Today rather than reflect on the now, I chose to look back to last year around September when I became serious about being a photographer, an educator, and ENTREPRENEUR.
To do so I went back to Brooklyn, a town that I know now has ultimately helped shaped the person I am, the people I know, and my perspective in this world. In many ways I am forever indebted to my friends and experiences in New York City.
Stopping into my previous positions and reconnecting with old colleagues I had the opportunity to share my pursuits and dreams. In return I was met with excitement and praise.
Life is all about opportunities, but it is up to you to read them as opportunities.
When I was 16 my family chose to move us to California from Ohio. I was devasted. It took a long time before I began to make friends and feel at home. But years later I see the confidence this has built in me, the strength to be alone, the power to step out of my comfort zone. We can always look at a new event as a problem. But with adversity comes strength. "Those who learn to use adversity to their advantage, however possess the power to turn adversity into greatness" - (Lewis Howes, The School of Greatness, Pg. 55)
Below you can find the post from last September
Everything is an Opportunity (If you choose to see it so)
This past month has been a whirl wind of experiences and opportunities.
From a family wedding trip gone solo vacation to New York City which lead me back into the offices of IMG Models and NEXT Models, allowing me to absorb information from the fashion and photography industries top leaders, to photographing for major clients, to stepping foot back into the classroom, to growing in demand for my work in the San Diego region, its been a hell of a month -- and yet amidst all the chaos I can surely say that I am enjoying every minute of it!
I'd love to share a personal reflection and what I was able to take away from these experiences, as to further elaborate my perspective to viewers drawn to my site to showcase who I am and why I do what I do. I hope that I can inspire you with these stories and provide some insight at the same time.
I believe the best photographer isn't in who has the best camera, or the best photoshop skills, but the person who truly sees life differently and I hope in some way my writing helps accompany my visual point of view.
New York City. Big city of dreams. I first arrived in NYC at the age of 22 geared up to attend the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. Full of dreams, but no idea what they were. Still to this day I have my own qualms with attending Graduate school as early as I did, but at the same time I think it is a necessary part of who I am today, my beliefs, and my experiences. My department of Digital Arts focussed more on the philosophical aspect of art from a Fine Art perspective rather than the commercial art field I went on to work in. Which is why I feel my photography is unique. Because in my mind each piece is a work of art, not a photograph.
I worked my ass off, quickly executing class projects while interning and working for some of the photo industries largest players. Beginning at Art Partner (owned by Giovanni Testino, brother of Mario Testino) , I worked my way from lowly intern to capable producer, leveraging myself onset whenever I could with famed photographers like Terry Richardson. From here to Art and Commerce with the PRODn team with Steven Meisel and IMG Models working under VP David Cunningham.
Me with my former boss, mentor, and all around good guy, David Cunningham, VP of IMG Models. David has always been there to lend me advice, a helping hand, and a push to strive for perfection.
Despite an amazing opportunity my inner creative longed to be on the forefront rather than the backend and I left to pursue new opportunities back to my native west coast of San Diego, California. I risked it all in this pursuit, with no job lined up, no major plan. Just listening to myself.
Me with friend and mentor, Kyle Hagler, President of Next Models. Kyle has always been there for advice and providing the attitude if you want something go and get it. 'you know who you are and what you are capable of, go and do it!" I hope everyone that reads my page can take away this attitude and think of the things you can accomplish!
Leaving NYC was a hard and complicated decision, but I ultimately new it meant starting again. Something as an artist I have never feared and often embraced. I began work a teacher and creative strategist for a non profit called Outside the Lens with a mission I really believe in, helping get cameras and digital skills into the hands of those schools that otherwise would not be able to provide such an experience. The result has been humbling and taught me more than I think I could teach my students whom I am constantly learning from.
Determined to create a unique lane for myself, I can not say that I am there. Or that I am a success. Or that I know where the road ends. And I am okay with that. Everyday I am a work in progress and learning and growing in the process. I'm a firm believer in connecting the dots. I think life is a pattern, all the tools are there, all the paths are provided, and its up to us to put them all together. I'm still piecing my puzzle together, but can already say its weaving together beautifully.
Upon my return I was able to do some reflecting and compose a list of four bullets that have helped me push forward in life and in business. Come back tomorrow and I will share ten bullets from a man far wiser than myself from a book titled, Made in America.
1. Look at everything as an opportunity (work a shitty job? Find out what you can take away from the experience rather than focussing on the negative? Why does one item sell more than another? How does your attitude effect customer service. Be a sponge!
2. Understand you aren't hot shit...yet. And that there are people better than you. You may be confident and feel like you know everything there is to know, but that just isn't true. There are people more talented and more knowledgable than yourself. LEARN FROM THEM. BEFRIEND THEM. UNDERSTAND THEM. They will be able to provide you a wealth of knowledge and resources that helped them along the way. Look to them as mentors.
3. Treat everyone with respect. This is a big one. Not even to advance but just in general. You never know what someone is going through, what they've been through. Life isn't fair and sure as hell isn't easy so this is just a good rule of thumb for life. For business don't burn your bridges. That person that you thought was a doofus at your last job, may go on to create the biggest business you've ever seen. Treat them with respect and maybe when you need advice he'll open up the door to you.
4. Stay ahead of the curve. Stay learning. You can never know to much. Is there a new technology coming out that will impact your industry. Learn it. Use it. Free class or webinar you can attend? Go! The people that fail to succeed also fail to adapt. Don't let that happen.
Thank you for reading and I would love to hear from you! Send over a comment and share what lessons you have learned along the way! Maybe we can all learn from eachother!