Please see my postscript note at the bottom of this article.
About 10 years ago my only viable (or sensible) career aspiration was that of a journalist. I began upon that track in high school and found myself at the age of 19 working for a newspaper as a reporter for the arts and entertainment section. Needless to say, it was not the glamour and chaos that I had come to crave. No, instead, I wrote about things such as ribbon cutting ceremonies. Not to slight the ceremonies, it is just not what I imagined myself doing at that age.
Then one night I was working late in the office. I was prepping to go out and interview a subject for an article I was in the process of working on. My section editor came up to where I was sitting and said, “Hey James, unfortunately we don’t have any photographers left available tonight because they are all currently out on assignment.”
My thought immediate went to “on more important assignments you mean?” but I kept quiet.
“Would you be okay taking the photos to go along with your article? We have this staff camera; do you have any experience with photography?” He asked.
At the time I was taking my one required semester of film photography class as part of my journalism major. I knew next-to-nothing about how to take a photo or what types of photos would be needed to go along with my article. But at that point I just shrugged my shoulders and said “sure I can take some photos.”
So I left the office to go interview my subject and photograph them. Mind you, the photos were atrocious. But I couldn’t stop taking more. I jumped around the subject from angle to angle. What if I shot it from this side? Wait, I can frame him like this and take the photo from this angle. Oh wait, what if I went way back here and zoomed in all the way and took the photo like this? It didn’t take long for me to fill up the memory card on the camera.
I thanked the subject and headed back to the office to give the camera and memory card back to my editor as I had no idea what to do with it at that point, how to get it onto the computer, nor what happens when it was on the computer. Remember, this is before digital photography was as commonplace as it is now.
I handed the gear over to the editor and went back to writing the article; but notice a difference in how I felt. I was excited. Elevated. I had re-developed my appetite… but not for being a journalist.
What followed in the months to come was a further exploration of photography which eventually led to my current career.
In thinking back on that night… that was the one moment in which everything changed for me. Had I not taken that article, had I not worked late that night, had I not agreed to take a few shots because all the other photographers were out on assignment… I would not be where I am today. I may have never picked up a camera, may have never been a published photographer, and may have never found this passion.
I think all of us have that one moment in which everything changed. I invite each of you to post a comment on my blog to share what your one moment was for you. What was your tipping point, your event, your catalyst that caused a shift in what you did and how you chose to spend your time?
NOTE FROM JAMES: You may have noticed that I’ve chosen to write this blog article in more of a narrative, storytelling format. Next week I will be doing a seminar and presenting on the importance of storytelling to SAAEMA (Southern Arizona Architects and Engineers Marketing Association) in Tucson. The luncheon event is open for anyone interested in attending. Here is a link with information on how to RSVP for the event.
Thank you sincerely!