A New Journey Begins. by Michael Jin

The past six months have been a whirlwind of both good and bad. Around six months ago, I made the decision to trade in my Nikon D850 and all of my lenses and accessories to switch to a Sony A7RIII. Since then, I have gotten settled into a new work environment, gone through my son’s first birthday, watched my sister get married, been a witness at my cousin’s marriage at City Hall, found out that my wife is pregnant with our second child, been hospitalized by a herniated disc, came to the conclusion that I dislike using the Sony A7RIII, purchased an Elinchrom ELB 1200 Kit (I would have never envisioned myself purchasing higher end lighting equipment before), made a decision to eat the loss and trade in all of my Sony stuff to return to Nikon, and I have decided to start making an active attempt to grow my photography side job into what I hope can be my primary source of income. Tomorrow, sometime in the morning or early afternoon, I will walk into Adorama, put down my Sony gear to trade in, and walk out with a Nikon Z7, lenses for it (some of which I used to own), and over $10,000 worth of debt that I didn’t have 2 days prior to show for it. That’s credit card debt, not loan debt. For a person who has a natural fear of failure and has struggled with self esteem issues, I have never been so fucking scared ever before in my life.

At the same time, I find myself trembling with this odd sense of excitement. Truth be told, I needed this. I had been paralyzed by indecision for so long, but hearing my wife tell me that she supports me in this decision should I choose to pursue it and then immediately afterward, hearing a sermon about being decisive just stirred something inside of me. I need to do this. Even if the worst comes to pass and I completely fail, for once in my lazy life, I need to discover what I am actually capable of if I seriously try and where my limits truly lie. I’ve dicked around for so long when it comes to photography. I’ve had nice cameras and nice lenses (probably better than many working professionals); I have done jobs here and there always downplaying myself as an amateur or “semi-pro” at best; I have spent the majority of my shutter counts trying to discover my soul in the realm of fine art photography with no intentions whatsoever of displaying my work in a gallery or trying to sell it. I feel as if I have been preparing for this moment forever now. What will all of that preparation mean, though? Will it mean anything at all? Will my work still be able to stand on its own feet in the professional world?

It’s insane because this weekend started out with me fielding several potentially lucrative job offers—both in the compensation and networking potential of the jobs. It shocked me, however, to see how utterly unprepared I was. For fuck’s sake, I did not even have a portfolio to be able to send them simply because I had never previously considered taking on any commercial work like that. All I have is this website filled with my personal stuff, but nothing showing the array of skills that I have developed in different genres. They say that success comes when preparation meets opportunity and when opportunity came knocking, I was utterly unprepared for it. Suffice it to say, I sent them whatever disorganized Google Photos albums that I could in the rush that I was in, but it’ll be a crap shoot as far as whether I land either of these gigs. In preparation, I failed. Will more opportunities come? Who the hell knows? That’s God’s will, but I am not going to be caught unprepared like that again. God willing, those will not be the last chances I get to enter this realm.

So ordering the lighting was Step 1 of this transition. Tomorrow’s Adorama visit will be Step 2. Step 3 will be creating projects for the express purpose of building a marketable portfolio of work. Then there’s the stuff like adjusting this website, getting business cards made, and getting myself out there, all the while continuing to refine my technique so that I hopefully don’t make an ass of myself (although I suppose that’s inevitably going to happen at some point). I don’t know if any of this will work, but despite my immense fear, I feel… joy.