Some of you may know (my immediate family and my high school bowling coach) that I took photography in High School. I’ve always loved photography and the outdoors. “But Keith you’re a gamer and you spend a lot of time playing your XBOX!” Yes, I do play my XBOX, but growing up I spent most of my time outdoors in the woods playing as a kid or fishing in the pond at Kymer’s Camping Resort in Branchville, NJ. I miss those days now that I have responsibilities. If someone walked up to me and said “Keith, I’m going to give you a choice…you can have every XBOX product from now until you die for free, but you can never take another photo again. Or you can have every photography product you want until you die but you can never play another video game again” My choice would be simple. Photography all the way. I’d rather spend my time traveling, hiking, seeing the beauty in this world than I would sitting on a couch in front of the TV playing games. Shocker right?
With that being said, I used to live in a photographer’s dream…I lived in Colorado just blocks from Garden of the Gods. I guess you could say it was like I was cheating since I could literally just pick up my camera without looking and hit the button and blam….amazing picture of scenic beauty.
Now I live in Pennsylvania….and not the part of Pennsylvania with the pretty mountains and the gorgeous forests…no…I’m close to the Steel City. I went out on a “hike” on the “trail” in this town….and by “hike” I mean walk and by “trail” I mean wide semi-paved path with houses and industrial buildings on each side. It’s left me with a bit of a challenge…how do I get breathtaking photos that will sell? I don’t have those amazing sunsets on the mountains with the awe inspiring colors in the cloudy skies anymore. Now I just have grey cloudy skies and trash thrown all over the place as I walk. Thankfully there are garbage cans that allow me to throw the trash out that others are too damn lazy to throw out themselves. Come on people! Take some pride in where you live! Now, here I have to find the beauty…it doesn’t just scream out at me.
I had to redefine what I was shooting when I moved here. I’ve been putting my photos up for sale with Shutterstock, EyeEm, Adobe and a few other places. I had to step back and say to myself “Okay, these sites sell “Stock Photos””. What that means is that they sell photos to use in ads, or posters, or articles….lots of different things where they portray a message they are trying to get across. So, maybe I could look at this a little differently. Maybe I don’t need sweeping photos of the Rocky Mountains, the Kissing Camels, the Siamese Twins Rock Formation…maybe I can do something different. Now I look around and I try and find something I can shoot that might be used to portray a message, to help people learn. I might have one thing in mind when I shoot the shot, but the customer may see something different in it as well…and that’s okay. I might take a picture of let’s say that cut tree up above and think it would go great for schools to use to show the tree rings that show the age of the tree. A customer may look at it and see a tree that was cut down too early and use it for environmental awareness. Hey, whatever…money is money. Speaking of which, if you fancy yourself a photographer and want to make some money I’d recommend starting out with Shutterstock (This is my referral link btw). They are pretty easy to set up with and I’ve earned the most with them so far. I actually had a realization the other day when I was walking around town with my camera around my neck. I had stopped in a dollar store to grab a snack (hey…I walked 12.5 miles) and the cashier asked me what I was taking pictures of. I quickly responded with “Oh, I’m just an amateur stock photographer and I get pictures of whatever I think looks cool”. I then paused and had her confirm with me “Hold on, if you get paid doesn’t that technically mean you’re now professional?”. She said as far as she knows. So I corrected myself and said “I’m a PROFESSIONAL stock photographer”. She didn’t need to know that I haven’t really made much yet since I’m still building my portfolio…but it still felt nice.
So, with all of these changes to my attitude towards what I’m going to be shooting you can expect to see more updates on my blog here as I go out on my grand adventures with my trusty camera and tripod.