Opportunity is the gateway to the experience that greatness requires.


9:39 a.m. - I've always enjoyed photography. Stealing a moment from the seconds, and then forcing the details into eternity. This morning as I was scrolling through my Instagram feed, I saw a photo that truly took my breath away. My feed consists of tattoo artists, botanists, a few government land management agencies, barbers that inspire me, but the favorite part of my feed are the photographers from National Geographic, as well as the accounts National Geographic puts out officially. The specific photo I'm referring to was put out by National Geographic. It was simple enough, an elderly Chinese woman with a hand that had been permanently stained a deep shade of blue due to all of the years of dying linens with indigo. The caption said that the picture was taken with an iPhone.

My mind exploded into my morning coffee. A photo published by National Geographic was taken on a cell phone. Now, maybe it's my awe and amazement from having worked for T-Mobile during the hype of the Motorola RAZR, and seeing how far technology has come in such a short amount of time, but I was inspired. A world of possibilities became immediately available in the time it took me to read 8 words.

I've mentioned it before how I narrowed down all options, and how the choices I forced myself to make deciding on a lifelong career had brought me to the doorsteps of photography and fashion, but what I hadn't mentioned is what my long term aspirations were for either life path. I don't think you can decide on a career by looking at the entry level, you really have to look at what 20 years down the line will potentially look like. Sure I love barbering, but eventually I want to own a barbershop and there are absolutely goals loftier than simply cutting hair all day. Photography had similar goals, but those goals were based on a different love, experiencing the world and time spent in seclusion.

National Geographic had always been placed high up on a pedestal in regards to the quality of their content, in addition to the amazing attention to detail their photographers have. The lighting, the composition, the framing. The ability to tell a story without using words. Pictures become a language that can be interpreted by all races and nationalities, and I wanted to tell as many stories the world would allow me to. The reason I chose not to pursue that route is because knowing myself, I would dedicate more of my time to being alone focusing on all the details of the world than I would spend working on my relationships. Choosing to become, and inevitably remain single, would have been a necessity of that decision to provide me the freedom of leaving on a whim for any type of assignment that would interest me. I know that there are people that can work as a team, but in that aspect of my life, I can't. I would have led a life of solidarity, mystery, and wonder. Willing sacrificing the love of my life is something I am unwilling to do.

But as I learn more about the parts of the fashion industry, the more opportunities come up for me to push myself in this other life that I thought I had to give up on. Today, I will be working on my first shoot as a photographer. I will be responsible for the selection of the location, guiding the models, creating the environment. I will have full control over the end result, which implies that I will be responsible for the end result.

Balls. Just.........balls. Take this statement how you want, I'm just taking it as balls.

When I was asked to do this project a few weeks ago, I was a little hesitant because not a lot of people take iPhone photography seriously. The stylist didn't have any reservations, so I went for it. After this morning, though, I got the necessary kick in the pants to realize that the only person doubting me is myself. If I would have said no to this opportunity because of my own doubts, I would have essentially been telling myself that the other life I was looking at was nothing more than a pipe dream. 

10:00 - Here we go. 

10:30 - And by here we go, I really mean Jade is still working on the models. It's going to be another few minutes.

11:45 - Well......there goes my morning lighting. It's okay, though, this is going to be fun. I'm just antsy and chomping at the bit for the opportunity to get out there.

12:10 - Lighting is going to be a bit more harsh, but who's to say that this can't get done. We're on our way.

12:26 - We arrive at the bottom of the canyon drive. I'm used to being the driver of a Scion XB with an amazing lack of blind spots, and I find myself in the back passenger seat of a car that makes me feel like I'm cramped inside of a coffin. I rolled down the window a number of times and literally put my entire torso outside of the window to scout out decent backdrops. I looked like a giant tattooed puppy. We wind up going out to a few different locations, and I honestly couldn't have asked for a better day. It was a little warm, but the sky was clear and the lighting was wonderful. 

2 hours and some sore feet later, there were 823 pictures in total. Now all I need to is go through all of them and find the pictures that meet my standards for potential. And then crop them.......and adjust lighting.......and do all of my post processing......by Tuesday.

Considering the two full days of work I have on Sunday and Monday, I think I may have bitten off a little more than I could chew. I spent about 3 hours total working on narrowing process, with a little bit of that being editing, but not nearly as much as I wanted to get done. I'm taking a nap so I don't pass out during The Green Inferno, tonight.


Maybe I'll have time to get some of these pictures done in between clients at school today. Oh, my optimism is so adorable.

After a full day on my feet, I only had about 30 minutes to dedicate to editing. I spend another 3 1/2 hours working on the final processing. 8:30 rolls around, and I'm finished. 2 hours of taking pictures, 7 hours of editing, 823 pictures whittled down to 68, of which only 6 will be submitted to the competition. 

I cannot stress how much fun that was for me. I alone doubted my talents, and I alone proved myself wrong. I'm not saying this is the best I will ever do, but god damn I'm proud of my effort.

It's midnight. I'm over photography for the evening. A warm bed is calling my name.

Chris BentleyComment