photography

I'm Scared...

Hey guys,

A lot of you might know this already, especially if you follow me on Instagram, but over the past month, I’ve made some major life decisions. I recently quit my day job in Los Angeles, and moved in with a few of my friends in Seattle. Everything happened extremely fast, and I’ve been busy trying to get my life together ever since making that decision.

Let’s start with why I quit my job. As you guys should know, I was an Assistant Manager at a luxury apartment community in Los Angeles. It was in no way, shape, or form, my dream job. I wasn’t happy with my life there, but it paid the bills, and worked for the place I was in life. I had great benefits, I got a discount on my apartment, and I lived where I worked. On paper, everything was great, except the fact that I hated it.

The main reason I stayed there for so long was the fact that I got a discount on an apartment that was REALLY nice! It was in a great location in the valley, near tons of shopping and restaurants, and had amazing amenities like a free gym, and even two pools. Another reason I stayed was because I wanted to eventually become the Property Manager, since they get a FREE apartment, not just a discount.

The current Manager did her best to train me to make sure I was ready for whenever the time came that I would become the Manager, and we had a plan that whenever she left, I would be the one to take her place since I know the property so well.

Well, not to get into too much detail, but around the beginning of September, she had some things going on in her personal life which led her to need to move to a property in a different location. While this was surprising news, it was also great news since I knew I would be next in line as Manager (or so I thought).

When she notified the office that she would be transferring properties and would no longer be the Manager there, she also notified the team that a new manager will be taking over in her place, and that the new manager would be coming from another property to take over her place. The second she said that, my heart dropped. I had been working so hard to be the one to take her place, and out of nowhere she tells me that some random manager from another property will be taking over instead. She looked directly in my eyes as she made the announcement, and I was in shock.

After we had the meeting where she made the announcement, I rushed to my computer and drafted my resignation letter.

I know it might have been something I did based on emotion, but after feeling backstabbed, it made me really put things into perspective. Why was I fighting so hard for a promotion at a job that I really hated? I literally sat in an office for 3 years, working my ass off just to pay bills, and only did what I loved when it was convenient for my schedule. After realizing this, I figured that it was finally time that I took the leap to do photography full time.

Well, I know you might be thinking: “Well why not do photography full time in Los Angeles? You were in the perfect place to do it, and you already built a name for yourself there”.

See, while that might be true, I also didn’t really love Los Angeles. It’s a great place to make a name for yourself, but not only did I not love the city, I also didn’t love the people. Everyone there has this way of thinking that they are so much better than you, which results in little to no paid work. It’s also extremely competitive when it comes to working with agencies, which resulted in hardly any work from them, let alone paid work. I would have also needed to find a new place to live, and a part of me wanted to finally be away from my family.

I had a few friends that were looking for a roommate in Seattle, and figured it would be much easier to just move here and start fresh. The rent is cheaper, I can afford nicer place and still be paying less than if I was in LA, and it’s still a great market to be in for photography. So, I packed my things, got movers to store most of my big furniture, and I moved.

I’ve been here for a little over 2 weeks now, and I’ve already started making some big moves here in photography. I contacted a few agencies, and two already got back to me saying they’re interested in working. One already sent me a package, and I shot with one model so far, but I want to set up a few more test shoots so that I can get them to add me to their team. I’m still waiting to set things up with the other agency so that I can start shooting some of their new faces, but it’s taking a little longer with them for some reason.

So basically, how it works with agencies is that they send you a “package” of their new faces that need more shots for their portfolio, and you choose the ones you want to work with. It’s essentially a collaboration where the model and photographer work together to show off their skills. What I need to do is show the agency that I work well with different models, and can produce great work regardless of model or location. Once I prove myself and the agency is interested in working with me regularly, then we start talking about paid work. I’m in the stage where I’m shooting with different models, which is great for only being here 2 weeks, but I’m still pretty far away from getting paid to shoot with models.

All of that being said, I’m at the point where I’m running out of money, and need to figure out what I’m going to do to pay the bills. Luckily, I paid rent for November already, so I still have some time, but I just bought a car and needed to get insurance as well, which is only adding to my expenses. I also still have to pay the remaining balance for the moving company to bring my furniture from Los Angeles to Seattle this Saturday, and I need to buy lighting equipment for a home studio. When all is said and done, I’m going to be absolutely broke by the beginning of November, and for the first time in my life, I’m scared financially.

I’ve always had a secure job, and I’ve always had a way to pay my bills. Now, I have bills to pay, and I’m not quite sure how I’m going to pay them. I can easily apply for a day job here, but then that’ll put me right back to where I was in Los Angeles; working a job I don’t want to pay the bills. While it might be the most logical thing to do, I still want to wait a while before falling into that same trap again.

So what are my options? Well, I have to put my heart and soul into my work (as if I wasn’t already), and create such beautiful content that the agencies will have no choice but to hire me. Obviously, that would be the best case scenario, but it’s really hard to tell with agencies whether you’ll actually get hired or not. In addition to that, I’m thinking of maybe signing up for Uber or Lyft to make some extra money on the side during my off-days. The only issue I have with that is that I’ll be driving a TON with a new car, and will eventually have to worry about maintenance and miscellaneous repairs. I’m also going to be working a lot harder on my Patreon, providing content for people that truly want to support me. I’ve been neglecting it for a while, but it’s time that I started taking it more seriously.

I also have a little side hustle where I’m working on my own swimwear line. I know it’s totally out there, but it’s something that I think can make me some passive income on the side once I get everything sorted out. If you wanted to check it out, you can take a look at www.offtheclock.shop.

For some strange reason, I also want to start a twitch channel where I edit photos and chill with people that are interested in how I edit and which techniques I use. It might be a good way to connect to my audience a bit better.

I think I’m done ranting for now, but I definitely wanted to keep you guys in the loop since I’ve been missing for a while. If you have any other ideas, please leave me a comment! Trust me, I’m all ears…

Until next time,

Tristan

Dealing With Social Anxiety as a Photographer

Hey guys!

I’m back again with another blog post, and this time it’s going to be about something I’ve been struggling with all my life; Social Anxiety.

I’m sure a lot of you can relate, but I absolutely HATE social interactions, especially with people I’m not comfortable with. I’m not exactly sure what it is about being social that I despise so much, but it’s definitely been a struggle to deal with, especially as a photographer.

I’m not quite sure when it began, but I’m pretty sure it stems from my relationship with my father. When I was young, my parents had two totally different parenting styles. My mother was the nurturing, caring type, and always wanted me to have anything I wanted. If I asked for a toy, she would go out of her way to make sure that I got it. My father on the other hand, was more logical with the way he parented me. If I asked for something, he would tell me “no”, and make me work for it myself. In retrospect, this has definitely helped me in the long run, but as a result, I was scared to ask for things because I didn’t want to be told “no”.

On a deeper level, this affected me emotionally. It became a lot deeper than me being afraid to ask for material things, but it actually made me feel guilty for wanting them in the first place. This was detrimental to my confidence, and made me question whether it was even worth it to ask for what it was I truly wanted.

On the surface, it might not seem like such a big deal. If I wanted ice cream, I just simply wouldn’t ask for it, but fast forward a few years, and now I’m scared to ask a model if she’d like to shoot with me because I’m scared she will say “no”, and on an even deeper level, I’m scared to ask for love because I’m scared that I don’t deserve it.

Sadly, this is only one part of my social anxiety. The other part comes from my experience in boarding school. Growing up in The Bahamas, I was accustomed to speaking in our dialect, which is a very broken English. If you weren’t listening to me very closely, it would be hard to tell what I was saying because of the dialect, and even though this wasn’t a problem growing up in The Bahamas, it became something I had to spend a lot of time on when I went to boarding school in Florida. I would say things to my friends in boarding school, and have the whole group stop and look at me to try and figure out what it was I was saying. Even though this technically made me “cool” because everyone was so interested in how I spoke English, it was still something that I had to be very mindful of every time I decided to open my mouth.

The boarding school I went to was very “preppy”. Think Oxford style. You had to dress a certain way, carry yourself well, and most importantly, you were expected to speak well. This meant that every time I had a social interaction with either my friends or my teachers, I had to be extremely careful with which words I chose to use. Obviously I didn’t “have” to, but that’s certainly how it felt.

As a result, I’ve found that I much prefer texting over being on the phone, because I can choose my words carefully and don’t have to worry about being misunderstood. Speaking over the phone creates a certain anxiety because I’m being put on the spot. If someone asks a question, I not only have to think of the answer, but I have to think of how to put that answer in a way they can understand clearly.

Even worse, if I bumped into someone randomly, I had to carefully choose my words during small talk. Just to give you an example, if someone were to ask me how I was doing, my initial reaction would be to with “Eryting cool”, but this clearly isn’t the most professional way to respond, so I’d have to train myself to respond with “I’m doing well”. It might not seem like such a big deal, but when you’re having a long, drawn out conversation that you weren’t expecting, it can cause severe anxiety because I’m scared something will slip out.

To cope with this, I’ve created a rather obsessive system that seems over-the-top, but it works for me. I literally create conversations in my head with everyone that I think I might run into, and memorize questions and answers that I’ll either want to ask or answer. For example, if I’m on Instagram and notice that a friend of mine won an award at work, I’ll save this information so that if I ever run into them, I can say something along the lines of “Congratulations on that award!” This is a much simpler example than what actually goes on in my head, but it should give you an idea on how my brain works.

So the real question is, how does this social anxiety relate to my photography business, and how do I deal with it. We'll, let’s start off by saying it certainly isn’t easy. Every time my phone rings from an unknown number, my heart drops because I’m not sure who is on the other line. Is it a client looking to book me? Is it a model that wants to know when her photos are going to be ready? Is it an agency that’s following up on an email I sent them? All of these thoughts race through my head, making me stress about the situation before I even get to answering the phone. Then, once I do answer, if it’s a situation that totally caught me off-guard, and a client is asking a rather challenging question, I now have to come up with an answer, and put it into words that will come off as professional.

Then comes actually working with clients on location, which is always a struggle for me. Without fail, 2 hours before every shoot, I have a panic attack. What are we going to talk about for 2 hours? How am I going to get them to feel comfortable in front of the camera? Will we be able to connect on any subject? Will I be able to provide the quality photos they’re expecting from me? All of this races in my head, and I’d be lying if I said I weren’t wishing they would postpone last minute. As bad as it sounds, it’s the truth, and it’s something I deal with before every shoot.

I wish I knew how to get over the anxiety, because truth be told, I have met some truly amazing artists through photography. I’ve made so many lifelong friends through my passion, and it’s great that I have the opportunity to meet these people, even if it terrifies me. It’s just sad that even though I know how amazing these social interactions can be, they still scare me to death, and you know what? That’s totally fine. It’s something I’ve been dealing with for years, and I know I just have to suck it up and do what I have to.

Do you experience social anxiety? I’m curious to see if anyone else goes through this. It might make me feel better to know that I’m not alone in this regard. If this is something you do experience, please leave a comment on how you’ve dealt with it over the years. I’d love to get some advice or stories on your experience with it!

Until next time,

Tristan

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Opening Up...

Hey guys,

I know, I know, it's been a while, but words can't describe how busy I've been. Between my day job, photography, and just life, things have been PRETTY crazy! There's been quite a few highs, but also a few lows. Basically, there's been a TON of work for me, both at my day job, and with clients booking me for photography, and while that's been great, I still feel like I'm not where I'm supposed to be. It's hard to explain, and I usually keep these kinds of things bottled up, but I decided to turn to writing to get my feelings off my chest. That being said, I'm going to start blogging again, once a week, on not only my photography, but also my personal life.

This first blog post is going to focus on one main point that I just need to get off my chest. In short, I'm not happy.

Let's start from the beginning. Growing up in The Bahamas, you'd think I'd love my surroundings. When you think of The Bahamas, you think of the beautiful beaches, crystal clear waters and drinking pina coladas on the regular. While that might be true for people with an endless stream of money, people still need to work for a living, and from an early age, I knew that The Bahamas wasn't the place I wanted to live forever. In addition to that, The Bahamas (at the time) wasn't known for supporting the arts, and I knew that I wanted to be in a field that had to do with creativity, whether it be writing, videography, or photography.

I grew up on an island that was only 21x7 miles, which made everything feel very suffocating. Everyone knows everyone, and it just didn't feel like I had any privacy. If I was dating someone, literally everyone on the island knew, and if someone saw me talking to another girl by chance, they would run to my girlfriend and start drama. Suffering from social anxiety, this made things very hectic for me in my mind, and I knew I needed to get out.

I begged my parents to send me to boarding school in Florida, and when I was there, it became clear that I just really didn't want to be in The Bahamas anymore. The hardest part about being exposed to the "outside world" was the fact that I had to return to The Bahamas to start working. I studied and took the exam to get my real estate license, and once I got it, I started working for a luxury real estate broker. I knew this wasn't my calling, but this was when I started to make money outside working for the family, so I stuck with it.

The job itself was very draining, so I decided to take up a hobby in videography. I started to create comedic YouTube videos mocking Bahamian culture, and it blew up. Some of my videos were getting over 30,000 views, and people started treating me like a celebrity, crying when they met me etc. The whole thing was pretty crazy, but it was fun, so I stuck with it. I actually shared my YouTube channel with one of my close friends at the time, and together we took The Bahamas by storm.

It's so funny how even though I was having fun and getting all these YouTube views, I wasn't making any money from it. It was hard for me because I knew I wanted to create, but The Bahamas wasn't ready to support that kind of content in a way which I could make a living from, and it really started to get to me. A lot of my skits would involve me putting on a wig and mocking Bahamian women, which also led to a lot of death threats, and people accusing me of being gay. This made it harder for me to feel comfortable leaving my home, and over time, I was just over everything.

Fast forward a few years, and I just couldn't take it anymore. I needed to get off that island, and I couldn't find a better time to do it than right after a breakup with my girlfriend of 3 years. We broke up and about a week or two later I found out she was having a 'thing' with one of my friends, and I lost it. I packed my bags with my family, and we were off to LA.

When I first I moved here, my main goal was to find a job so that I can afford rent, but I knew I still wanted to be a creator of some sort. After landing a job as a furniture salesman, I decided to start my blog where I wrote about fashion, and started an exciting series where I interviewed my favorite models. Things really started to look up when I interviewed Amanda Cerny, who had about 6 million followers at the time of our interview. When she shared the interview, my blog blew up!

I started getting emails from models that wanted me to interview them, and things got exciting when I got to interview a model that was about to be signed with Sports Illustrated. I went through the motions and got all of my questions answered, and right when I was about to publish the interview, I got an email from Sports Illustrated saying I couldn't use the photos she sent me until they were published. This put a hold on publishing the interview, and it really got me thinking. I should be taking photos of the models I interviewed! That's essentially how I got into photography, and ever since I picked up a camera, I never wanted to put it down.

Whenever I had a long day at work, instead of coming home to relax and get in bed, I wanted to come home and study photography. I watched tons of YouTube videos, and studied my favorite photographers until I developed my own style. The thing about my style is that I edit photos based on how I'm feeling, and if you look at some of my previous work, you'll see that my style was very bright and colorful. I bring this up to point out that over the past few months, I noticed that my work has gotten very dark and moody, and even though this isn't a bad thing, it made me realize how I truly feel deep down.

Over the past few months, I realized that I'm not as happy as I was when I first moved to LA. All the excitement of being in a big city is gone, and my days are starting to feel repetitive. I landed a great job as an Assistant Manager at the luxury apartment community I live in, but the job itself is destroying a part of who I am. I like to think of myself as a kind, generous, and most of all, empathetic person. I always put myself in someone else's shoes to understand their point of view, and try my best to make sure they're happy. I guess this is how I cope with my unhappiness, feeding off of making other people happy. The reason I bring this up is because my job description requires me to be, well, an asshole.

My literal job description is to do things such as send people to evictions, send people to collections, and enforce the rules and policies of the community regardless of someone's personal situation. Some of the things I deal with on a daily basis are having resident come into my office and cry to me because they just got let go and have no way to pay rent, and I have to look at them in their eyes and tell them there's nothing I can do to help. I literally have to tell them that no matter what their story is, if their rent isn't paid by a certain date, I'm going to be filing for eviction, regardless of how this is going to affect their life, credit, or even children. 

One day I towed a car that didn't have the parking pass it needed to be parked there, and later on that day I had the owner come into my office crying saying that her daughter missed her speech therapy class because of this, and that she didn't have the money to pay the tow company for the ticket, all because her parking pass slipped off her dashboard when she parked. I had to look her in the face and pretty much say, "Oh well, you should have followed the rules".

Situations like this don't feel like much at the time, but when things like this happen on a daily basis, it starts to numb you. I'm becoming an asshole that I don't want to be, just because it's my job description, and I hate it. It's starting to affect my mental health, and I'm just not quite sure how much I can take.

To get my mind off of work, I've always turned to my photography, and now even that is starting to depress me. My severe hatred for my day job has given me motivation to make photography my primary source of income, but things just aren't happening the way I'd like them to, and it brings me down. It's hard to be in Los Angeles as a photographer and try to make a living, because there's simply too much competition, and it's not easy to accept. Everything is a "collab", and hardly anyone values your work enough to pay you because they know they only need to send a DM to another photographer and get to shoot for free. The whole system is very discouraging.

On top of that, I scroll Instagram and see so many photographers hustling and creating amazing art, which, in turn, makes me feel like I'm not successful enough, like I'm not good enough. It's gotten to the point where I start to get anxious when I open Instagram because I don't know if a post is going to trigger depression or envy. Something that I never thought I'd ever speak about (or write about in this case), is that fact that I've been having suicidal thoughts recently. Before you get worried, I would never do something like that because I know that there is too much of the world I want to see before I die, but that doesn't change the fact that the thoughts are there. A few weeks ago I had a photoshoot on a railroad, and as the train was approaching, I found myself thinking how easy it would be to just step in front of it as it flew by. This wasn't the first of these thoughts I've been having either, but now it's really starting to get bad.

All of this being said, I haven't been motivated to shoot as much as I used to, and life is just starting to seem like a downward spiral into some dark and depressing abyss, and I'm not quite sure how to cope with these emotions. This is why my recent work has been much darker than it used to, tapping into a part of me that I didn't even know was there until it was brought to my attention. One of my followers actually asked if everything was ok with me because they could tell through my work that something was up.

Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, I'm also tackling some debt that I've accumulated since moving to LA which is just extra weight on my shoulders that I really don't need right now. Over the years I've had to pay for Ubers to photoshoots, camera equipment, maintenance etc, and it's really added up. I'll write about this in more detail in another blog post, but the debt is what's stopping me from quitting my job and moving to another state where expenses are less expensive, because my job is safe and it pays the bills. This makes me feel trapped. I went from being trapped on a 21x7-mile island, to being trapped in a job I hate, and it honestly feels like there's no escape.

One of the things that really got to me was the fact that I felt like I had no one to talk to. Ever since I've moved to LA, I haven't really invested in any sort of friendships. Don't get me wrong, I made a LOT of friends here, I just never allowed myself to open up to the point where I can go to someone about these kinds of things, and it's really starting to bite me in the ass. That being said, I've made it a point to try and get myself out there more, accepting invitations to parties, and even starting to date again, which honestly feels a bit foreign to me. After my last few relationships, it's been extremely hard for me to really open up to someone, and be vulnerable. A part of it has to do with trust issues, but I think it mainly stems from me not being able to handle another heartbreak right now. That would be the thing to really push me over the edge, and it's just something I'm not prepared to handle, but I'm still trying.

Going in to this blog post, I was only writing it because a lot of my followers were genuinely interested about my personal life, but after putting my feelings into words, I think I'm going to make this an ongoing thing. I want to document my progress from this depressed state of mind to whatever state of mind the future holds. I want to turn to writing as a way to get things off my chest, and I want to document my highs and my lows. I'll be blogging about my personal life, and also about photography. I want to make this my main source to showcase my work, gravitating further and further away from Instagram. If you want to tag along for the journey, feel free to subscribe below.

Until next time,

Tristan

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