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Photo File: Adios Veintidos!
A 4th quarter comeback and a new career
It’s been a little over three months since I last checked in here and, boy, does it feel like it’s been three years instead. Up and down and around the rollercoaster I have been—and yet, I’m still here. Still moving, still grooving.
When I look in the mirror these days I see the same reflection but a different man. I am now thirty years old. A lot of my life has drastically changed in the interim of my last entry, and the most positive of these changes is that I’ve managed to solve the puzzle I spent my entire twenties collecting the pieces for: to achieve financial independence through self-employment.
You see, for nine years I’ve been bumping my head against the wall, knowing what I wanted to do, just not knowing how to do it. I’ve taken some significant risks in search of my goal—quitting a six-figure income last April, to name one—but even then I’ve always had some sort of safety net to fall back on.
A few weeks before my 30th birthday, however, all my safety nets disappeared. I reached my moment of sink-or-swim; now-or-never. The first thing I did for myself was to stop drinking and I’m proud to write to you now as 129 days sober. I told myself that from now on, I’m going to need to fire on all cylinders. No more fucking around. But even without the booze, I still needed outside help.
In the middle of September, I felt a compulsion to pick up the phone and dial my friend Casey who took a leap of his own in 2022 by quitting a high-paid job to move to New York City where he has always dreamed of living. At the time, we hadn’t spoken in maybe six months, but he is the one person who has always believed in me for reasons I am unable to see myself. And I was in a desperate place.
We had been catching up on the phone for over an hour—about life, work, friends—and just as I was ready to hang up he brought up my photos from Italy.
“You should look into doing something with photography,” he said. “I think you could make some money.” The discussion up to that point had primarily been me seeking advice about different lines of work I might look into pursuing, even entertaining the idea of me going back to school for a specialized certificate, or perhaps even a graduate degree. At this point, I had nothing—no sense of direction whatsoever. That meant everything was on the table. One idea I even had was to take my writing and filmmaking skills into the field of marketing, and I went so far as to spend three days attempting to shoot a short film/video resume in the triple-digit heat of the high desert where I grew up.
But Casey’s offhand comment stuck with me. A seed was planted.
I looked through my photos from Italy again with fresh eyes. Several of the shots I am extremely proud of. However, I had been harboring some regret towards these photos because even though I enjoyed them and loved the process of capturing them, I knew they came at the cost of my ability to be fully present in the moment—especially since I was taking these photos while on vacation with my family: the people I love the most.
I thought about the many people I follow who make great a living off of photography. “Why not me, too?” I thought to myself. “I have the camera, the editing software, all the technical capabilities. I just need the people to hire me.” My wheels began turning.
If you build it, they will come…
Die and create—
Create or Die.
I pulled the trigger and took a shot in the dark. Luckily, someone heard. My first client showed up at my door on the morning of October 4th, and though the shoot went well enough, I knew I had a lot to learn—with people skills ranking just as high on the list as honing my technical prowess. Yet despite an imperfect performance, I was able to leave that shoot with a clear vision of potential growth via unrelenting dedication, and the idea of having something to get better at excited me greatly.
I decided to go all-in.
I began my experiment by opening my schedule fully (7 am-midnight, seven days a week) and I made a pact with myself to say yes to every single opportunity that presented itself—no matter what or who it was for.
“The most important thing is that I get my reps in,” I told myself. I was starting from zero and hoping to pay the bills immediately. Thus began my mission to reach the proverbial 10,000 hours—or in my case: 1 million photos.
Just three months later, I am proud to say I have somehow managed to work with a total of exactly 70 unique clients. I have shot corporate events; family, travel, and editorial portraits; automotive listings; architectural design; clothing brands; wellness centers; law firms; and I even helped a 72-year-old woman with portraits for dating websites. I have shot photos of a famous Hollywood director, and I have shot photos of the former head of Capitol Records UK.
It took me nine years of stumbling in the darkness but I feel as if I have finally landed my feet on the path I was in search of for so long. Granted, my legs are indubitably fresh. I have a lot of tripping and falling to do, but no matter what, I will continue to get back up again because, for the first time, I’m confidently walking the path of my own making: earning a living doing something I love without having to answer to anybody else but me.
So, there it goes! Adios to veintidos—the worst and best year of my life—and hello to 2023, the beginning of a new and wonderful adventure in a new decade of adulthood.
I’ll leave you now with a random selection of images from a few recent client shoots. I can’t wait to do better, and I will see you again soon.
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