I was warned. A 60 day notice was given to me, that I would be laid-off from my work, of which I have been with for over 14 years. Right away I set to cushion the inevitable blow of change by dusting off my resume and trying to decide what work to pursue in the coming months. Nearly 11 years ago, the company I had been working for asked me to take pictures of their products, to be featured in catalogs and such. I was given a small budget for equipment, and with much excitement I welcomed this new challenge. What had just been a hobby, was now becoming my job. Slowly it became my main job and I was on my way to being a photographer. Interestingly enough, there was a conflict in me about it.
The hobby side of me never sleeps. The hobby side isn't just something for free-time, to do when I'm bored. The hobbyist in me IS me. Often, it's what drives me. It's always exploring, it's always questioning, it's always feeling, tasting, looking to see, and listening to hear. But, there was a conflict with that. Hobby and work don't often mix.
From my early days as a Christian, I wanted to be a missionary. In the simplest of it, I wanted to tell people about Jesus. I didn't have all the answers to life's complexities, but I knew somehow joy had come to me via Jesus. As years have gone by, the desire is still there, but the scope is different.
Before moving on, I want to tell you that this has come at a cost, seemingly, that I had to choose between my core desires and work. Meaning, my core didn't pay the bills. Now with my lay-off, I'm asking if what I'm passionate about CAN pay the bills. I may sound dramatic, but it's the conflict in my brain. My photographic explorations in some ways are a desire to connect with others. As I've said before, I like to share what I see, what I value, and tell stories. These stories can go from a party I was hired to photograph, to someone I met in a different country. It's not so much about something high-profile or obvious. But, this at my core is what I bring to the table.
With my camera in hand, I've gotten to meet many people, make friends, form my mind, and see things differently. The core desire to be a missionary is still in me. The difference now is that it's not just to tell "outsiders" about Jesus, but also to show the "insiders" about what we consider "outsiders". Often I feel there are many stigmas in this world, dignity denied, and it's my job to expose or bring healing in the name of Jesus. But...
There's a reminder, I need to put food on the table, earn enough to support a someday family, and be comfortable. At the same time however, I'm trying to put something greater in perspective, that I was designed with a purpose, and that I want to be open to that purpose. Maybe there doesn't have to be a work John or hobby John, but both get to mingle.
The question I guess this is all boiling down to is, "do I get to be me?"
Over the years, the curiosity in me has lead to many high points, and sometimes to nothing. The way I see it is like a farmer. I don't know much about farming, but I think I've heard of having multiple crops for diversity. Each crop has it's own season and all require attention.
The fear I have is about turning myself into a business, which isn't what I want.