It’s been over a week since my last post. I have 350 Maui images on my hard disk, calling my name, but I’ve been so busy since coming home that I haven’t touched them. To give you an idea how busy I’ve been, last Tuesday my new 5D MarkIII arrived and I haven’t clicked the shutter once. That will change in a few days (if it kills me).
I love being a photographer, but it’s an unfortunate reality that turning your passion into your profession risks robbing photography of all the pleasure it once offered. Suddenly earning money takes priority over taking pictures, especially in this day when images just don’t sell the way they used to.
When I decided to make photography my livelihood, it was only after observing other very good digital photographers who, lured by the ease of digital photography, had taken the same path without recognizing that running a photography business requires far more than taking good pictures. Rather than becoming further immersed in their passion, they found themselves forced to photograph things not for love, but because it was the only way to put food on the table. And with the constant need for marketing, collections, bookkeeping, and just plain keeping customers happy, they soon realized that there was no time left to do what caused them to become photographers in the first place. Sigh.
So when I decided to change from photographer to Photographer, it was with a pretty good idea of what I was risking. I vowed that I’d only photograph what I want to photograph, that I’d never photograph something simply because I thought I could sell it. In my case that meant sticking landscapes: no people or wildlife–in other words, pretty much nothing that breathes.
But how to make money? My previous life in technical communications–I’d been a technical writer for a (very) large high tech company and before that had spent many years doing tech support, training, testing, and writing for a small software company–combined with a lifetime of camping, hiking, backpacking, and (of course) photographing throughout the American West, made conducting photo workshops a very easy (and enjoyable) step for me. Supplementing the workshops with writing and print sales has allowed me to pay the bills, visit the locations I’ve always loved, and explore new locations. And most importantly, it has allowed me to keep photographing only the things I love photographing.
One of the things I love photographing most is spring in Northern California. March is a month of bipolar weather swings, a time when blue skies with puffy clouds turn into gray, frog-drowning downpours with alarming suddenness. March is also when our hills reach a crescendo of pupil-dilating green, the oaks leaf out with new life, and poppies start to appear everywhere.
One of my favorite diversions on these spring afternoons is driving into the Sierra foothills east town to photograph the poppies. With the window down, Spring Training baseball on the radio (go Giants!), and doing my best to get lost in the maze of narrow, twisting foothill roads, I’m in photography heaven. I found the above scene a couple of years ago on a quiet hillside beside the Cosumnes River in the Gold Country of the Sierra foothills. But this scene could be just about anywhere in California’s ubiquitous rolling, oak-studded hills.
Despite the current busy schedule, there’s comfort in the knowledge that our spring conditions will persist into June. Next month I’ll find poppies and other wildflowers mixed with redbud in the many canyons roaring with Sierra snowmelt. And come May, it’s dogwood time….