I feel like writing an open letter today to any photographer or creator that this may reach or potentially inspire/enlighten.
This thought has been in my head for many years now as a working professional photographer, and I am certain that when I say some of the things that I will share in this post that I am not alone.
For starters, I personally feel that I as a professional photographer have chased things/status/people for far too long. The pandemic gave me much-needed solitude and reflection to reset and come to grips with this.
When I left NYC, some saw me as a "celebrity" just because of the people that I photographed in my career. I'm not.
I am just a person that loves taking photos just like you. I happened to make a living to barely keep going off of my photography alone before the pandemic, and even so, I was starting to do other things like teach, and work on other projects to stay afloat or to get ahead.
I have had the honor and privilege of teaching for a long time now too. I truly love teaching even more than I love making photographs sometimes. There is something very fulfilling to me to help others to reach their potential and to help them find their own journey with their camera.
I have seen many in my time though too that think about getting into photography for what I would personally classify as the "wrong reasons". A lot of people think that they are going to become famous on social media overnight by gimmicks/trends/or shooting what I would label as low hanging fruit with content that just gets a lot of likes that you yourself are not actually passionate about, or that you are lying to yourself and others about your intent in creating.
Some start photography thinking that there will be a lot of money and that you can just "be creative" all day and get paid to make things that you want to make. You are wrong!
In any business, you are there as a business to serve your customer's needs first and foremost. My Dad taught me a valuable business lesson when I was young of "He or She who pays, gets!". Some clients will let you create whatever you want - cool. But most have a specific vision of their own in mind, and it is your job to create that how THEY want to have it done.
Others chase low-hanging fruit like models, current trends, or what you think that people will like. You are also wrong! You are lying to yourself about your intent of photographing these things generally and simply trying to gain your own self-worth or popularity which does not have anything to do with you as a human being.
I say to anyone who has done this that I had to learn to find my own voice and to shoot everything in this world that I have been able to at least once to find an honest voice. Stop lying about why you shoot certain content though and doing it just for social media to prove to yourself that you are worth it. Social media does not mean shit to make a truly great photograph! Be upfront about it, and it will serve you much better in your path.
And for the love of God, STOP MAKING THINGS FOR LIKES! Make something because you are passionate about it and find your authentic voice. Likes will psychologically mess you up more than you know. It is not any real traction in the photography industry and does not get you jobs. Making authentic connections and business relationships does. My friends at The Phoblographer invited me to share my insights on why I deleted all my social media a while back.
With this all said, like I mention, I have chased many of these things before too.
At this point in my career though I realize that for me - the most important part about photography is the experience and being authentic. This is why I will continue to teach and keep it real just like this post today.
I will not however be continuing as a commercial photographer. I have other large goals and priorities for my life, and I will be investing my time into who and what I am most passionate about going forward. This does not mean that I will not take on the odd shoot/job if our goals and values align, but if you think I am going to shoot you just so you can post the photos that I create on your fucking Instagram and be popular, I'm done.
Going forward also in addition to teaching, I will be pursuing fine art photography for my own enjoyment. Many have asked if it will lead to another book, or when my next exhibition will be..etc..etc. Thank you for all of your interest and support, but my honest answer is - I have no idea! I am going to take however long that it takes to find what I am passionate about shooting for my next endeavors. Organic experience and adventures are what is most important to me right now.
If you are interested in private photography lessons online, please feel free to reach out also. I have students in over 42 different countries, and I am very passionate about continuing to teach and share the gift that I have been given in photography.
I have a professor from back in college who also used to say that if you release something into the world, the world will carve a niche for you. I prefer to say to let go and let God also.
Thank you as always to those with who I have had the pleasure of befriending and keeping in touch over the years as a commercial photographer. It was a good run! Here is the next chapter for all of us! Be well, stay safe, and take care of the things that matter in this life like yourself, family, and friends.
If you are new to my work also, I hope that this helps to guide you and to inspire you on your path. Take care!