Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Money for Nothing, Chicks for Free No More

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Now that I've joined the ranks of the marginally employed, I can start shooting some stuff that I want to shoot instead of what others want me (and pay me) to shoot.

Oh? You weren't aware I'm now merely marginally employed? Well, I am.  Unless something radical and unexpected takes place in my professional life or the industry I've worked in for so many years -- which I don't expect will happen -- I now consider myself a hobbyist. A photographer of amateur standing.  If I'm still a professional photographer, assuming being a pro equals earning most or all of my income from shooting, I'm simply a part-time pro. A marginal pro.  A semi-pro. Believe it or not, I'm fairly excited about that!

Yep. I've joined the ranks of those who mostly shoot for the love of photography rather than for a payday. It wasn't my doing. I didn't have much to say in the matter. Shit happens. The industry that was pretty damn good to me, money and work wise,  is in the toilet. My clients have all either folded or aren't doing much.

Yeah, I've taken a serious cut in my income. In fact, my income has been on a downward spiral for the past few years now.  I was kind of depressed about that. I've been in something of an emotional slump. A rather numb, emotional malaise. But now I'm not. Depressed or in a frump, that is. I'm kind of giddy about it if you can believe that.  I've arrived at the future I've fretted about for some time but now it doesn't feel fret-worthy. It feels anything but and I'm hard-pressed to explain why that is. But why do I need to explain it? It is what it is. I'm okay with it and that's what matters.

Sure, I'll still score a few gigs here and there. But it will never be like it was before when I was making stupid money. It wasn't ever "get rich" money but it was fairly stupid money just the same. The British rock group, Dire Straits, has a song called, "Money for Nothing."  In the lyrics, the song says,  "That ain't workin', that's the way you do it, money for nothing and chicks for free."  I'm certainly no rock star but it was still kind of like that for me. At times it felt like it. For years. But no more. And that's okay. Who knows? Maybe I've matured? (Or not.)

I've never been a particularly material person. Money has only been my motivation in terms of needing it to take care of my family and myself. That still weighs on me. My son is a senior in high school and will graduate next month. He's going to need my help for college and, naturally, I'll be there for him as best as I can. But for me? My needs aren't much.

I started collecting Social Security last month. Yes, that means I'm officially a geezer. I can't say I'm overjoyed about that. I mean, it's nice to know that every month I'll have X amount of dollars coming in like clockwork. But no one wants to get old just so they can collect Social Security. But what are you gonna do? It happens. The years pass and BAM! All of a sudden you're old and saying to yourself, "Already? What the fuck happened? How did I get here?" But there's no way around it. Not for you, not for me, not for anyone. You either accept it, deal with it, and move on or you lie down like you're beat and ponder the inevitable, feeling sorry for yourself. That's not my way. For me, I see it as a next chapter. Not the final chapter, the conclusion, but simply a next chapter. Does that make sense? It does to me. In fact, it's making more sense every day. 

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It's true I won't be shooting as often as I was before, leastwise shooting models. But now I can shoot what I want to shoot. Certainly, I could have been doing that before but, whenever I did, it felt like work. Unpaid work. Like I was working for free. I don't do free. Never have. Leastwise, when it came to work. There were more than a few times I felt like I was whoring myself out, and I probably was to an extent, but I've never whored myself out for free... not that some people didn't try to get me to do so. Fuck them. I've invested a lot of my life learning to do what I know how to do. Some people want me to give that away? For free? I don't think so. But now, I can shoot for free without it feeling like work and without it feeling like I'm giving something away for free, and I can do so without it feeling like I'm whoring myself out.  You know, for free. It's kind of freeing in a lot of ways. I also expect it will feel like something more. Something exciting. Something new and rewarding in different ways, different than getting paid, that is. At least, I hope that's what it's going to feel like.

I still intend to keep on authoring this blog plus my ebooks. I'm also working on (finally!) putting together a workshop. Hopefully, the first one will happen this fall. When it's announced, I think some people will be surprised. That's because, if all goes well, I won't be doing it by myself. The plan is for another photographer to join with me in that endeavor. Someone who will also be a draw, assuming I'm a draw. Someone who is mostly on the same page as me, photography wise. If all goes according to plan, it will be an awesome workshop.

Anyway, just thought I'd share a few of my thoughts and plans.

The pretty girl at the top hanging onto that chain link fence, and again in the middle of the update, seated on that... whatever you call those things, is Alexa. The two pics and more were captured on a set in a studio. The chain link fencing wasn't set in place, by the way. Alexa was holding it up while she was posing. Obviously, she's a model who can chew bubble gum and walk at the same time. I used three lights for the shots: 1) A 5' Photoflex Octodome for my main, set just to my right, 2) a medium Chimera strip box from behind Alexa, camera-left, 3) a small, shoot-through umbrella boomed overhead from behind, camera-right.  Both were snapped with my Canon 5D classic with a Canon 85mm f/1.8 prime on board. ISO 100, f/5.6, 125th. Simple B&W conversion with PS CS3's Black & White tool for the pic at the top.  You know me: Keep it simple stupid. That's the way I do it.


Anonymous said...

Sorry that times and circumstances have changed for you James. However, I wish you every success and happiness in the future.
I am so pleased that you will continue your blog, much appreciated.
With every best wish

jimmyd said...

No need to feel sorry for me. I've got plans and those plans have a great chance of trumping what I've been doing for the last twenty years. Besides, I was getting to the point where I was feeling so fucking done with what I was doing. The money kept me in the game for longer than my interest in it. Once the money was gone, or mostly gone, it became easier to go ahead with some things that I've wanted to pursue but didn't, because my "day job" got in the way.

Kwan said...

Jimmy congrats on entering the golden years. I'm looking forward for that day myself when I can do what I feel like doing on my own clock, not somebody else.

Bill Giles said...

Well, life happens. I've been out of work since January, but have been enjoying my continuous vacation. I now have the time to do the things that I never had time for while I was working. Among other things, I can sit on my park bench under the trees in the back yard and experience the peacefulness. I hope that your experience is as rewarding.

Garfield Down-under said...

Best of luck to you James. I love your books and will be a buyer of the next few too.

I also look forward to seeing what you produce once you let your true self come out! :)

Perth, western Australia

Nadja said...

Much luck on your new path!
I think time is the most precious thing in this world and I hope you can enjoy having more of it for yourself.
I look forward to see what will happen with your photography, I admire your craftsmanship, but I always liked your more creative photos more, so... I'm really curious to see where you will go!
See you!

jimmyd said...

Nadja: Yep. Time to apply the craft knowledge to other types of pics. Not sure what they'll be. Well, some of them I have planned but others? Who Knows? Thanks for commenting!

Rick said...

Welcome to my world. Here are a few quotes to send you on your new path Jimmy:

Every professional should remain always in his heart an amateur. -Alfred Eisenstaedt

It's about time we started to take photography seriously and treat it as a hobby. -Elliott Erwitt

HAVE FUN ! ! !

Rick D.

jimmyd said...

Rick: I've always said some of the best photography I've seen comes from amateurs/hobbyists.

Anonymous said...

I understand. My son will graduate from highschool the same year I can retire. I also had kids later in life. It is different. I have been rediscovering my love of photography over the last few years.


Jlrimages said...


Best of luck in your future endeavors. Although I know you've said in the past that the adult industry has been in decline, I still find it hard to believe that you weren't getting enough work. I say this because I see a lot of work on the internet from the adult industry, and it's a lot of really bad work. So the question is why are photographers of your caliber struggling when the adult industry is paying for the crap that some of these guys produce. Just sayin'