It has been 363 days, two days short of a full year, since my last blog post. So where have I been?
First, I want to recap what I’ve been doing over the last year and a half. In December 2009, the company I worked for as a computer security engineer (AOL) decided to institute a voluntary layoff program. Basically, the company wanted to shed some staff but decided to do it voluntarily. Those who volunteered would get a respectable severance package. I decided that this was my chance to launch into full-time photography. I had already planned on a trip to the Middle East shortly after Christmas 2009 so I decided to expand it. I originally planned on spending a few days in Cairo, two weeks in the Gaza Strip (where I would work with a local NGO) and then spend about 4 or 5 weeks in the West Bank. The goal was to turn international freelance photojournalism into a sustainable living.
So I headed to the Middle East and spent two weeks in Cairo. The trip to Gaza fell through since the Egyptian government would not permit us to enter Gaza. I could have reapplied for entrance on my own but that would have taken at least another two to three weeks which would have destroyed any hope of doing the work I wanted to do in the West Bank.
After two weeks, I flew to Amman, Jordan and ultimately crossed into Palestine by land. I spent just about 4 weeks in the West Bank reconnecting with friends and covering the various weekly protests throughout Palestine. It was an incredible experience I’ll never forget.
Upon returning to the US, I did my best to solicit other photo assignments and submitted my portfolio to as many agencies and media outlets I could. Nothing happened.
In the meantime, I had received a few inquiries for doing other types of photography work, including a couple weddings and a few corporate events. I shot a few corporate events and ultimately decided to turn down the weddings. More on that later.
After a few months, it looked like I was going to have to start looking for a regular job. The severance package had run out, my savings was almost depleted, unemployment wasn’t quite paying the bills, and the little bit of money I was making from other photography assignments just wasn’t sustainable.
Luckily, I still had some time to look for the job that was right for me and I ultimately found it. Again, more on that later.
The short story is: I failed.
First and foremost among the reasons why this great experiment didn’t work is that my work simply wasn’t strong enough. It isn’t. I’m not saying it’s not any good at all. I still and will always love a lot of the work I’ve already done and I’m in no way ashamed of it. But, I have to concede that it simply wasn’t good enough to get to the next level. The interesting thing, though, is that this revelation didn’t depress me, really. OK, maybe for a very short time. But, in a way, it’s somewhat liberating to know where you really stand and I’m really, truly OK with it.