Some of the career options I’ve pondered in the last 24 months of recession-triggered crazy ups and downs: long-haul trucker, UPS driver, postal worker, toll-booth operator (exhausting…get it?), secretary, farm worker (but in France–I mean really, with the food, the long vacations, and the strikes, why not?), nurse, personal assistant, bartender, furniture maker. The thing I’m wondering is whether this is the mid-life crisis stuff that leads to the purchase of a cherry red corvette, or if it’s the kind of out-of-the-box thinking that gets people through rough times. That is, do I pay attention to the daydreams of full benefits and regular hours or, as I’ve done for most of my photography career, bite down harder on the idea of Life as an Independent Artist and damn the torpedoes.
It’s funny what a difference ten years can make. When I was thirty, I thought no further ahead than the next week or month and was fully confident that I’d eventually be living in one of the nice houses whose residents I was often called to photograph. I looked at their expansive kitchen counter tops, their laundry rooms and backyards and figured someday it would all be mine.
Now, ten-ish years later, I understand more what my parents must have felt when they urged me—then just out of college—to take the full-time job at the brokerage firm where I was a part-timer. I couldn’t imagine giving up my dream of becoming a photographer for something as silly as health insurance and a regular paycheck. A job? Really? Why?
I’m not about to hang up the cameras; I still love what I do and can’t imagine doing anything else. But I do get it now. And it’s both horrifying and fascinating how my perspective has changed in the last few years. I’m not ancient by any means, not even old, just barely into my 40s. But I mean, I remember Bob Hope specials-the live ones, not reruns. I remember when Reagan was elected. I remember learning to type in high school…on a typewriter…when there was no internet…
And now when I look ahead sometimes I think: A job? Really? Huh.