Monday, December 31, 2007

Leap and the net will appear....

2007 is winding down and looking back I feel like I've accomplished a lot and am very fortunate to be doing what I'm doing. For those that don't know my story, I left a pretty well paying job at a law firm (doing design) and struck it on my own as a photographer. For many, including myself, this seemed like financial suicide. However, sucking it up at a job that was no longer fulfilling seemed like spiritual suicide.

So the choice was do I do what is good for the pocket or what is good for the soul.

I went for what's good for the soul and it has been difficult but fulfilling.

I don't own a car so I haul all my gear to assignments and photo sessions by bicycle. As if it's not tough enough to be a photographer, right?

I had a few lean months where I couldn't sleep wondering where money for rent and food would come from. Somehow, a job or a referral always came through. After six years of a steady paycheck, this was the most gut-wrenching aspect of being a gun for hire. You grow accustomed to the fact that every two weeks your money supply will be replenished. As a freelancer, I don't have that luxury.

Every month I face the scary site of an empty calendar. And every month the calendar fills. This year (and I suppose my life to a great extent) can be best summed up by a quote my girlfriend loves:

Leap and the net will appear.

A year ago, I was working with the most minimum equipment I could as a photographer. Now, I've slowly been able to replace my old computer, purchase a tele-photo zoom, recording equipment and other bits of gear. My workflow has become more streamlined, I am booking more jobs, I am making more in print sales and my reputation as a good reliable photographer in Long Beach is spreading.

Now I'm getting into multimedia work and it is opening many more doors. More importantly, it is keeping me excited to explore and see what new things I can create.

I don't think I've arrived by any means. In fact, I know am just at the very beginning. My equipment is still pretty slim by many standards but my images are strong. I can work with available light or I can use studio lighting. I can dissolve into thin air and shoot documentary style or I can compose a portrait. In other words, I have good solid foundation and if there is a problem I can solve it.

I still stare at empty calendar months, but I suppose what is different is that I know that they will fill. I know that I'm not meant to starve and linger in obscurity. I will make it, if not by sheer force of will alone.

Highlights from 2007

-addressing the City Council at a meeting about how to make Long Beach more bike friendly
-teaching a class on bike commuting via Bikestation to at-risk women
-interviewed by Environmental Defense for an article on bike commuting
-interviewed for articles on bike parking/commuting for Time and Los Angeles Times
-appeared on Toast Long Beach...cable access show celebrating Long Beach
-hired by Mayor's office to shoot Grand Prix and Santiago Canyon Fire
-photographed President Jimmy Carter at Habitat for Humanity work site for Conduit Development
-hired by a family to photograph them for an entire weekend to do a documentary style portrait
-creating my first SoundSlide
-doing my first extended bicycle tour, riding down the Oregon coast
-purchasing a new computer and 70-200 VR lens
-various cover shots for the District Weekly

Some goals for 2008

-purchase portable light kit (Dynalite, ProFoto)
-purchase Nikon D3, 17-35mm 2.8, 85mm 1.4
-acquire dutch cargo bike (Bilenky or Eugene CycleWorks)
-donate %5 of each job to World Bicycle Relief Fund
-work with more nonprofits and NGOs doing documentary work
-hone my multimedia storytelling skills
-work with every large institution in Long Beach
-work with every magazine within Long Beach and OC
-become known as a "multimedia photographer" that is capable of not only great pictures but of telling a compelling story
-do more bike advocacy
-do another extended bike tour
-no more living hand to mouth
-a spot on national television
-sponsorship from Nikon or other major photo manufacturer

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