Early 1990’s – I Was a Photographer

Note from 2012…

I’ve been thinking… this ebook thing is working out pretty well. I’ve done far better than I would have predicted. Other stuff is going well-enough too. I’m successful in some small way. I could take off for a year and have enough that we’d not starve or have to move out of our rental. Of course, I’d never just take a year off without doing anything – that isn’t my nature.

I’m thinking about photography again.

She just lost her footing…

Years ago – I was a photographer. I got paid for it. Not well, but again, I paid the bills with it and with doing slide duplication at Lamont Custom Color Lab in New York City. The owner was a complete jackass, and may god singe his balls on a George Foreman grill at some point… and, that’s another story I don’t need to piss you off about.

I roamed the streets of New York shooting whatever I wanted. I was into color…saturated, blinding-color. So I got a lot of shots of blood, florescent green antifreeze overflowing from buses, and celebrities. Guess which paid the bills most? Celebrities. I’ll try to find some shots to add to this post that I took in New York, that you won’t find in the group at AimforAwesome.com in the New York Collection.

I was thinking yesterday, and today, that what I really wanted to be back then – was a photographer.

I mean, for life. I wanted to do advertising photography… product photography… glamour, fashion, travel, and National Geographic type photography. I wanted to do everything. I wanted to put my name out there – and companies or rich individuals called me, to bribe me with a giant expense account and flying to Seychelles or some such sunny locale.

I was on my way… I had just got the approval from Steven Wilkes, Jay Meisel’s nephew, and quite successful already photographer himself, to be one of his assistants. Photographers have multiple assistants. Good ones do anyway. Good ones that are working, do anyway. Steven had a couple.

I wrote him a snail mail one time and he called me up at home and told me to come on over to the studio. I’ve had a way of affecting people with written words, over the course of my life. I can literally affect everyone but writers themselves – in a positive way. Writers enjoy none of what I write, for whatever reason.

We talked about 30-minutes. He looked at my portfolio of slides – color Ectachrome, Kodachrome, and Fujichrome. He looked for a long time. You know how, if you’re looking just to humor someone, you look it over, ask about one – and that’s it, changing the topic of conversation quickly? He looked HARD and asked me about nearly all of the images.

Steven Wilkes, to my surprise, told me to start coming by his studio to whenever I could, and see if I liked working for him.

I never went by again.

Instead, I walked the streets shooting homeless people by the tens of thousands. I shot colorful fire-hydrants, and the World Trade Center towers. I remember the one time I purposefully went down there to shoot the towers I saw a bus with a “Bonjour” sign in the window. In the window, I was sure I could see the twin towers reflecting if the angle was right. I was correct. I snapped a shot. Bonjour… I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what made sense about that image – but it remained important to me for years. I know, I sound like a Forest Gump movie at the moment.

Suffice it to say – it was weird beyond words – when the world trade center towers fell and I realized then, that the Bonjour sign meant something, but that was 10 years after I snapped the shot. Why did I have the strange feeling that I was making history when I shot that reflection in the bus glass? I had shot over 100,000 images at that point and the photo is not great in any way technically. There was something I just knew was important about the photo. Never had even the slightest premonition what it was.

Hope I can find it to put here in this post…

Oh, and this one of the plane flying between the two… forgot about this one…

So, I was thinking…

What if I wanted to be a photographer now? Take a year and just go whole-hog into it. Technically – I have the knowledge floating around in my head. I literally shot photos and thought about photos for 3 years in New York, that never left my brain. It’s likely there is a thin layer of soot-colored brain material buried about an inch deep under the more recent mush, that deals entirely with photography and New York. I just need to access that layer and continue like I never stopped.

Problem is – photography has changed. I posted a couple times at one of my sites, about how being a photographer is not even a valid career anymore. Not long ago I frightened a kid attending university in a photography program – to not speak to me anymore. Go easy, we’ve since reconciled.

Everyone and my mom has a camera these days. She can’t put jack on Facebook, but she could sell photos to magazine editors if she wanted. I think most people that pay $1,000+ for a DSLR can hold the camera still enough and in the general direction of a prize-winning shot a good percentage of the time.

My uncle, an artist, got into digital photography somewhere around the mid-1990’s. He had the latest camera and lenses, studio setup, darkroom, etc. He shot weddings and gradually did a lot less painting in favor of shooting on the camera.

Man, that was 15 years ago.

The state of things now is that monkeys can run around with Canon 7D’s for National Geographic, all by themselves.

Is anyone hiring photographers for anything but weddings anymore? And, if you’re hiring a photographer for a wedding – why? Doesn’t someone in your family has enough sense to snap a few shots?

As it turns out, it’s not that easy to make amazing photos. It has never been. It’s not that much easier today, to consistently churn out top of the line photos – as it was twenty, thirty years ago.

Elite photographers are still somewhat in demand. Sure there are stock photo agencies with more than 20 million awesome photographs to choose from – but, sometimes they don’t have the right image. They pay someone to go shoot the right image. It’s expensive as hell, but Dom Perignon and the Ferarri F-1 Team, have the money to spend a few thousand on some great photos.

So, I’m thinking about throwing my hat into the ring.

Why photos and notebooks?

I am not a great writer. Far from great, I am. LOL.

I was once a good, and bordering on great, photographer. I had the balls to do it. I had the technical know-how. I had the drive to do it. I had the equipment to do it. Today, I’m left with the know-how, but the rest of it comes easily once moving forward.

If one of these next ebooks I’ll release in the next 2 months doesn’t absolutely start KILLING IT – I’ll go the photographer route and see if that’s what I’m all about.

If not, I’ll write more ebooks.

How’s that sound?

To me, sounds like a plan fermenting.

One last photo…

John F. Kennedy, Jr. lost his key during lunch. Here he is, waiting for emergency locksmith to come and drill the lock.

Update: November 2017. I realized recently – I should combine everything that I like – and do wildlife photography – shooting, editing, teaching, doing field trips out into Thailand’s rainforest, and all of it. I’m going full-on into it.

Check out the new site at:

AsiaWildlifePhotos.com >

  • Kristi

    Back in the 90s…NYC was still cool. Now it’s so sad. Greedy landlords have choked the life out of that city. Good photos here, and good instincts staying out of that 90201 scene. Thailand must offer up endless scenes for pictures! Not saying I want you to stop writing, though…. :)

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