How often do you feel like you are busting your ass and gaining zero traction? How often do you feel like your work won’t be noticed? How often do you look at other people and wonder why they are traveling the world and you aren’t? How many of you think I’m a pretentious prick because I’m blogging from Dubai? Let me tell you a little story.
Six years ago I didn’t have a passport. Six years ago I was busting my ass trying to build my name as a photographer. I was doing a good job in my local market but I dreamed of seeing the world. I wanted to get out of North America and experience new cultures, eat new food, hear new music, and meet new people. It was painful reading posts from fellow photographers who were jet setting around the globe with a camera in hand and shooting and/or teaching in new and exciting places.
One day in 2008 I was going through my RSS reader and catching up on some blogs. David Hobby’s Strobist being one of those. My feed refreshed and my heart sank. I read this post about David spending a week in Dubai teaching at Gulf Photo Plus. He was teaching alongside amazing photographers in a city that was on my top three destinations bucket list; places I wanted to visit at some point in my life. My heart sank because I felt defeated for some reason. I felt like I was passed over. I felt like I was working hard and nobody noticed much. I wasn’t seeking fame or fortune but it seemed that really interesting opportunities were always happening for other people. I was jealous. I was envious. I was depressed. I had a good ol’ fashioned pity party.
Why Can't I Do Cool Stuff Too?
I got over it and kept going. Kept shooting. Kept working. Kept teaching. Kept blogging. Then one day, maybe three or four months later, I received an email from a guy named Mohamed Somji. Mohamed is the director of Gulf Photo Plus. He was writing to ask if I would be interested in flying out to Dubai to teach. David Hobby had given him my name. Most likely David was telling Mohamed about me right around the time I had my big pity party.
Fast forward a few years: I just got home from teaching at GPP for the fifth year in a row. Spring isn’t the same if I don’t go to Dubai. How pretentious does that sound? Quite. I get that. Track my life back five, ten, fifteen years, and you’ll see that one little step led to the next. That led to the next. On and on and it goes. That whole thousand-mile-journey-starts-with-the-first-step stuff.
Mohamed Somji (right) joins a football game in Marrakech.