I mentioned this recently on Twitter, but it bears repeating (if only to really wrap my brain around it): I quit my day job.
I'm ambling down a stressful path, one of unknowns and mailbox-checking, hustling for work and jacked-up networking. Surely this will feel like a lack of security, but with that, a sense of freedom, too. Freelance. When people ask what I do, I'll have to say that I'm a photographer. Like, that's just what I am, I guess, now. Perhaps it's been a long time coming.
I studied photography at an art college near Toronto and graduated 9 years ago (whoa). I thought, like the rest of my classmates, that I'd just go ahead and be a photographer. I didn't realize, though, that 20 year olds aren't really prepared to be anything, only anxious, fun-loving egomaniacs who've got other things to think about than careers.
And after a couple of false starts over the years, things started happening in a way that made sense to me. Jobs I was excited to take. Work that felt inspiring and satisfying. Work that paid. And it kept coming. And here we are. It feels like the time to take a risk, to go out on a limb and see what I can make of it. And while I'm a little uneasy, I'm also not afraid to come crawling back to the grind and get a job some day, if it comes to that.
For now, I'm just jumping.
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There's nothing quite like the confidence boost of seeing your name in print. The first time I had photos in a national paper, I thought to myself, "Oh man, my Grandma's gonna love this!" (Maybe it became real for me too.) It can be hard to explain to your family what it is you hope to do, and though it might not be the most exciting gig you've ever shot, there in ink on newsprint, it suddenly feels legit. It's tangible. And now, alongside artwork from my nephews, she has something new from me to pin on her refrigerator. Surely she'll show off when a friend stops by.
And when I have a bad freelance day, when the next job isn't yet booked or I wonder if I made a terrible mistake, I'll remember this: Last weekend Jeff and I visited my family for her surprise 80th birthday, and amidst the excitement, the first thing she said to me was "Jay, I called the Globe & Mail and I told them your name is too small! I demanded they make it bigger the next time!"
Oh! And recently Toronto Life Magazine's Stylebook hit newstands. This will be an annual supplement, and I was lucky enough to be have some work in the first one. At the risk of sounding green, I'll tell you that seeing my name in the masthead was one of those moments. A deep breath was required in the elevator ride and a good many minutes were spent just staring at it.