a long and distinct period of history.
It’s an end of an era. Isn’t that what they say? Whoever they are.
Okay, okay. Seven years isn’t a long time in the big picture of the history of the universe. But in my life, seven years is a long-ass amount of time – egad, almost 25%! It’s a miracle that I made it through three years of university to earn my Bachelor’s without getting bored and leaving, and that was less than half that amount of time.
It’s 2013. I was a nobody, recently graduated from college. I sent an email that started a conversation that would set the course of my photography career for almost 7 years.
The email was to Paleo Magazine, asking if they might be interested in contributions of my CrossFit photography for fitness-related articles. At the time, I believed that Paleo when hand-in-hand with CrossFit, because that was where my own introduction took place.
The editor responded, kindly declining my proposal, but asked – do I do food photography? They were just about to publish their first cookbook.
Of course! I can do anything and everything. I was proud that I wasn’t a specialist in any one thing, but could carry my creative vision over to every subject in life.
So I agreed, having no idea what my time and work was worth, and so began our working relationship.
I remember my first photo submission clearly, because I had to reshoot it. I took a super detailed photograph of some kind of homemade jerky as it baked in the oven. It sticks out clearly, because there was a trial period to see if my work hit the standard they were looking for. They’d tested other photographers, and as the editor explained, even he could take better pictures than they had provided him with.
So I reshoot the homemade jerky recipe, and hit a home run. In what felt like overnight, I transformed into not just a food photographer, but a chef and a food stylist.
It wasn’t exactly new territory because I had taken a specific food photography course at university. But working at a high-end commercial/advertising level, we had a food stylist on hand for our shoots. And we were taught to expect multiple hands on any significant food photography job.
And here I was, doing it all. I’m still not sure why, but somehow, styling food was something that came naturally to me.
Fast forward to 2019, and my decision not to renew my annual contract with Paleo Magazine. Because…
Someone out there is living the life of your dreams.
Truth be told, it’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed photographing food.
I’ve kept holding onto the recipe photography work because I felt like I should enjoy doing it. I thought – if only I had a better attitude about it, I would enjoy it. Because damnit; I should.
Eventually, I connected the dots.
I kept doing the work because whenever I told people what I did, each person’s eyes would light up in wonder. To them, it sounded like a dream job.
And eventually, I realized… yes, it is a dream job.
It’s someone’s dream job.
But it isn’t mine.
It’s the same as with any job. If you’re dragging your ass half-heartedly through whatever work you’re doing, there’s probably someone out there who would be ecstatic to be in your place.
I wanted to have Plan B in place before I stopped doing the work entirely. I wanted a safety net. A smooth transition into work with another client.
Well, in a way, I did. That other client is me, and the project is something that I’ve been working on for months… Nej, years. And it’s continued to sit, incomplete, because I keep having to drop my attention to focus on other things.
But I wanted something bigger than me. More important than me. Some external validation that my work was needed, that someone saw my value and expertise. That I felt “hired.” You know, like a real life adult.
I didn’t end up having that Plan B ready. More often that not, it turns out that when we are taking risks to change our life,
We need to take the leap of faith before we have the solution in place.
It’s scary as fuck, but it’s the only way.
I had to trust that the Universe had my back. By having the courage to walk away from Plan A, work that was predictable but not fulfilling my purpose, I would show the Universe that I was serious about changing my life and doing something different.
I had to trust that, by letting go of someone else’s dream job, I would open the door and allow space to let my own dream job into my life.
When I focused on the projects my heart felt connected to, I noticed things would start happening. I would make an important contact, someone would buy a print, or I would get a tentative job offer.
What does this mean for the future?
I’ll keep cooking and photographing food, but it will be entirely on my terms; and if not, then there will be a team of people involved. There is just something about cooking all alone in a kitchen that doesn’t light me up.
I’ll continue writing for Paleo Magazine when it feels right, and I have an interesting story that I want to share with a larger audience.
And most importantly… I’ll be photographing and telling stories about food in a bigger way. I’ve been dreaming of some travel-food hybrid projects for a while, and this separation will allow me to pursue those more time-consuming dreams.
There is so much waiting for me on the horizon. And now I have the time and space to chase it.
If you’re waiting for the perfect moment to change your life, here’s your reminder:
There is no perfect moment.
Recipes: Bison Chili-Topped Sweet Potato Fries & No-Bake Chocolate Almond Coconut Fig Bars by Beth Lipton.
Recipes: Double Chocolate Donuts & Paleo Apple-Cinnamon Granola by Elizah Munroe of The Wholesome Foodie.