It’s that time of year again, the arbitrary orbital location where we increment the year counter and reset the month counter back to 1. Why the hell don’t we start at 0 like a sane species? Regardless, it’s time for a “look how great I am” post. They are popping up on Instagram and Facebook and probably other places, so I’ll get in the swing of things…
And then things went to shit…
I’m going to inject a little reality into the “look how great I and my life are” blog post. The regularly scheduled blog post has been delayed in favor of a little honesty (at least for a few paragraphs).
2018 (and 2017 in fact) was in many ways pretty shit. National (and international) leadership idiot-fuck-tardery-xenophomic-hate-mongering-facism aside, my personal life took a few hits…
Business Was Down, But Returning and Refocused
We (I think I can safely speak for Josh here too) are immensely grateful to our customers. We love making photos. Those that were able to patronize us, to buy our service and skill, helped us (and our families) eat while doing something we both love doing. We can’t thank you enough!
Business was down. It started in 2017 and got a little better in 2018. We survived, but things got tight. This is another thing you aren’t suppose to say or tell people because in our country you are only allowed to be successful, or ignored. But, I think it is important to acknowledge the issues.
We make photos. Those photos get used for advertising and to memorialize special events in people’s lives (weddings in particular). Both of those are important, but no-where near as important as say eating, and making sure rent is paid. They are discretionary and luxury items. When people feel insecure, they tend to stop spending on discretionary things and that is in part what happened in 2017 and 2018.
Like so many things in life, a problem led to rearranging things and a better state in the end. I started shooting less (see below), and really got focused on our web presences and on teaching. That is a ton of work when we have 3 independent sites: one for weddings, one for commercial and automotive photography and one for education and photography workshops. 1 blog each a week means 3 blogs a week for us.
I’m writing a lot more as a result. And, in some cases (1, 2, 3, …) that is a lot of fun. In other cases, it is pretty much drudgery. I love taking great wedding pictures, but what do you say about the 20th wedding you’ve blogged in the last 20 weeks? Add to that the fact that the purpose is SEO as much as enjoyable reading and it’s tough.
The result of all that hard work is that in the second half of 2018 we got a lot more inquiries of a higher quality than we had been getting, including some pretty nice commercial photography opportunities.
The Break In
Right in the middle of my move this Sept (again, see below), we got broken into. When the dust settled, we lost about $10k worth of gear, mostly AzulOx video gear and our photo printer. My wife and I have also suffered check fraud and identity theft as a result. Fun Times!
The real kick in the nuts is that we are pretty sure it was an “inside job” (targeting our renter, not us in fact, we were just collateral damage). But all the “we are sure” in the world won’t allow the police to act. That isn’t a bad thing necessarily, but it does suck that we get left out in the cold while they sit pretty with our gear.
The net result is that Josh and I have decided to stop worry about video as a product, which has helped our focus. The break in might be an expensive net positive. We love a good wedding video, but it has always played second fiddle to photography for us (everyone has their first love). Wedding videos are a TON of work to do well.
Taking Photos, Not Getting Paid
I’m pretty lucky to have a partner like Josh. Besides his understanding about the theft (which mostly hit AzulOx and not me personally), we’ve shifted the business. He’s doing most of the paid photography work. Partially this was because Adrian got a job in San Diego and we moved this summer. Partially it is because we’ve had a lower volume of work and I’ve focused on marketing and back-room management more.
It also allowed me to focus on teaching. I LOVE teaching photography. I love putting on workshops. The new order involves me supporting Josh’s shooting, shooting for myself and working to facilitate more teaching for both of us.
If you’ve been waiting for some pretty pictures, you are now at the right section. I’ve been shooting a lot, but most of it has been for myself or to market things I want to teach.
More photos are below at the end of the post.
2019 is going to be a big year for me if it all goes well. I’ve got 4 destination workshops on the calendar already and I’m working on adding more. I’ve also got a slew of small workshops on the calendar, all via Precision Camera. The return trips away from San Diego are annoying but at least I get to teach. Interested? See my schedule there: http://azlx.li/andrewclasses.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Precision and the folks there that have allowed me to go all in teaching. They’ve been supportive and encouraging through all of this. Without them, I’m not sure what I’d be doing.
Moving Sucks, but San Diego
The break in occurred right in the middle of packing the house for a cross country move to San Diego. I’d been out here before (the move was staged over a couple of trips), but taking the house from lived in to empty and ready to rent was a huge amount of work.
But, then I’m in San Diego. I’d be lying if I said I knew how good it would be. San Diego has just about everything I want: lots of supply places – everything you could want from exotic hardwood to electronics to … well, just pick something – there is a specialty shop for it. And, they are all approximately 10 minutes from our house.
Did I mention the diving? What about the food? Seriously, San Diego is on par with Houston for great stuff and I think Houston is better than just about anywhere else I’ve ever visited (including non-sense like New York). San Diego is a port city, and a working city, with huge variety and an accommodating attitude that I haven’t run into anywhere else.
It makes the price of rent and gas worth it…
Late in 2017, I FINALLY bought an underwater housing for my camera. 2018 was the year I started actively using it, some with Darin in Lake Travis and the Gulf of Mexico, but a lot in the Pacific off of La Jolla Shores.
Just Some Pretty Photos
I did do a little paid work this year, but also a lot of stuff for me. Some of it was travel photography, some of it was wildlife photography. Some of it was lifestyle photography. I even did some automotive photography.
Here are some of the photos.