I am a photographer. I used to be a banker, a pretty good one too, until I fell victim to our planet’s financial collapse and was forced into a premature and hopefully temporary retirement. I’m probably a pretty good photographer too, but the measurement of ‘good’ is hard to define in either world. I made good money as a banker. I make no money as a photographer. I loved banking. I love making photographs.
During my recent hiatus from banking, it might have been easy to sit around and complain about all the things I’ve lost, the real retirement that was almost within my grasp, the financial goals that are now a few years farther away. Instead, I’ve turned my energies to filling my time with learning, educating myself about the history of art and photography, developing new skills and methods for making photographs. I’m as happy now as I have ever been, so even though I am not seeing a success than can be measured in dollars, I am the wealthiest now that I could ever have imagined. I’m glad I started into photography when I did, as although I have the time today it would be difficult to justify the cost of the equipment I own, even though by some standards it is obsolete. I am thankful that I have had something so stimulating and rewarding to keep me from going stir-crazy.
The toughest thing about the last few months is not knowing. I’ve sent out dozens of resumes, and have even had quite a few interviews. They’ve all went well, but there are so many people looking for work that the competition is fierce, and there are lots of people looking for work with the exact skillset that hiring managers are looking for. And while having 30+ years makes me valuable, it also makes me – at least in the eyes of hiring managers – expensive. Never mind that my current income is now zero! I’m really a heck of a deal to someone looking for someone who knows banking, but no luck so far.
A couple of weeks ago Kathy & I spent a weekend with Andy & Karen Fisher, who own a B&B in Belhaven, North Carolina. We’ve gotten to be friends with Andy & Karen over the course of several visits, and we have had the opportunity to go with them on their boat and have had dinner with them and some of their friends. This last visit Andy introduced me a couple of times as “Tom is a professional photographer.” The first time I thought, “well, not exactly.” But after the second time I though “dammit, he’s right, I am a professional photographer.” That made a real impact on me, and for the first time made me start thinking of myself as a photographer instead of a banker. Now I just need to figure out how to expand on that and make something of myself.
Image is from Far Creek in Engelhard, North Carolina.