Today Marks a Decade of Photography
It was exactly 10 years ago today, that I walked into a bank with a form stating that I was a corporation. My goal was to open a business checking account. It was the first step in a decade long marathon as a full-time professional photographer and journalist. The road has been full of curves with more peaks and valleys than some super-coaster at Six Flags that makes you want to vomit.
I am not saying that I would change ANYTHING at this point. That is the sole beauty of riding a mega-coaster for the first time, you have no idea what is around the next bend or the crest of that next hill. This ever changing environment that is attributed to not only being a business owner, but also being a photographer, is the key to experiencing life for me.
I have lived a decade of answering to no one. Well, except for my wife, and now more often than not my kids. And the old and tired Samoyed currently laying at my feet. Shit, and that new bunny, he seems to always want to snuggle and pee on me. You get the picture though, I have made all of the decisions, most of them wrong, but I am still here. Always trying to figure out how to get more and more people to drink my grape flavored Kool-Aid for a profession that seems like a never ending play date. I cannot really think of any downsides.
I want everyone to know that I have even given blood for this specific post. I went into the spider-infested region of my garage, and cut both my hands on the shelving while pulling out the box that contained a very special little nugget of history. The first slide that I have ever taken – well actually a slide from that first roll. It would be safe to say that there weren’t many keepers. This chosen one is a zinger of a photo. One that I am not very proud of AT ALL. Yes it a wonderful sunrise, in fact, probably, my first sunrise photo ever. It was also my first foray into using transparency film. I am lucky that I never tossed it in the trash, but we all started somewhere right?!.
A Weirdness Only I Know
Malcolm Gladwell states in his book, Outliers, that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field of study. If we break that into a typical 40 hour work week, utilizing every week in the year, it would take almost 5 years to achieve this aspiration. We all know that most of us cannot just drop our entire lives to study something this aggressively. Unless it corresponds to drinking in college. It took me 13 years from that photo on that first roll of film to get to the point where I felt comfortable becoming a full-time photographer.
If you look at the date stamp on my beautiful prized possession of a first slide you will notice something a bit more creepy. It was processed on October 6, 1993. I have asked my wife what that means, only to have her ask me that very same question in return. What I will tell you, is that without any doubt, I have been taking photographs for EXACTLY 23 years! Well maybe a bit more because that photo wasn’t taken on the 6th, it was processed then, but what is a few weeks between friends. I still cannot get over the fact that October 6th must have some sort of significance in some other life for me.
The Learning Experience
The last decade of photography has taught me many things. Most of those lessons have come from other disciplines within the creative world. I am probably one of the few photographers on this planet who has a level one certification to teach downhill mountain biking. Bands like Metallica have inspired me to pick up a guitar again. Modern day abstract painters like Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning have made me turn my lenses towards producing photo concepts of just raw, abstract color. And finally, heavy theorist architecture firms like Morphosis have me viewing not only the future, but using the past as example and reason to further build on what I have learned.
When I began, I was almost embarrassed to tell someone what I did for a living. I felt like they would have never believed me or flat out thought I was lying. Now, I not only seek out people with my stories from word and camera, but I also look for creative ways of doing it. Discovering and learning about the concept of marketing has become my next zone of intrigue. None of this would have happened a decade ago.
I know for certain that what I am doing right now is what I was put here to do. I am looking forward to seeing what another 10 years brings me and many other photographers out there. Although I doubt we will ever go back to film, I am hopeful that we won’t lose sight of the craft side of photography. The scientific numbers game the manufacturer’s currently have us playing with new equipment is really devastating the photo industry. It has become more about the gear, than the vision of the creative.
I am personally going to make it a mission to focus the next ten years of my career on the story. I want to inspire others to forget about television, forget about x-box, and forget about their mobile devices for at least an hour every day. I want you to go out into nature and discover something, anything. Breathe in some little part of the world without email or texting. Climb a peak, ride some singletrack or even simply take a walk with your kids or dog.
In addition to hopefully inspiring my followers to get out, I want to further your thought process and move you to reflect on the craft of photography. We are so quickly heading into the realm of perfection with our equipment and technology that we are beginning to disregard our heritage. All the photographers who have personally inspired me to this point have been found in books and magazines. Their photos were always tangible. I want that. I am ok with the grittiness that some films produced. I don’t really care about noise. I want to capture my viewer’s emotions.
A Little Photo Porn
To put a little inspiration out there in the world today, here are a few photos from my last decade of photography. The captions will give you a bit more info about their history.
In the End
23 years of point, click, repeat. While I have delusions of standing up on some Oscar stage somewhere receiving a life-time achievement award, I know today is basically like any other day. I woke up, made my quad mocha, got my family off to school and began working on my task list for the day. This has happened for the last decade of photography and it will probably happen for the next decade. So until October of 2026…Cheers…cocktails this evening for sure.
Coming to Your Coffee Table
As part of my master plan of world domination, we have been building a fine art photo book that highlights my last decade of photography. This book is titled, Then ~ Now, it is an extremely limited edition print run of only 66 books and has close to 116 photos in 138 pages. Additionally, there are four included narratives that highlight how my vision and business have changed over the last decade in there as well. It is available for purchase in our photography store now.