Growing up, there were only two things that I could see myself doing to earn a living. I was either going to become a lawyer or work on Wall Street.
I became a bond analyst, working at large financial institutions. Life was good! I learned something new every day, and the action was non-stop. There was always money to be made. While I didn't earn commissions, I did receive an incentive each time a trade was made.
In 2008, the world gasped as the markets came tumbling down. Things didn’t just slide incrementally. The entire market fell off a cliff. The fun and excitement of working in the financial markets had dissipated. Every day, another family was left homeless, or we watched their life savings dwindle away. People’s lives were changed in an instant, and not for the better.
The Beginning of the End
Stress was prevalent. Many days, my direct supervisor, would arrive at the office at least an hour after me, and yell at me for moving too slowly. It was like asking a brick wall why it wouldn’t move. There was no rhyme or reason to his logic, but I accepted it for what it was: stress due to the market turmoil.
Around that time, I had taken up photography. I picked up a camera to make pictures for sentimental purposes. It was a stress release, it took my mind away from the aggravation at work, and I enjoyed the pursuit of “great imagery.” I migrated from sports, to landscapes, to wildlife, and finally settled on portraits and headshots. It was quite a journey, but I found the niche that best suited me.
As my skills grew, so did my passion for the craft. I even found a new excitement in building something from scratch. I was getting paid for making pictures. That was pretty cool!
Making a Move
By 2012, the bond markets were dry as a bone. Traders were finding it difficult to stir up business, and firms were continuing to lay off employees. Many of us were wondering when the axe would fall on us. Sure enough, I was among those who received an exit interview.
My girlfriend (now my wife) suggested relocating to Pennsylvania. Perhaps there were job opportunities available for a guy like me. New York was a mess, and jobs were non-existent. I had a fledgling business, which wasn’t going to support me quite yet. I needed to make a move.
I was hired by a regional bank, with a decent reputation. Things were going well. I was earning a living, and my little business was still growing.
Gradually, things started to change at the bank. There was a strange air about the office. My boss was forced out, and a new fellow was brought in. He took zero interest in my work, and even changed my role altogether. Not only did I have little experience in the tasks he assigned to me, but I simply didn’t enjoy working with him.
After some push and pull, some profiling and political movement at the bank, I offered my resignation. Heart palpitations in exchange for a paycheck was not my idea of a career. The relief I felt after handing in my resignation was cathartic! I was finally free!
I jumped into my photography business with every ounce of energy and passion in my body.
Being new to the area presented a whole different set of challenges. A new business has the issue of earning clients. I was the new guy. Most folks in my area grew up together, whereas I am a transplant. That makes it a bit difficult. I needed to make inroads and meet people, lots of people. I was set on my path, and I wasn’t going to go down without a fight.
Today, I am the Lancaster Pennsylvania Commercial Headshot Specialist. I have moved away from finance altogether. My client base spans 5 states, and I have had the pleasure of meeting and befriending some of the most amazing and talented people on planet earth.
My days are longer and more demanding, but this is my business and my passion. I live on my own terms, and I am enjoying my life more now than ever before. I also have more flexibility in my schedule, so I can be involved in my kids’ activities.
Sometimes I miss the action of Wall Street. But, when I photograph a person who has issues with self-acceptance, and I am able to change how they feel about themselves, I am reminded that my passion has led me to my purpose: To help people see their own beauty, restore their self-confidence, and help position their personal brands to generate more revenue.
Life is awesome!