Sunday, March 15, 2015

Sometimes It Comes Full Circle...

Once upon a time,  I used to visit my blog every day. I wouldn't write something every day, but I would visit it, re-read what I'd written, check for new comments, etc.

It dawned on me today that I haven't been here for a while; my "I quit smoking" post.

I should rectify that. Let me catch you up on what's led up to today. Here's the "Cliffs Notes" version:

Life is probably busier in St. Augustine than I thought it would be. Two years ago, around this time, I was preparing for an epic cross-country drive from Portland, Oregon to Poyntelle, Pennsylvania. That trip spanned 25 days and covered some 5,800 miles, and it was one of the most self-fulfilling things I've ever done. At the end of that trip there was a job waiting for me. I was going to be the photographer at a summer sleep-away camp. 

After that, I decided it was time to try to get myself established here in St. Augustine. There's no shortage of photographers in this town, so I knew it would be difficult. But, I was also confident that I could set myself apart. I was offered that camp job again last summer but, after a lot of consideration and soul searching, I opted to stay here in St. Augustine to dig my heels in and settle in as a photographer.

Sonofabitch if it didn't work.

You know, in the photographic community, Craig's List is often viewed as the worst place to go to find a photographer (those who advertise there are often cheap, and with good reason), and a bad place to go to find a shooting gig.

Often, not always.

I've encountered two instances where the shooting gigs I was looking at turned out to be dogs. But I've also managed to find the best paying gigs I have through Craig's List.

First and foremost is my gig with St. Augustine Social, a new magazine here in St. Augustine. I answered an ad on Craig's List and managed to get hooked up with an Editor and a Publisher who are simply great to work for. It started out just shooting single events. Then it moved to writing for the magazine's blog. Then that morphed into doing restaurant reviews. There are other photographers who work for the magazine, of course, and I have no idea how many events they cover or how often they're shooting. But I know how much I'm shooting, and writing, and I feel incredibly fortunate for the opportunity.

Another "Craig's List" gig is with a company out of  Baltimore, shooting composite photos for fraternities and sororities. It's a little labor intensive and, as I found out only two days ago not without issues, but it's a decent paying job and, because it revolves around universities, it's pretty steady work in the Spring and Fall. Hell, I even got my daughter hooked up with them to shoot in southern California. She's got two gigs coming up in Los Angeles here in the next few weeks.

The third righteous gig I landed off of Craig's List is with a company out of Boston. They provide photographic coverage for "Warrior Dash" events, "color runs", "mud runs", marathons and the like. The nice thing about shooting for this outfit is that they pay $50.00 an hour, require no editing, and they guarantee you a certain number of hours per event. The first event I shot for them, last summer, was six hours. I shot an event for them a month and a half ago that was a guaranteed eight hours, but it ran nine hours. I just wish the events were held more often, because you have to request to shoot particular races, and they only need so many photographers per event. My next two events are coming up in a couple months in North Carolina, and I have requests in for two others.

Next is my gig as one of the house photographers with the St. Augustine Amphitheater and the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall. Now, these aren't paid shoots (concert gigs rarely are), but I do get in to see some cool shows, so I'm not complaining, and there are more cool shows coming up.

So with all of this other stuff going on, I've decided to return to that summer camp in Pennsylvania. How can I do that? 

Well, my Editor is cool with me going, and that's my primary consideration. If she had a problem with me going, I wouldn't go. Simple as that. She's all for it, though, and has even asked me to get a couple of restaurant reviews finished up before I leave so she'll have them ready to publish.

Second, the frat/sorority shooting thing just isn't going to happen during the summer months, so I'm not missing anything there, which is good. The concert gig is non-paying, so I'm not losing any money there, and I'm confident that I'll be able to pick up where I left off with them once I return.

Lastly, the "mud run" folks. Well, this one is where I could lose a little bit, but then again there's no guarantee that any request to shoot an event would be granted. So, maybe I lose and maybe I don't.

What I know, though, is that I'm looking forward to returning to Pennsylvania this summer. They tried to hire the guy they had last year (which makes perfect sense) but, when that fell through, it was nice to know that I was high enough on their list that I got the call, and that they value my work enough to ask me back.

So, yeah, the photography thing has been working out. I still have some ideas about what I want to do but, as it is right now, I'm working at something that, ten years ago, I never expected to be doing. Ten years ago, I was shooting bands in exchange for a few beers in San Diego, trying to find a niche for my work. I ended up shooting a lot of shows in San Diego. It's really what got me started on this photography thing.

So now, as I write this, I'm watching the clock on the wall, keeping tabs on the time because I have to descend into the nightmare of downtown so I can go shoot a bar band tonight. I think about how this whole photography thing, while allowing me to earn a living with my camera, has finally come full circle, back to where it all started: Shooting a band in a bar in exchange for a few beers.

And there's a part of me that really, really digs that...

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