Not The Money But The Road To Drive

Small confession: I would shoot for free if I could.

Chuck Berry – Route 66

I would shoot for free if I could find a way to make it work financially.  I’ve never been good at sales, never really wanted to run a business, think about marketing and advertising, networking and promoting.  I don’t like the anxiety that goes along with it, and I imagine the majority of photographers feel the same way.  The ones who don’t, well they excel in financial matters and become the envy of the rest of us, simply because they could make it work.  The majority of us… we just want to capture something beautiful. 

For me, this job has an end-game.  Much like everything else, I use photography with a goal in mind.  I get to express myself sure, and be creative in the only way that I can (I never could sing, play an instrument, act, or draw).  I get to attempt to capture the beauty of the world and precious moments in it, and that’s something I cherish.

But the business side of it, I can’t stand.  I do it because it’s given me a goal to chase after:

In two years, the summer before I turn 35 if I can make it happen, I want to travel the United States.  Not a small plane flight, but an honest-to-God road trip.  Just me, an old ’98 Wrangler with no doors or top, the trunk full of camera gear, camping gear, and food.  Up the Atlantic Coast highway to Maine, over Canada to Chicago, route 66 to LA.  The Pacific Coast Highway all the way to Washington State and cutting back across to Atlanta.  All back highways, no major interstates.  Never going above 60 miles an hour.  Visiting every random detour and awesome view I can find along the way.  Seeing things like the Neon Graveyard outside of Vegas, the Dinosaur Park in California, the Airplane Boneyard in Arizona, the MLK monument in Mississippi where he took his last breath.  I want to listen to the Eagles play “Take It Easy” as I drive through Winslow, Arizona.  I want to reach the edges of the country, dip my feet and the tires into both oceans.  I want to shoot everything along the way.  The landscapes, the monuments, the food, the people, the oddities and the mundane.  Maybe even make it into a book.  Road trip stories have always been my favorite.  I want one of my own.

The Coasters – Young Blood

I have the route mapped out.  It would take me two months, an entire summer.  It’d be over 12,000 miles in a Wrangler that’s almost already at 200,000, only 1,000 of those miles having not been mine.  Gas alone would cost at least $3,000 dollars.  Before I even think of going, the Jeep would need an overhaul, likely new tires and an exhaust manifold at minimum.  But it’s been a dream since I was 15 and I first got the car.  And if I can accomplish it within 20 years, then that’s something huge I can cross off my list. 

So I’m writing this almost two years before I’ll even know if I can do it.  But it’s my goal.  It’s my commitment, my dream.  I figure by leaving this here, and coming back to it periodically, then I can keep focused, and keep the dream alive.  I have a benchmark I have to hit in order to make it possible.  In one year, $2000 in savings from this business.  In the second year, $6000 saved back for the trip.  That’s the stretch, and it’ll mean aggressively expanding my photography business-mindset like I’ve never done before.  I’ll need help, but I believe I have the support network to make it happen. 

Howlin’ Wolf – Sitting On Top Of The World

Don’t get me wrong, I love shooting weddings, events, portraits.  I love creating the art and I’m happy I get to do it.  But like every photographer or artist out there, I’ve got a lot of dreams.  This one, I want to see through.  This is the big one.    

What’s your dream?  Tell me about it in the comments.  What’s your plan to make it happen?