nature will bring both you and the ever lucky Ralph Lauren to new heights as you begin your next adventure. Best wishes as you move forward!

    M. Hult left a comment on 4/8/2012 at 11:01 AM:

    Congratulations and best of luck to you!

    CPD left a comment on 4/8/2012 at 7:27 AM:

    Congratulations Fred! I hope this doesn’t mean the end of UP. Best of luck. I can’t wait to see what begins to come out of RL in a few seasons…

    And for the record, even bankers can be preps.

    Sergio left a comment on 4/8/2012 at 12:51 AM:

    Well done! Ralph Lauren is lucky to get you!
    Kudos from one of your readers in Latin America

    Scott left a comment on 4/7/2012 at 11:43 PM:

    Congrats - I’ve been following your blog for the past couple of years and have really enjoyed your inspirations.  Best of luck in the new position!

    Laguna Beach Fogey left a comment on 4/7/2012 at 10:56 PM:

    Congrats! I knew something like this was bound to happen.

    ‘(Nobody says, “I want to be a banker when I grow up”).’

    WTF?! I did! ;-)

    Georgie left a comment on 4/7/2012 at 10:47 PM:

    Congratulations! You really deserve this. I’ve been following Unabashedly Prep since my junior year in high school, and now I’m a freshman in college. I’ve never really been one to comment on your posts, but let me assure you a day didn’t go by where I didn’t check your blog. I’ve always hoped to run into you one day on the streets of Boston or New York. Your work is wonderful and I wish you the best in this next chapter of your life.

    Christina left a comment on 4/7/2012 at 9:27 PM:

    Congrats! I too hope you can still keep up with the blog!

    peter left a comment on 4/7/2012 at 8:24 PM:

    Follow the blog and never post.

    Congrats and good luck. Hard work pays off.

    DGB left a comment on 4/7/2012 at 8:13 PM:

    congrats man! keep up the blog if possible. . .

    Michael E. left a comment on 4/7/2012 at 8:05 PM:

    Best wishes!

    NJGlenn left a comment on 4/7/2012 at 5:13 PM:

    Congratulations Fred.  Wishing you all the best.  I hope that you find the time to continue the blog, it would be missed.

    MMG left a comment on 4/7/2012 at 4:33 PM:

    First, congratulations. You’ve done very well for yourself. Secondly, what does this mean for U.P? I hope that even with the demands of your new job, you’ll keep updating. It would too bad if this blog was in its twilight.

    Amatourist left a comment on 4/7/2012 at 4:03 PM:

    congrats on the new gig. Adieu from Texas.

    Drew left a comment on 4/7/2012 at 3:45 PM:

    Congratulations! Here’s to the climb, the drop, the scream and the breath. Take it all in.

    emjkmj left a comment on 4/7/2012 at 3:18 PM:

    Excellent!  How exciting, best of luck as you move onward and upward.

    Per Niblaeus left a comment on 4/7/2012 at 3:17 PM:

    All I can say is congratulations and you’re welcome. I’ve been following this for just a couple of months and it has climbed my internal blog-rank extremely fast. I certainly hope that we will be able to see more of this. This last post was by far the best one ever, it really felt as if you were speaking from the bottom of your heart. Good luck, go for it!

    Andrea left a comment on 4/7/2012 at 2:40 PM:

    Well done, Fred! Bravo!

    Desi left a comment on 4/7/2012 at 2:04 PM:

    Congrats Mr. Castleberry!

    John left a comment on 4/7/2012 at 1:54 PM:

    Holy crap, that’s insane man. Congrats!

    Daniel left a comment on 4/7/2012 at 1:32 PM:

    Good luck!

    Ammu left a comment on 4/7/2012 at 1:25 PM:

    Congratulations! Terrific news, the job seems like a such a good fit.