The First Turning Point in My Photography Career

finding your passion and your turning point in your career


I have had an exciting photography career with amazing projects, and I am thankful for all the growth I have experienced in video, photography, business skills, and creativity. Technology moves so fast these days. It’s fun, and at times it amazes me how quickly things change. How I operate my business today is much different than 25 years ago. Additionally, my creative interests have continued to evolve and grow as I explore the new ideas technology presents. It is like finding a shiny new shell on a beach walk - you have to pick it up.

Early Photography Career

I was recently asked what the turning points in my career were. It gave me the opportunity to reflect and become insightful about the turning points in my career, but also where I have been and where I plan on going.

I believe my first career turning point was about three years into my career as a photojournalist. I graduated from Northern Arizona University and immediately began working for the Flagstaff, AZ newspaper. My dream was to be a photojournalist and change the world with photo stories.

Within a year I moved to Lawrence, Kansas and searched for a full-time photojournalist job; but my more profound life dream has always been to own my own business. When I was unable to find a newspaper photography position, I decided to create my own business and actively promote myself to all the newspapers in Kansas and Missouri, in addition to national magazines.

Remember this was before the technology of the internet, cell phones or email. At that time being quickly connected to your clients meant getting a pager - cell phones were expensive and not at all mainstream yet.

I gave myself 3-months to be successful as a freelance photographer, which isn't enough time, though I was driven. I told myself, “If I can’t make a living as a photographer, I'll go back to being a Dominos pizza delivery person.” Now that was the best incentive for me to succeed!

As it turned out I was becoming a successful a freelance photographer and quickly began to make a living owning my own business. During the next few years, I was offered full-time photography positions, and I turned them down. I had manifested what I wanted in my life.

Corporate Photographer Next

A few years passed and I became less challenged. I was losing my passion for what I was doing every day. The art of photography didn't' have the luster I craved so deeply. I decided it was time for a change. I discovered an interest in becoming a corporate photographer, creatively sharing their brands through photos.

I liked the idea of travel, taking portraits of executives and using the photojournalistic style for corporate photography. When I began my photojournalism career, I knew nothing of lighting portraits on location. But at this time of transition, I discovered how much I genuinely enjoyed taking environmental portraits of executives within their own “habitat.”

I went to my photography processing lab and asked my colleagues who the best corporate photographer in Kansas City is. I knew that working with that person would be the fastest way to learn the ins-and-outs of being a corporate / commercial photographer. They immediately said, Ed Lallo. I had a successful photojournalist career, but I needed to reach out to a competitor to become a corporate photographer. I asked him if he would he be willing to take me on as an assistant. This turning point brought me a lot of learning:

Taking a risk to move away from photojournalism and possibly losing income.

I needed to set aside my ego as the lead photographer to become an assistant for the long-term gain.

We made a great team with a foundation on respect and learning.

I stayed open to learning from someone’s experience as a springboard for my career.

He became the creative coach I needed to step out of my comfort zone

He brought me on board, and I have much gratitude for his trust in me, and what he taught me. While I still accepted newspaper assignments, I continued to work with Ed. I was no longer focused on the short term of making money and taking assignments I was losing interest in. With Ed’s direction, I set long term goals and began making a steady income again. Ed’s mentoring and coaching was a huge turning point in my career.

Career Coaching Advice For Photographers

It can’t say it wasn’t scary, but he coached me through a way to find my passion again. My photography career has had many turning points that follow my passion, technology, and creative interests. This was my first. What are the turning points in your career? Maybe a Creative Coach could help you too?