Ten years ago, the photo below, entitled “Tied Down” was taken for a project in my AP art class. (Techie side note: Shot on Kodak TMAX 3200 film) At that time, I was a photography “freak”. I was passionate about this hobby, I had a vision, and thought I had found my calling in life. I submitted this photo for a state high school competition and won the master’s award for photography. This piece was later selected as one of 25 pieces from high school students around the USA to hang in the Chicago Institute of Art. I wrote a caption with this photo which stated the purpose and concept behind the image. This photo was to be a representation of how many people choose to lead their lives…tied down, never leaving their comfort zones, and don’t go beyond what they are capable of.
As high school graduation neared, I received multiple scholarships for my photography (I don’t state this to brag, but rather to make a point). However, the thought of actually pursuing an art degree terrified me. I had no desire to be a “starving artist”. Rather I took the easier route and pursued a career path that felt comfortable. I obtained a business degree back in 2006 and began working for a top accounting firm. Upon completing my first day of work I came home to tell Emily I had made the wrong career choice. Sadly, I had no idea what the right career choice should be. In 2008, I was asked by friends to take some photos of their children. Hesitantly, I accepted their invitation. I came home that evening and was floored by the results. I had once again contracted the “photography bug". Meanwhile, I continued to work my corporate
dream job. I began picking up more and more photo jobs. Many times, I thought to myself…”could I really make a career as a photographer?” Time passed and I began taking on more and more photography assignments…weddings started pouring in, I began attending various workshops and conventions across the US.
Photography work began to devour me as I tried to keep afloat with my job. So in October 2009, I decided to take on a less demanding job for Target Corporation. I was still a corporate job, but it was much less demanding. This job was perfect, great people, great work -life balance, and great work environment. However, something was missing. My mind often wandered from work to photography, but my thoughts of becoming a photographer were quickly overshadowed by doubts, fear, and failure. Thoughts of my cost of education degree, stable health benefits, and a steady paycheck kept me from pursuing my passion. A few months ago, I stumbled across my photo of “Tied Down”. Like reading a fortune cookie, I read the caption and realized that I had become the very thing that I warned against in a photography project ten years earlier. It was mind-blowing…I have always been one to preach that you must do what you love because life if too short. Yet, I found myself doing what I didn’t love and was miserable.
It was a turning point in my life. I decided I needed to practice what I preached and to take the leap. Last Monday marked my first week as a self-employed guy. It’s scary, exciting, and refreshing all at the same time. Although I have mixed feelings about this decision, I know that it is the right one. That said, here’s to a new chapter in life and doing what you love. Wish me luck!
With this new chapter, comes a push toward a new look and feel for John Sharpe Photography. Things will be changing here over the next several months starting with a new blog.