How I got my PhD in the “How-To-Business” of Photography

***New series every Monday for the next 5 weeks*** Part 4 of 5
read part 1, 2 & 3 (HERE)

(without getting into debt or going to school and how you can do it to)

In September of 2000 I started a new life.

The transient life never sat well with me and I no longer wanting to travel or work crazy long hours. I wanted to see the people in my life, walk my dog and sit on “my own” sofa for a change.

I was good at photography but I was burned out. Writing at the time did not turn out well for me. Guitar? Hmm. That was a thought. I had been playing nonstop since my childhood. I had the college band and was good. Pro-good? Not sure…but let’s find out.

Music it is. I wanted to earn my living from playing guitar. I will gladly keep taking photos on the side to pad the bank account and keep my skills sharp. Six strings and mysteries lied ahead of me.

Problem number one; I had no music career or any hope of one anytime soon. What to do? I would get a 9 to 5 job sitting in a cubical (a paycheck is a paycheck and it’s nice to earn money when you’re selling out) to pay the bills. Hmm…not that funny when you’re saying that to yourself. The 9 to 5 was not all that bad; all the free coffee I could drink, high speed internet to plot out my future and weekends off. My new trifecta.

I stumbled into a music partner, she sang I played. I got a part time job playing music for a church on Saturdays and Sundays playing in their worship band. I loved it. It kept my musical skills sharp and gave me the opportunity to play. I even paid taxes from my income earned from playing music. Nothing makes you feel more like a professional than paying taxes.

Soon we were playing coffee shops, church basements and the bookstore circuit. It wasn’t quite like national touring but there were baked goods. Then 9/11 happened. The world stopped and they asked the musicians to play. In times of war send the musicians in first, when they can do some good. One year after 9/11 I am playing 100 shows a years for the next 3 years. People wanted to be uplifted from the dust and music is cleansing for the soul.

Monday through Friday I worked 9 to 5, Friday night through Sunday night was all music. I played everywhere, from street fairs to festivals to small theaters to large stages. I played for the homeless, the prisoner in jail, I played for the sick and dieing, I played for all.

Insanely useful photography tip #5: You have to earn your audience….repeatedly if you want to work.

Throughout this time I was playing music that was mostly originally written. So night after night we had to introduce and re-introduce our music to the audiences. No radio play, no media attention, no big paychecks. We earned our money from self-produced CDs sales and the “sometimes-but-not-too-often” performance fee.

The 9 to 5 was necessary, the guitar brought in some income (some months good some other not so good), photography jobs came in here and there from friends and family. All in all I was earning a good living doing things that I loved. My day job was my closeted secret. People would ask me what I do for a living and I would say I am a guitarist and photographer. They were impressed. I felt like a fraud because I needed the day job for consistent income.

Insanely useful photography tip #6: Do your best work every time, there are no small jobs.

Life was busy and hectic again...then I fell in love.

To be continued…

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Part 5 of 5 next Monday…