Investing personal time and money in my vision...what does that really mean? Did you ever see yourself somewhere? A place where you should be but you are not there yet? I did. And no, I am far from there yet, but I am working on it. And the more I work on it, the closer I am to reach my vision.
When I was a child, I wanted snow in my birthday. I wanted to speak English. I wanted to live by the mountains. I wanted to be a photographer. And I wanted to meet a soulmate who had a ready made child. I taught myself English when I was 11, with self-discipline of studying two hours a day, every day, on my own pace, a desire that came out of nowhere.
I followed my grandpa and his camera with enthusiasm, dreaming of creating black and white pictures, all I knew then.
I went to college, graduated in languages, finished my MBA.
One day, I came to visit. Twelve years later, I am American. Now I have a voice. And a choice.
I have a day job like everybody else. I am good at what I do. I love people. I teach myself new skills all the time. However, this is not supposed to be what I am supposed to do. It is a long journey to leave everything you know, your original beliefs and your way of living - and all your family - in another country. A "growth" journey if I can use this beautiful word.
My love for photography started really early and still is the thread that keeps my life together. And it is just starting.
My grandma in heaven used to farm when she was a child. I remember her saying that if you sow all the time, you will reap. Lots of your seeds may not ever grow, but at some point, if you plant, you WILL reap. Based on my love for photography, my love for my family, my rooted beliefs, and my soulmate's support, I decided to join the boat of investing my personal time and money on my vision. On January 1st, 2015, I embarked on this crazy journey to photograph a PORTRAIT A DAY, every single day of the year of 2015. A different person every day.
I am putting my personal time, every day on this project. A project that will make me a more disciplined human being, a better communicator, a more organized person, a much better planner of my time (I am pretty good at it, but I am getting better!) and a more connected person.
I am putting my personal money on this project, as every day, I drive more to find more people to schedule ahead my portraits. I print more model releases, hence I need more ink. I print more pictures so I can remember the new people who were strangers when we met. I buy more coffee to meet people. I make more phone calls.
A project this big requires dedication. Planning. Courage. It is hard work. I want to be a better photographer than I was yesterday, so I am dedicating four hours of my day, every day, to make it happen.
I wake up earlier, go through my morning routine and my new routine: call people, email people, answer emails from people who heard about my project, schedule somebody else, remind the people who were scheduled a month ago, load the car with equipment, drive to my portrait a day appointment. Create the portrait, load the car again, come back home, download pictures, let them sleep a little. Then, go to work, come back from work, repeat the morning routine of calls and emails, sort through the pictures to select the portrait of the day, edit the image, resize for web, upload the image to volunteer, post online, email volunteer to download picture. All while I have to find time to eat and sleep somewhere in between, and time for my sweetheart, who believes in me.
For those thinking of investing personal time and money on yourself I already have an early advice: DO IT. You are worth it. Know that it comes with some sleep deprivation, meal skipping and late return calls. It also comes with you identifying new styles you like to photograph, new lighting patterns, new friends, and a bigger network.
If anything, I am almost 100 days into the projects and I feel like my life has been enriched by the people who have been entering on it. New experiences, new lighting, new people. I have been driving to places I never knew existed. I met new neighbors and did a portrait at 5:15 in the morning.
Investing personal time and money in my vision means I am planning my success. When I look back, I feel better for trying harder and I see growth in my body of work as a photographer. When I look forward, I am waiting for the stars, just like the ones I earned in early school for turning in my homework.
If practice makes perfection and you reap what you sow, I am closer everyday.
I AM A PHOTOGRAPHER.