I really thought I would write this blog post talking about how hard 2016 was, and how happy I would be to see it go.
But the more I thought about it, the more I couldn’t be brought to think of it like that. While, yes, there were certainly things that changed for me this year– truth of the matter is – this change was something I really needed.
(Now, If you’re any kind of reader of this blog, you’ll know that I go for long periods of silence – followed by long ramblings on my page. This isn’t a business website- and more of where to keep in touch with things that are in my head. If you don’t want to read a lot, just come back tomorrow.. i’ll have it all spelled out)
Being Truthful to Myself
When I think of who I am – at the core – Photographer is not the first thing that comes to my mind. Yet, I feel like i’ve been living in a space where the value of what I do is constantly measured along the lifeline of the “amazing” photographer. For the last couple of years, I feel like I’ve walked in a sea of catch phrases, “Top Ten Things” posts, Instagram constructions, and live broadcasts talking about dumb things that don’t impact anyone’s life – much less things that people could really care about. Things that I really didn’t care about, but put up with. I swam in a sea of ideas of “this could sell” or “this’ll be viral” instead of “this could help”. Little by little – the running of that wheel just took me further from what I find joy in. It’s this manufactured persona of a photographer – like this is something we should really strive for. I hated that.
Surprise! End 2016 with a post on how what you see publicly isn’t really the reality of a situation- right? Truth is – if you look close enough, you could have totally seen it.
I was burnt out. Market-ed out. I hate the entire concept of selling a lifestyle. Its just not cool. I think that social media has a level of connectedness that I like – that has absolutely nothing to do with pushing your resume out to the world. The whole gerbil wheel that comes with the whole ‘public photographer’ thing had run its course. I think people have a really good radar for that kind of bullshit.
Covered in flies, I sat and thought about the things that give me Joy.
At my core- I am a teacher first. Ever since I was a kid – I wanted to be a teacher. I went to college to become a teacher. I spent time in a classroom as a teacher. That’s what fills my heart – teaching. And here I was doing all of this other stuff that really took me away from helping others. The more I got away from sitting and really helping people, the less happy I was.
If I really want to be happy – I need to just go back to teaching. But how do I do that?
Earlier in the year, I started working with Mia McCormick and Kevin Agren on something called Fotopromos. The idea is actually pretty neat – take a bunch of resources and content – sell it for a fair price for a limited time. Bring value to people that want it. Cool – I could get behind that., I made classes for that, and found myself really excited about that part. However, once the classes were done for the package and the window closed for the orders – that was it. No one else to teach to.
I sat right back in the same spot. Wanting to teach- and not really having an avenue where I could do that. In the process of this Mia, Kevin, and I had built our new home and got it ready to go. I wanted to do more with it.
(Kinda) Random Story Break – The Guy on the Plane
I remember running into a guy on a flight to a show in NY about a year ago (i’m not saying who he is here.. but if he’s reading.. thank you!) . I sat on the exit row, about to devour a full Publix sub when we struck into a conversation. Thankfully, I was able to convince him to take half my sub (There’s absolutely no reason I should have been allowed to try to eat that whole thing), when he admitted that he did know who I was, what I did, and that he was a member for a while, but left after not having anything that interested him,
Apologizing for the ill fitted analogy (cause he’s an AMAZING photographer and totally didn’t need us… ), I told him that there was no need for him to feel bad – that it was important that he go out and make his mark.
I told him – I’ve always viewed myself more like a Kindergarten teacher than anything else…
I have students. They come into the room. I teach the things that are necessary to get out there and do great things. We get to the end of the semester. I pat them on the back and say “Go do amazing things” and they move on.
I don’t sit around wondering if the student is going to light candles for me, buy my t-shirts, sign up for the super exclusive come have tea with me experience. My job was to teach.. and it was done. If they visit the classroom and say hey – I’d love to see them.
But I did what I was supposed to do. A quick pat on the back and I get ready for the next class..
I knew what I had wanted to do all along.. I just needed a little bit of silence from all the noise in my head (and a bit of woodworking) to remember…
So i’m off to go Teach.. not Preach…