So... Shy of three years ago I quit my stable and well-paying (state) job of 6 years. [Until now I haven't made it known to my parents. In fact, if they're reading this right now, it means they are just learning of this news. Surprise Mom and Dad! Your son is now a full-time photographer.] =)
Ironically, of all the available fields and positions for state-employees, I was working in the Human Resource Office as a Transaction Specialist where I practically pushed paper--processing new hires, health benefit forms, retirement, etc. It was a "desk job"--one that will definitely drive any creative artist off the cliff, which it ultimately did to me. To say the very least, the last two years of being a state employee made me very unhappy, highly-stressed, tired and depressed. Cool that just rhymed. I can remember all the moments where as soon as I got home from work, I would hurry to bed and just cry--seriously! It affected me that bad and of course everything else that was important to me.
So, I quit my job!
I remember having an early dinner (Lamb and Mash Potatoes) and a beer down the street that day by myself. It was a feeling I will never forget because that moment I felt like all the weight of stress and depression had just lifted off my shoulders. This must be what retirement feels like (LOL)! Ok, ok.. I'd be lying if I told you I wasn't the least bit worried about what would happen next. Where or how do I make money to pay bills including a mortgage and a really expensive Jeep! Trust me, I was worried but I knew deep down inside that I wanted to pursue my photography career full time.
Soon after, I assisted another photographer on a major project to shoot imagery for a drilling company based out of Sacramento which had a worksite in the Mojave Desert. They were drilling holes to install the biggest solar grid (in the world) just outside of Las Vegas. Having this experience and opportunity really opened up my eyes and validated the fact that I can become a successful photographer. This was my first stepping stone that would get me through the river.
Part of my game plan is to finish school and get a Bachelor's degree in Marketing and Photography. While continuing my education, I wanted to get my hands on as much experience in the field as possible, so I took an internship for about a year at Sacramento County's Communication and Media Office where they handled news and promoted services. One take away from that job was my experience working with Parks and Recreation. Not only did I design their sign manual (for parks) but also had an opportunity for a ride-along with a ranger. That was a cool experience! Meanwhile, I'm also hustling every inch of the way to get my work in front of people and businesses that needed commercial photography to promote their products or services.
Fast forward to the following year, I started assisting in the photography program at Sacramento City College teaching studio lighting and photoshop techniques. Soon after, I got my feet wet shooting editorials for Sac Mag. This was definitely a milestone in my career as a photographer because I worked so hard to achieve this kind of opportunity. My first assignment was to shoot food (which if you know me/my work, I don't shoot food). So you bet I was nervous because although my technique in lighting was good, I lacked experience in shooting food--much less "hot-plated-food." In fact, after that assignment, I felt like I messed up my only chance of working with THE magazine of Sacramento. If you're asking why I thought that, well it's just I felt like my images didn't compare to other food photographers in the area (well as they say, we are our worst critic).
After not hearing from Sac Mag for two months, it confirmed my notion---I sucked. BUT, I didn't stray away! I sent a follow-up email to them and basically implied that if they had any "portraiture work" that they needed done, I'm the man for that job. So what did they give me--photograph "art boxes." It was still not "people" but I was nonetheless ecstatic to get my second chance. Shown below is one of the images (out of 3 art boxes shot) published in the December (2015) issue.
Following the street art assignment, the next month I finally received a portrait assignment! Yessss! This is right up my alley. So I photographed the folks at V. Miller Butchery.
Long story short, the assignments kept rolling in after that. I pushed myself to think outside the box creatively, but simply do the best I can "as if it depended on it." And the truth is, IT DOES!
People, you can do this too.
As artists, we will always be our worst critic but let's change that! Let's be our own #1 fan.
We will always doubt ourselves and our own work because we feel there is always someone better. The truth is it may be true and that's the harsh reality but it's only because they are more experienced. Time correlates with everything. The more you know, the better you become. So train. TRAIN HARD. However, there is also truth in the fact that there is someone out there who looks up to you and your work. So be the inspiration for them. As long as you work hard and believe in yourself, success will follow. Just know that SUCCESS is not only measured by the clients you photograph or your last paycheck.
SUCCESS is LOVING what you do and being able to inspire others who want to do the same.
Work Hard. Stay Consistent. Always BELIEVE in YOURSELF!
Remember y'all--work your ass off like someone is ALWAYS watching even if it's just photography assignments for school or personal work. This will lead to your success and doors will open up, one right after the other.
Till next time, I hope you enjoyed reading my story so far. Do what makes you happy and never settle for anything. So why not--go ahead and take that leap of faith. YOU control your destiny!
YOU CAN DO THIS...
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