I've been futzing around building my visual chops for ... depending on how you count them ... a few years or a several decades. A career as a photographers agent kept my artistic desires pretty well in the closet. Yes, the money was good but I always did like having a decent camera held to eye. I started and stayed with Nikons through the film era, with not an automated feature on a one of them. Then digital came along and I was scanning negatives, opening files in PhotoShop and putting my photography degrees to work on family and vacation photos. My dad did say he had the best historical record of grandkids, ever.
Somewhere in the oughts the guys at a 3D boutique had me handle HDRI chores for integration of real environments and 3D objects. Very technical but right up my alley. The recently purchased Canon 5D MkII yielded amazing results on some local still shoots for musicians as well as that technical work. Then along came a request for a special effects laden TV commercial and I was tasked with the video side of that project. Some would say that winning a national award for your first commercial might make it tough to grow from there, but I'll take the chance. My thanks to the folks at The Concept Farm and Related Grey for that opportunity, by the way.
Starting a local production company gave me some very local opportunities. Realtors and mortgage brokers, insurance agents and CPA's were good projects for me to start with. The YMCA project came along and I got to re-live some of the days I spent in what was then called Indian Guides with my daughters. Another project for the local senior center arrived and was fairly consuming for almost a month. This is where I found out about immersion, really becoming a comfortable part of the community that I was recording. These were semi-local work, surely not the national stage, but the opportunity to shoot how I wanted to and edit as I saw it was the real value in those projects.
Back in school, and that is back a ways, one of my favorite assignments was EDL's, short for Every Day Life. We had to shoot at least one per week. The exercise was to capture a moment in reality that told the story of what was going on, captured the eye, and made the viewer pause to consider it all. Not an easy task, and not always achieved, but wonderful when done right. That is what I am now trying to do on every shoot, be it still or motion.
There was a time when I chased nothing but the almighty dollar. It is still good to get some fresh ones every now and then, but I have found that the reward of work well done on projects of significance, with collaborative people, goes far beyond the things that money can buy. Good sleep isn't a commodity, and neither is peace of mind nor friends that will jump in a car or on a plane with scant notice. Those are the gold worth keeping.
May it always be so!