I'm turning 60 years old in a few days and I'm a bit taken back by that fact. I usually don't pay attention to birthdays, but this one certainly has my attention. I've been reflecting a lot these past several months about my career and the various choices I've made over the past 30 plus years as a professional photographer.
I'm very fortunate that I selected a profession that has been creatively satisfying and challenging to me. After reading the last sentence, I'm not certain that I selected this profession rather photography selected me.
Back some 36 years ago, I was working as a flight attendant for a major airline. Back in the days when a complete meals were served on flights as short as 1 hour. I use to pass out pillow, blankets and magazines and often recited the old saying "a smile in every window and an ass in every seat".
It's strange how life works out, I would have never guessed that working a flight from Kansas City to Denver would change my life forever. This is actually how I got into professional photography as a career. On that flight seated in first class, was a very well know photographer named Joe Baraban. I really didn't know him, but strangely I knew his work (more about that later). The passenger load on that flight was very light and my fellow flight attendants saw that this was an important meeting for me and they suggested I not work the flight and continue my conversation with Joe. Thank you!
I remember asking Joe what type of clients he shot for, he Budweiser, Dewar's Scotch, Exxon, Shell etc. I knew he was a heavy weight shooter and that he must be a great shooter. He asked me if I had every seen a CA (Communications Arts) magazine before, I lied and told him that I had and that I read it all the time. Where in fact, I actually only had seen one issue before, I actually bought it because of the photography featured in the issue. Joe noted that CA had recently featured him in the magazine, I asked Joe what the cover photograph was on the issue he was featured in. You see, back in the 1980's, CA used a photograph on the cover of the magazine from the photographer who was featured in the issue.
Joe described the photograph and I was floored! The one and only issue of CA I had every seen & owned was Joe's work. I bought that issue because, it was the first time I had seen "commercial photograph" as Art. What are the chances that seated before me is that same artist "photographer" that impressed me so much as to buy this one CA magazine. Crazy! Here is the CA magazine.
The day Joe was on my flight, I had my portfolio with me. My portfolio at the time consisted of Rocks & Trees, I was an Ansel Adams fan and shot only black and white scenics. I asked Joe about photography as a career, and weather or not you can make a living at it. I didn't know. He suggested that I work for a photographer to learn the business. I asked if I could go on an assignment with him to watch him work, he said that would be fine and asked that I call the studio in Houston to make arrangements.
Long story short, after about 2 months of assisting Joe on various assignments he ask me to work for him full time. I received a 3 month leave of absence from the airlines and moved to Houston. I worked for Joe for about a year and a half before leaving Houston and opening my business here in Denver back in 1983.
With my 60th birthday upon me, I wonder what future has in-store for me? Be open at all times, you just don't know what might happen! Peace out.