Every year around this time I like to take just a few minutes to think about all the positive things in my life that make my life what it is. I suppose I could have been very cliche with the title of this post and made it something along the expected lines of, “Being Thankful”, “Giving Thanks”, or “The Great Thankstacular”…. Well ok maybe not the last one, but at the same time the point is all the same. There are lots of things in life that everyone (not just myself) should take a minute of their day to realize are good things; and to be thankful for them. They can be little things or they can be BIG things. They can be normal things, or they can be weird things. They can be red things or they can be blue things….. I think you get the idea. While I feel like normally it is best to look with excitement towards the future, sometimes it’s equally if not more important to stop and look at the past. Not from a history repeats itself kind of standpoint, but to look at the journey you’ve taken to this point, because there’s still a lot of miles left to go and the last thing you want to do is forget the things that got you this far. For most people it’s already been a long road.
(Nikon D300, 800ISO Nikon 18-35F3.5-4.5@35mm. 1/800th @F6.3)
Every year I’ve done a post to kind of reflect back and really I think that as the economy looms as it is, as well as with world events always spiraling through life as they do it’s ever important to look back at the things you’ve learned along the way. Even a bad experience can have a positive effect on someone’s life. I have lots of things that were incredibly positive this year to look back on and smile. The prettiest most amazing woman in the world agreed to marry me last March. Somehow she can put up with me and this crazy job that my accountant still refers to as a hobby from time to time. The late nights in front of the computer working, the weeks were we don’t see each other much because I have to go and shoot something that’s just off the wall enough that she knows nobody else could do it the way that I would. (Not that my way is always the best when I do it, but my style is just pretty recognizable from what I understand). My mom and dad have been incredibly supportive in my goals as a photographetizer since the beginning; even if that was a little bit of a leap of faith from them. I remember when I went to college and mid way through sophomore year telling my dad that I was going to change my concentration to working towards a degree in photography. I thought he would be proud of me for going after my dreams, and the dream that his dad implanted into me. He appeared so on the surface, but as any parent would be; he was afraid for me knowing that the photography industry wasn’t exactly booming; even then. He feared the truth: I had a hard road ahead of me. Yet him and my mom supported me any way they could, and I’m incredibly thankful for that. Those base things really have allowed me to achieve even the smallest victories in my life. Photography has been good to me thus far in life and I can only hope and pray that the photography gods (and goddesses) continue to decide I am worthy to do this grand profession until I can no longer hear the camera fire while it’s pressed to my face from old age. I have been blessed with the friends I have acquired over at Roberts Camera who have continually trusted me with equipment either on loan, or to test out in the hopes that I may find good or bad points give their patrons or customers the advantage of knowledge. Knowledge gained not by ones own mistakes and expense, but in most cases by mine. When I break something now, whether of my own or something on loan, I almost smile knowing that I will be able to prevent someone else from the same mistake. That feeling fades once I get the bill for the repair, but at least there is some good out of it. The folks over at both Nikon and Canon have been great to me too. Both loaning me equipment on multiple occasions over the last year; stuff that would have made doing my job impossible without having.
(Nikon D300, 1600ISO, Nikon 18-35F3.5-4.5@18mm. 1 second @F4)
I’ve been very lucky as I work full time still for the Indianapolis Star Newspaper. I’ve shot races, basketball games, covered large events, shot advertising marketing custom content, and lots, LOTS more. I’ve been lucky as a lot of photographers are wandering around in the dark in this market. In some ways myself included, but I feel incredibly lucky to have been sought out in a few cases for work as much as I have when not working for the newspaper. A few random jobs mixed with a few referrals is enough to know that I must be doing something right; and I’m absolutely thankful for that. Weddings have over the last two or three years have been becoming a slightly larger part of my business, but have not overtaken it; which I am also thankful for. I am honored and enjoy being a part of documenting someone’s special day, but the half dozen or so I shoot a year is enough for me right now. I enjoy shooting a wide variety of “General” assignments as opposed to picking one particular area and sticking with it. It is suggested I might become more skilled, or even be more successful if I chose something and just stuck with it. I’m thankful that I haven’t had to though, because the work is always interesting, always challenges me in different ways, and even the toughest assignments will make me smile at some point. I’m not a Rockstar at photography thing like Joe McNally, but I pay my bills and every now and then have a little extra left over to take Shannon someplace nicer than the sofa in the basement for date night. Those are the important things really and the things to be most thankful for looking back over the course of your journey. The little things.
(Nikon D70s, 200ISO, Nikon 28-100@70mm. 1/125@F10)
Of course there are plenty of material things in life to be thankful for too, but eventually you come to know that those things come and go. While I’m thankful that I own my D4 as it’s something that not every photographer will have; I recognize that like the D3s and the D3 of before, it will eventually be gone for the next iteration. Really I’m thankful that using it only part time I now have over 30,000 shots on it since I bought it in March of this year. That’s part time use since I have Canon equipment for use at the newspaper and no; most of those shots weren’t of the cats. To put that into perspective, my D2x only had 60,000 shots on it when I sold it after 3 years. I’m thankful because with the help of my taxes I notice it must mean I’m getting better and doing more work as opposed to just shooting A LOT more during the same number of jobs. This leads me to say that I’m thankful for the photography market, and the other photographers out there. (seriously; hear me out) Competition is a a good thing. I wouldn’t work so hard to do what I do in the way that I do it if jobs were knocking 24/7. I wouldn’t read about photography like I do if it was so easy a caveman could do it. I wouldn’t push myself to try and be different in this industry if I wasn’t deathly afraid of not being able to do it at some point in my life. So yes. I am thankful for the conditions of the industry because I feel as though they have made me better. As I said before, gear is a material thing and while I am proud of myself for working hard to have purchased the gear that I own; it will come and go. Not all material things are equal though. My grandfather used to own a collection of pistols, and a portion of that collection now belongs to me. I am thankful that I have those items to remember him by, and even though they are material items that aren’t especially rare they are irreplaceable to me. Sometimes a goal in your journey is to own a classic car, a house, or maybe a Red Ryder pump action BB gun. (Don’t shoot your eye out kid) There’s nothing wrong with being thankful for achieving your goals even of the ownership of something material. The important part is still the work you did to get there; along with what you do next.
(Nikon D300, 320ISO, Nikon 18-35F3.5-4.5@35mm. 1/4@F4.5)
So really no matter who you are or how you look at it. There should be something to be thankful for. Everybody has an opportunity to meet someone new every day. Everybody has an opportunity to make a change in their life for the better every day. Everybody has an opportunity to appreciate the things that make up who they are. If something isn’t working; then change it. If something could be better, or make you happier then do it. Be reasonable, I’m not telling you to sell all your worldy possessions and move to Tibet. I’m simply asking this: would you look back on your life and say that you should have done more/less X? or I wish I should have done this or that when I had the chance? Now’s the time. I am thankful for all my experiences to this point good and bad. I am thankful for all the horrific photos that I have made because without them I couldn’t have made the good ones. (someday I’ll post another good one, honest!) I am thankful for all the good friends that I have, and the friends whom I have had for even a short time because they impacted me and my life in ways that even I am not aware of. The friends that have been there no matter what, and the ones who I knew at a time in my life when we all needed each other. Especially thankful for Shannon who has decided to spent the rest of her life letting me be there for her, and vice versa during all times of good and bad. For the people who have read this blog the last few years whom I have never met. The 20,000 or so and unique visitors from the last year who have come to look at the world through my eyes. It’s not an epic number by any stretch but I hold out hope that maybe even sometimes read the text, and in an even smaller possibility; have been impacted somehow by myself or my work. Thank you for pushing me to push myself to get better at this.
In college a lot of my friends learned a lesson as a motto of sorts with their fraternity, which I eventually learned also whether they realized it or not. I don’t know it as they do because of their brotherhood, but I did get the point. They were taught this lesson specifically with their brothers and they sort of imparted it on me without trying. I guess that’s the sign of a good lesson, when it imparts itself onto others without requiring the one doing the teaching to specifically teach it. Whether you’re in the good or the bad, when it all comes down to it the goals and dreams in your life are like checkpoints as opposed to the end all and be all. We all have dreams which tend to exist in categories of some being attainable and some maybe not as much. The goals and dreams that are achieved aren’t the end and never should be. Yes, sometimes things can be finite or some goals and dreams are to do something once or to a fullest extent, but that shouldn’t stop anyone from looking into the future with new ones. After all, as my friends and I learned in college; it’s not the goals or the destination that is important, but the journey. Without a doubt, the Journey is what we should all be thankful for. Every year I look back at that part of the Journey and how I have grown in my life and in photography, or sometimes how I may have moved backwards. Really all I can think about though is that I wouldn’t be where I am now without the Journey whether good or bad. Neither would any of you. Happy Thanksgiving. Thanks for Everything. More Soon.