Photo Coleslaw


with 9 comments

My primary objectives right now are to breath and survive.   I’m at that point, 3 years in, when most sane people get out.  It’s the true test, are you crazy enough to go forward when a brontosaurus-sized neon sign is flashing “ABORT NOW – BECOME A TRUCK DRIVER!”  As photographer, Keith Carter, says, “You have to learn to embrace a life of uncertainty.”

So I gotta breathe in.  Stay the course.

Surviving the photo industry is one part vision, one part business and all heart.

Luckily this year has come with two revelations that I am finding helpful in this department.   The first is that getting a business plan onto paper is incredibly important.  It’s hard to stay the course, when you’re driving down the highway at 85 mph and thinking,

“What course?  There was a course?   Was it back there at mile marker 112 with the KFC?”

A written plan comes with a serious sense of serenity.

Secondly, involvement with a solid photo community cannot be valued highly enough.  People to get inspired with.  Give you an honest critique.  Remind you why the hell you left that great dental and 401K plan behind.   So this blog post comes with a huge thanks to everyone who is right there in the trenches with me.   To all my photo friends: your support is invaluable .

I’ve just posted a bunch of new photos in all of the categories on my website.  Check ’em out when you have a moment –

I’ll be here, surrending to the uncertainity, right on course.


Written by Spelman

01/07/2010 at 10:19 pm

9 Responses

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  1. Jennifer, I love the south portfolio. I really do think it captures a lot of what the south is like versus the isolated world a lot of people live in. I spend just over four years in South Carolina as a recruiter for the Air Force. I have seen homes with burlap cover windows, no insulation, outhouse bathrooms. People don’t see that reality, they see what is on TV. Just wanted to let you know I admire your work and the post.

    Ed Hamlin

    01/11/2010 at 2:47 pm

    • Ed, thanks for the comment. Exposure to the South was quite different than I expected. Truly is almost like going to another country. Strong accents and a tumultuous history interlaced with a lot of poverty and a strong sense of community. The work is still in progress, which gives me a good excuse to keep heading back there!


      01/11/2010 at 2:58 pm

  2. I feel like I am on that road going 85 and the bridge is out… I can’t stop, not sure what keeps me driving, knowing, hmmm….
    being told that danger is ahead, everywhere I turn there seems to be a sign, we are staying safe, can’t try anything new, we are closing this portion of the road, but I proceed, with caution, just keep on going…. What happens if there was never a bridge to begin with? I think I need to see the bridge for myself, I just can’t seem to find it. I wish there was a clearer map.
    Whoa.. enough of that.
    Thanks for the interesting thoughts… I enjoy your work as well as Santa Fe. I have been there twice. Changed my life.
    All the best in 2010, I hope to hear from you.

    Tom McKenzie

    01/12/2010 at 4:29 pm

    • Tom,
      Yup, I know that road well. What I’m learning is that it takes incredible focus to stay on it. But if you have it, it’s the best road to be on. Thanks for your comments and perspective – see you on the Photo Highway!


      01/12/2010 at 4:53 pm

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by guifreitag and Jono Warren, David W. Sumner. David W. Sumner said: "Surviving the photo industry is one part vision, one part business and all heart." #photocoleslaw […]

  4. Your writing is as good as your photography, which is a compliment to both. A unique and able voice is evident in each. Consider that when developing your business plan.

    Tim Keller

    01/17/2010 at 6:43 pm

  5. […] Spelman of Photo Coleslaw‘s most successful post, called Surrender, was aimed at emerging photographers. “One line from that piece, ‘Surviving the […]

  6. HI Jennifer,

    Great surrender post & quote- “One part vision, one part business, & all heart” Could not be more true. I’ve seen our business change in all sorts of ways, most for the better. There are days that a career change sounds better than a pina colada @ sunset in Maui, but you stay the coarse. Start each day with humor, surround yourself with your own cheerleaders, & remember the image(s) that made you so passionately fall in love with being behind the lens. Be smart about how you spend & take deep breaths. With camera in hand, you are as free as that truck driver, stopping at each point, & delivering what you were meant to deliver. Keep up the great work!

    Melissa Hennessy

    05/25/2010 at 7:09 am

    • Hi Melissa,
      Thanks for your poetic response – full of exactly the right kind of advice…..


      05/27/2010 at 11:43 am

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