It’s been about a week since new years and I am feeling like it is time to kick out a new blog post! I am going to forego the typical “let’s brag about all of the fantastic work that I did last year so you know that I am an important and famous photographer” type post. I feel that if you know me and what I have gone through since 2020 then you know that I am struggling with a lot and bragging about that one small job that I did last year is not going to do to much.
With that being said, what was I up to last year? I guess that you could say that I was taking a bit of time to find myself. That sounds way more cheesy than it needs to be but there is no other way to really describe it. Involuntary hiatus could be another way to describe it.
What I basically did was nothing all that important. I scaled back a lot of my photography projects and even dropped the ball on my podcast and blog. Something that if you used to check in here, you might have noticed that the last post was sometime in September. So yeah… no high class events or private school graduations here. Just mostly shots of the coastlines and pics from the window of my tent.
The truth of the matter is that I needed this break in order to face some harsh realities of my talent and technique. That means that I realized that I am not as good as I thought that I was. I expected National Geographic to come beating down my door because I take the exact same photos out my back window every month.
I stepped back and also looked at who I was becoming as well. I was getting angry about not getting the same jobs as other photographers. I was getting angry at those photographers for recommending me for jobs as well. I was angry at myself for not being talented enough to get any jobs and being too lazy to go out and find something better.
Years ago someone mocked me and basically called me a wannabe Jared Polin from FroKnowsPhoto. I took great offense to that at the time. Now, I see that to most I probably was a wannabe. If you look at the work of Roy Cruz and Dylan Goldby, then you can see what motivated photographers are doing in Korea. The reality was that I was not one of those motivated photographers, not even close.
If you follow my friend, Greg Samborski then you can also get an idea of what is possible to do IN Korea even when you don’t even live here anymore. Greg was able to fly in for a few months and book back to back gigs in Korea. Granted, he is not a landscape photographer and his work (and the others mentioned above) revolves mostly around people and events. I however, still felt the sting of jealousy when I heard how awesome 2022 was for everyone else.
For me, the last 2 years have been a struggle since my father died. We managed to get back home this past summer and it was bitter sweet. During my absence since the funeral, a lot of things of mine went missing when my Dad wasn’t there to keep an eye on my stuff in storage. So it was hard finding out that the first camera that I bought in Korea “mysteriously” disappeared after I brought it out of storage.
My head just wasn’t in the game anymore. It felt like I was chewing a piece of gum that has long lost it’s flavour and now my jaw was getting sore. I would wake up in the morning to go find a sunrise to shoot and question if it all really mattered or not. Was I just pretending to be a photographer? I honestly don’t know anymore.
Having to Swallow my Pride
Outside of photography, I had to struggle with the reality that I had to go back to teaching at a Hogwan (esl language schools). This marked the end of my experiment with “pro photography” and all that goes along with that. Years ago, I was riding high off a string of jobs that I got around 2017 to 2019. I dialed back my classes and went freelance. Then Corona hit and that went all to shit.
I avoided going back the the hogwans as long as I could, hoping that I would “catch a break” but nothing ever really happened. I reached out to friends and either got nothing in return or a dismissive “maybe try working at a factory?” which at first sounded like a potshot but in reality factory wages are now better than hogwan salaries and they get better meals.
Alas, after struggling to make money from business classes that either canceled or dropped out due to COVID-19 issues, I was broken and bitter. I had to take a few hogwan jobs to pay the bills and the trip back to Canada. I applied relentlessly to university positions around Ulsan and Busan. I even tried to get into the elite international schools but only received snotty replies or nothing in response.
I swallowed my pride and took jobs that offered wages that were equivalent or less than what I made in 2003. Sure, they were eager to hire me because they were getting a qualified teacher with a masters in Education but they were not eager to pay a wage befitting of those qualifications.
Looking Ahead to 2023
The year has just begun and it already feels different. I have accepted that this are not going to change unless I change first. Also that the reality of me becoming anything more than a hobby photographer has to be accepted. I simply do not have the skills, talent, or business savvy to hustle my way into something that I can sustain myself with.
That basically means that I will just go back to doing what I love with less pressure on myself. That is actually a blessing in disguise, if you look at it from that perspective. I get to shoot whatever I want and not really give a shit about if I am going to get hired or not.
Will this mean the end of the blog, website, and or podcast? Not at all. Fact is that without the pressure of trying to be the next Jared Polin, I can just do whatever it is that I want. If I produce nothing, who cares because I am not overly concerned with who reads this blog or not.
Again, I am no Ansel Adams or Steve McCurry. I am also not going to try and hold myself up to that level anymore. I was reading a post from a writer in Busan who had worked a lot with Nat Geo and I wished I could be like that. He just got offered a dream assignment in Japan and I felt that pang of jealousy flare up. However, there is no point. I don’t have the talent or the skill to get those jobs. So why beat myself up about it?
The bottomline here is that for 2023, I am going to just go back to what I have always done. Go back to what I was doing in 20213 or whatever because the wages here are the same anyway. I was happy then and that is really all that matters. I might as well just accept the way things are and move on and just be happy.
So that is that, here is hoping that I pop out so more content and if not click here for Jared’s latest posts.