My project about interviewing “people who made their dreams come true” is continuing and this time I had the pleasure to talk with Chris. Chris comes from from West Orange, NJ, U.S.A. he’s 23 years old, just graduated from university last may and he’s now a freelance photographer here in the USA, but he has also the drive to work abroad in Italy.
Here below you’ll find his story about how he made her dream become reality, his feelings about it and some of the shots taken by himself! 🙂
-Which is the dream/s you had since a long time (specify how much if you want) that actually became reality?
Though I’m still working on making this dream a true success, I have always wanted to work with photography. It is an incredibly difficult field to work in because there is so much competition, so much to learn, so much to invest, and so much time spend on this profession; you really have to want it.
-Did you follow any sort of plan (like setting goals, asking for help…) in order to achieve it/them?
For me, starting was the hardest part. It seems impossible to even consider making photography a career, but i’ve realized it’s all about making small steps, instead of giant leaps. I was always very optimistic when it came to my field, because if I was too hard on myself, I probably would have given up. While in school at Montclair State University, I studied film, and in the beginning I was so motivated and energetic about my career path. However, near my 3rd year of university, I was frustrated, unmotivated, and generally unhappy with the education and experience that I was getting from my school, so I decided to study abroad in Rome, Italy. There, I became more familiar with myself and the world around me. I felt very free and excited to try and fail new things. The first month there, I reached out to a student tour company, and I happen to land an internship which took me around parts of Europe to film and photograph students as they went on trips to different countries. Upon my return back to the states, I took my experience abroad and applied it to my life in the USA. However, I found out it was very hard to break into this world when you have only a little professional experience. One of the main reasons people succeed is that they put themselves out there in situations that they normally would not do. For example, when I returned to the states, I wanted to get into acting (because of my film background) so I emailed a headshot company in NYC, did the shoot, and the next thing I know I end up interning at this headshot studio for a year because I reached out to the photographer and he saw that I was very interested. Between this internship, working in a retail store, and going to school full-time, it was a very stressful time. But I decided to keep pushing myself and see if it all pays off. Next, after the internship I had in the NYC headshot studio, I decided to take a gamble and randomly email a model photographer who’s work I absolutely love. Again, I got extremely lucky and he emailed in about 10 mins saying he would love to meet with me for a chat, and again, I started working at another internship because I reached out. This internship taught me more than any school could ever teach me, and I’m very grateful to photographer Daniel Rosenthal for letting me work side by side with him on several shoots over a year. During this time, I decided to live on campus, and during this time is when I finally felt like I was doing something special with my career. I invested in a better camera, a $1000 light system, and decided to photograph people in my apartment. I was so happy doing this and it was the true beginning of my professional career. During this time, I met my wonderful girlfriend who was studying abroad in the USA from Italy. Having her there also pushed me to do great things and she always encouraged me that I could always do well. Thankfully, she still does now! After that semester, some extraordinary events occurred. When my family finally sold my grandfather’s house, I never thought that the man who bought it would send me on a new direction with my career. One day, my father asked me to come to the house. However, on this day I was not in a good mood at all, and I did not want to come and move stuff out of the house. But for some reason, I decided to go anyway. There, I met Justin Sachs (the man who purchased the house) and we quickly got into conversation. At one point in the conversation, he simply asked me “what do you do?”, to which I replied “I’m a photographer”. After that, he explained to me that he designs and builds luxury kitchens and different parts of homes and asked me if I wanted to begin photographing for him. After several shoots, I knew I was onto something. It was different from model photography, but it still gave me the same satisfaction to complete a shoot of these beautiful homes. After building up a decent portfolio, I happen to be on instagram quite a looking at other photographer’s work. One day, I saw a profile titled “the_real_houses_of_ig” and I decided to reach out to them and see how I could get photos posted on their instagram which has over 1.4 million followers. Moments later, I receive the most amazing email from the owner of the account asking If I am free to do shoots for her. It was quite a shock to me, and made me realize I am actually on a great path, and that my work means something.
-How did you feel when you realized you were actually living your dream?
While I don’t necessarily feel that I am living my dream, I feel that I am on the right path. After meeting with people who are so high above me I feel like I am living the beginning of my dream, and that things are slowly falling into place. Also, going to live with my girlfriend in Italy now and then has made me realize that everything I have done is connected in someway, and I am able to return to the place that gave me such motivation and be with a girl who makes my life very interesting. After visiting her in the summer, I was published in People Magazine, which I consider to be the biggest accomplishment of my career. It was again at that moment that I knew that something was in the making in my life. Returning back to Italy in November, I had secured 3 interviews with different companies that I had reached out to. Even though finding work abroad is proving to be a challenge, being able to be in a professional environment doing interviews abroad made me feel very fulfilled. I still have a long way to go until I am finally where I want to be, but things seem to make more sense now.
-Which was the toughest part during the journey to make this/these dream/s come true?
Trying to support my career. Being a photographer, traveling to Italy, and living in the USA is not cheap. I’ve worked so many low paying jobs in the beginning of my life and it has been very hard to afford all of the equipment required for being a photographer. Starting out is so hard, I can’t believe I have even come so far because there are so many points in the career path that you just want to quit. However, you have to just be optimistic and let things happen, take chances, and invest your money where you feel it’s right.
-Which is one suggestion you would give to anyone who has a dream like yours and would like to make it true?
REACH OUT! One of the biggest tips I can give is that you must reach out to people who are further along in your field. Let people know you exist, show them your work, and make connections with everyone who you feel will bring you up in life.
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