Time is an odd thing when you’re a passionate freelancer. Days of the week suddenly don’t matter and everyday becomes a work day… everyday a holiday. The good and bad moments blend into one with the passing of time until all that matters is the present and the future.
I tend to forget the experiences that I have lived through until I look back at the images that I captured. Somehow, the essence of that time period is captured within the photographs and through them I can remember specific moments in my life. As someone who continuously looks towards “the next big project” I don’t normally take the time to look back and reflect upon my life.
This morning as I woke up and checked up on the standard twitter, facebook and email… I noticed that all over the place people were posting up wrap-ups of their year. That’s when I noticed that today actually happened to be the last day of 2012. While I had known year’s end was coming the significance of it hadn’t actually hit me… which led me to the question of: What did I do this year?
Before going into sharing the details of my year, because this undoubtedly will be one of those long tedious post that 2% of people will actually go through (leave a comment if you made it all the way down!), I just wanted to write a big thank you for all those of you who have been part of my life, who have supported me, believed in me, worked with me and been there for me. Whether we have spoken recently or not, I am grateful for having you here and sharing those fleeting moments with you whether it be a comment on the internet, a conversation, or more. As for those of you who have selflessly supported me despite my insanity (you know who you are!), thank you, I couldn’t have gotten through this year without you.
So what was 2012 for me? I guess it was definitely the craziest year of my life. To summarize:
- Quit my job as a Mining Engineer after 3.5 years to follow my passion
- Travelled to Israel for two weeks and met up with Udi from DIYPhotography.net which inspired me to…
- began my blog (over 135,000 unique vists) and maintain a youtube channel(over 300,000 views in 6 months)
- I crowdfunded 12,500$ to shoot inspiring artists around Europe with Erwan for a month and got my first sponsorship from the SLRLounge and Lovinpix
- Did my first underwater photoshoot with the Underwater Realm.
- Specialization in fire photography thanks to master pyrotechnician Andrey Das.
- Passed 10,000 fans on facebook and took a semi self-nude portrait in response to a fan challenge.
- Got signed by my first agent, Suzy Johnston + Associates and completed our first project “The Red Mistress” together.
- Had my first intern, Deidre Casey, come in from Colorado to stay with me for 2 months and work on a variety of projects including an Epic Pumpkin Massacre that won us the Kessler Crane Halloween Competition
- I travelled through Europe a second time giving speeches and workshops in Rennes, Paris, Toulouse and Amsterdam
- Received my first international commercial contract in Los Angeles
- Gotten published on all over the net in a variety of languages… from Gizmodo, to Lifehacker, to PetaPixel, Fstoppers, SLRLounge, DIYPhotography, [FRAMED], KesslerU, Kwerfeldein, ephoto.sk, and more…And in pictures? One photograph for each shoot I did this year. It’s missing about 6 more that will be coming out in a variety of Behind the Scenes for 2013.
It’s a funny sensation having your entire year summarized in a tiny image 800px wide by 217px tall. Looking up at them from so far off, I get the odd sensation that I didn’t actually do very much in the year of 2012 despite the little list I compiled right above. After all, put another way: Is that really all I have to show for a year’s worth of sleepless nights and countless hours of work? Little pixels on a screen?
Then I remember: It’s more than just the pixels I produce, but the impact that these pixels have on people. It is the power that art has to stimulate, motivate, inspire and move. When I shoot, I try to create worlds and dreams… a sense of fantasy and drama that you can normally only find in fiction which hopefully inspires others to pursue dreams of their own.
And beyond the actual images I create, there is the journey that I share. That is the purpose of the Behind the Scenes… to inspire those around to create adventures of their own.
When I originally began doing the Behind the Scene stuff, I had looked at it from a marketing perspective – Having BTS meant that potential clients could get a sneak preview at who I was and what I was capable of doing. It also meant that for each photoshoot I did, I would be able to reach a larger target audience. Along the way though, the videos and blog posts developed into so much more.
Suddenly I had people looking up to me, waiting for the next crazy idea that would pop into my head. I couldn’t deliver sub-par work anymore, each time I had to improve… I had to come up with something new. And when I didn’t, fans would call me out on it.
The need to educate others through my blog posts also meant that I had to continuously learn and master more and more material; in other words, I had an insatiable source of motivation: The Internet.
While it can become exhausting at time, I welcome the pressure because it pushes me to innovate constantly and to challenge myself to become better at what I do.
And beyond my Asian need to always better myself, the occasional fan message, comment or email that tells me: “you made a difference in my life” is the greatest compliment that I could ever ask for.
I know that I am blessed – having a great family and a solid education means that I have a lot of perks that have allowed me the possibility of pursuing my passion with such focus and dedication.
It is true that without those two, I would never have been able to be where I am today… but I think that had I been without these advantages, I would have still found a way.
Saying that “I can’t because…” is simply opening up the door for an innumerable number of excuses to never even try. Whatever your life situation is, I encourage you to remember what your dreams are and to work towards them with purpose. A new year is on the horizon filled with endless opportunity.
Yes, hard times are ahead, but without them… the good times wouldn’t be as sweet.
And if, for whatever reason, you still don’t know what you want… don’t stop looking. Get off your ass, stop playing video games and watching TV and look for new experiences that will challenge the way you think.
Santa Monica Beach Art: woke up at 5AM, climbed a rollercoaster.
So for 2013, rather than bore you with my insane plans for the future, here are some words of wisdom from the internet. I highly recommend you watch each one of them! They’re awesome.