Capture Date: 1/14/2015
camera: Nikon D750 with 16-35mm f/4 lens
Two and a half years ago I was working full time in Civil Design (land development) and basically just stared at a computer screen doing Autocad for 9 hours a day, repeating the same tasks in a slightly different way over and over. I really was learning a lot, but the repetitive 8 to 6 office life routine just wasn’t for me. Photography was going to be my out, and was obviously my dream job at the time.
I applied for an internship with Chris Burkard, and his team told me that my "portfolio and resume stood out to us amongst the many hundreds of submissions that have poured in over the recent few weeks." I was beyond stoked, and I proceeded to make it to the final round of interviews with only a handful of other applicants. I called in sick and drove up to his studio in Pismo Beach on a Wednesday from Dana Point, print portfolio in hand and as nervous as I’ve ever been in my entire life (more so than for any engineering interview or even my final for my 2nd attempt at Thermodynamics at Cal Poly). I walked in the door and was immediately put at ease. The studio space was incredible, Chris and the team were super cool and most of them surfed. I knew I would fit right in. I got a tour of the space and a look into a day in the life of my dream job. We talked for a few hours about photography and life and it went really well and I was absolutely stoked. I was convinced that I’d be spending the next 6 months going on photo excursions to Iceland and across the world with them. I was so pumped on photography at that moment that I stuck around and took the photo you see here that night before I drove back home down the 101. I'm really glad I did, because it's still one of my favorite photos to this day.
It was tough to go back to work after that. The following week, while I was sitting at my desk staring at a mess of white lines over a black background, I got the call I had been anxiously awaiting. It was Chris’s assistant, and he told me I didn’t get the job.
He said that their decision point was that I had a full-time engineering job, and that they wanted to give the internship to someone who was a full-time photographer and really “needed it”. They were worried that I wouldn't want to throw away my engineering career for an unpaid internship and an off-chance at a future in the very turbulent and competitive landscape/lifestyle photography industry. They were dead wrong and I would have done that in a heartbeat, but I guess I didn’t convey that fully to them during the interview. I was shocked and absolutely devastated. It wrecked me, and it took me a while to completely recover.
I've always been a pretty strong believer that everything happens for a reason. In the end, it turned out to be a blessing, because I grinded it out at my engineering job for 5 more months and saved enough money to quit and travel for a year. I was able to road trip up the Pacific Northwest, backpack across Europe, hike the John Muir Trail, and have an extended 3 month stay in Kauai after that--none of which would have been possible if I had gotten the internship. The ironic thing is that I think my photography progressed more by losing the internship than it would have had I won it.
I came back to the engineering world and got a better job in construction management, with a little more freedom in the schedule and a lot less office time. I realize now that a career in photography probably wasn't what I was really after. The romanticized idea of it seemed incredible, it honestly still does, but the realist in me knows that it would have been super tough to survive and live on a sporadic photographers salary. It's a nearly impossible industry to "make it" in, and although I had and still have a lot of confidence in myself, the truth is that the chances are slim.
I'm still searching for that career I'm after, something that really ignites my passions. In the meantime, I'm learning a lot about myself and growing in the process. Life is crazy, but that’s what makes it worthwhile.