Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Career Musing

What a weird year, and we're only 8 months deep. I say "only" given the propensity for random pivots and uprooting non-starts to derail any hope at predicting and preparing. Seems to be the resounding theme of 2016... unpredictability.

Back in June the photography business was curiously stalled despite picking up a new long-term contract in March, but that stall is looking more like a leveling-out of workload and of what I can reasonably expect of myself. Faced with a relatively new (or at least magnified) struggle with unreliable clients, the formerly stern march with which I approached new photo work devolved into a slovenly plod after a brutal series of long distance no-shows. Under contract, I was compensated partially, but not nearly enough to justify hours of time. No grudge against the contract holder, they do the best they can under the circumstances with no recourse available in holding clients accountable. Subcontract work is sloppy sometimes.

My other big contract holder suffered some monumental churn in its photography division around the same time, and so work from that avenue continues to be slower than normal. But... it is picking back up, at least a little. With new management authorities in play, prioritization of assignments is changing, and unlike last year's job-binge in Washington, DC, I'm getting more oddball locations that come off to me as scouting missions to find new market areas to focus on. Which makes sense when the cities are cornered The market may as well expand.

With so much free time in the void of my calendar, I finally got around to toying with Facebook as a marketing tool. The page has been around for some time, largely used as an echo of blog posts on this forum and rarely anything else (I've voiced my distaste for social media before). I'm still not heavily invested in the platform, but testing the waters with potential for virility in loosely photo-work related posts such as highlights of recently photographed homes. Also tossed a couple albums in there from shows and random outings, so content is sloppy and unordered, but that's okay, beginnings are always awkward stumbling affairs. Of note, I do like posting small sets from restaurants, bars, and breweries recently visited, as sort of guerilla advertising pieces (with the added benefit of supporting venues I'm fond of). At the back of my brain is a scratching sound that eerily forms the verse, "Put together a damn website already".

Playing the Google Contributor game lately, too. That effort is less a thing of free advertising (well, not for me, anyway) and more a pleasantly manufactured point to photography for days I (frequently) struggle to understand why I juggle a camera at all. Not super active on that front, but it's essentially a parallel to playing Pokemon Go on lazy afternoons. Which is rather cool in its own right when it's difficult to deal with the arbitrariness of existing. I am aware that there is no end goal, nor tangible or affectual reward, but it's something to focus on and a nice excuse to be in the presence of fellow existentially challenged human beings.

The real curve ball of Q3 2016 comes from my office life. I keep getting pulled into graphic design tasks, and I enjoy them... to a degree. Graphic design tasking keeps me engaged to the point where I lose sight of the fact that I'm working at all and the time just flies by. The caveat to these design tasks are long hours, frequently extending into weekends, essentially translating to all-stop on my photography business. And I'm still not sure how I feel about that, not entirely. I will never not feel the introspective disappointment of what amounts to "selling out", which I now define as working toward the end goals of anyone other than myself in business. My tiny little DMV photography empire may be small, but I'll never feel cozier behind any other walls. Self-employment is like Pandora's Box, this hint of the true potential for self-actualization doesn't get put away.

Dislodged as my situation sometimes seems, I really am in a great position all around. Photography business growth is slow, but even my concept of a low-income month with that business is pretty damn great. And I have opportunities reaching at me from the corporate world, so if a meteor strikes my car with all my camera equipment inside I have a pretty solid fallback option. It's weird that my multi-faceted career pathing insists on eating its own tail sometimes, but careers are like lizards and those tails grow back.

Speaking of which, it's time for me to leave my one job to go do another job and then come back to a third. I'll let you guess where this shell game starts and ends.