I am a photographer.
I am an idea thief.
I am a collector of images.
I graduated in 2009 from RCC in Asheboro, North Carolina with an AAS in Biocommunications Photography and an AAS in Commercial Photography. My years at Randolph are what made me a photographer.
I was always the kid who had to have a camera during events and vacations. But I didn't take photography seriously until around 2004. I was given a beginner dSLR and focused more on concert and event photography. Before photography, I had aspirations of being a designer. Of what, I was never quite sure. But photography grounded me. It made sense to me. And about a year after shooting as a hobby, I decided to make it my career.
My first year at RCC, along with everyone else's, was devoted to mastering photography fundamentals. Which is something I think that most self-taught photographers lack. And also learning traditional photographic film and darkroom techniques before ever going into digital photography. And while the vast majority of professional photographers shoot exclusively digital, RCC has stuck by the concept of film photography being a much more tactile and enriching teaching tool. Which I agree wholeheartedly.
During my first year, I initially I majored in photojournalism. But after a few months in school, and a few crushingly difficult photojournalist assignments, I realized my shyness and general social awkwardness would keep me from anything significant in that field.
Around that time Gregory Heisler, a prominent Time magazine portrait photographer spoke at RCC. His genuineness, humor, and straight-forward talent completely changed my mind towards commercial and portrait photography. Up until then, I thought studio photography was fake and contrived. Afterward, I made it my calling.
I changed my major to BioCommunication, which specializes in medical and technical photography. I never intended to go medical, But I did want the specialized technical training BioCom provided. I enjoyed the program and learned a great deal. But after two unsuccessful internships and a missing academic credit, I did not graduate with my classmates and decided to go for a second major.
After a loss of focus towards the end of my BioCom concentration, majoring in Commercial photography woke me back up. It was a far more fast-paced program that emphasized the end result of the image itself: What did it say to the viewer? What was it selling? Who would it attract? Etc. It helped me solidify the concepts I had learned in BioCom, and added more depth and application to them.
After graduating, my class found itself job hunting in the worse market in decades. While the photography industry once employed dozens of RCC grads every year, the digital shift of the past decade cutback and condensed the workforce greatly. So, that compounded with the declining economy of the late '00s, was a pretty lousy graduation gift.
At the moment, I am still trying to figure out where I fit in the photography world.
I enjoy photography. It comes somewhat naturally to me. But Growing-up, I was always taught that "hard" and "work" were synonymous, that making a living was a grueling back-breaking affair. Something one did because they had to, not because they wanted to. So, now I find myself conflicted for getting paid to do what I love. And though I do work hard and stress over my craft, monetizing is still my most difficult part of professional photography. But even still, I cannot see myself doing anything else...