Wow. 2015 so far has been a wild ride. It has had its fair share of ups and downs, and I'd like to take a few moments to update everyone on what has been going on. This is going to be a wordy one, so please bear with me and at least skim through.
First: If you are new here to UNDEREXPOSED: Alternative Photography, welcome. I am just a pretty regular guy with a passion for taking photos of things that by most standards people wouldn't consider "normal". I try to provide the best content I can on a regular basis for all of you to see and enjoy. If this isn't your first time checking out the site or the blog, thank you for your support.
Second: As you can see from the screenshot above I am at week 31 of my proposed 52 rolls film project. This was designed with the idea that I would shoot a roll of film a week, for all of 2015. This project has grown beyond my wildest thoughts, and what I figured would be something I did and possibly struggled to complete has been the exact opposite. As of today I have shot 51 of my 52 roll goals. Even though the project is only on Week 30. This is mostly my fault as instead of numbering my "weeks" by roll, I in most cases, spread multiple roll weeks into their own entries. Meaning that I am well ahead of schedule. As of right now I have about 12 more rolls left in my fridge which puts me at both a loss of how to "finish" the project, and about 10 rolls short of having 52 entries (more on that in a bit). I'm going to be saying "Thanks" a lot during this peek behind the curtain, but I mean it none the less. if you haven't been following the updates up to this point please take a moment to check out the link to the blog here. And if you have, you know that for the last 9 months I have been producing weekly content for you all to view and enjoy. What would you as my audience like to see come of this project? Would you purchase a book for a reasonable price? Would you want prints? Please let me know. I have learned a lot about myself and my work (exactly what I wanted to do) and want to be able to continue moving forward.
Third: Because I had plans on doing the 52 rolls project, I wanted to take all of 2015 and have it be a "non commercial" year for me. What that means is, well, that's a longer story that I plan to delve into right now. At the end of 2013 I had the opportunity to leave my job at a well known computer company and take on a store manager position for what was proposed to me as a new concept that was going to take off. For all of 2014 I worked my ass off trying to build the business. But at the end of the year I found myself uninspired, frustrated, and tired after each day of working. I produced the least amount of work that I had completed since starting UNEX as a company, and while it wasn't "bad" work per se, it wasn't where I wanted to be. I felt that I was just going through the motions. I was just pressing the shutter and hoping something happened. I needed something to kickstart my creativity, and thus I came up with the concept of the 52 rolls project. 2015 started off with a new drive to make things, and of course, had and has been going on well. I wasn't planning on trying to monetize the project, I just wanted to have a year of doing personal work instead of paid gigs. And then I lost my job.
In March I was let go/resigned from my position as store manager, and suddenly was left trying to live on the money I had set aside (and credit cards...oh lord at the credit cards) until I found another job. My car needed repairs, and I was forced to beg and borrow money from family just to stay in Atlanta. In June I was offered a position where I had to take a significant pay cut, and am still living at a deficit every month because of that. I'm not complaining (much), things could be a lot worse (but they could also be a lot better). I started taking on odd paid gigs, smaller weddings, and just about everything I can to try and break even (you may remember this failed attempt at an advertisement I put into the world).
But throughout I have tried to separate my "art" from my "life".
Then the vet bills started coming. There is probably no doubt if you have been a fan of mine and specifically the 52 rolls project that I am a big fan of my cat. Well, truth be told she isn't so much my cat, as I am her human. But that's a whole other story. She starting having some issues about using her litter box, and in taking her to the vet (to the current tune of 400+ dollars) I found out that she needs a significant amount of dental work, and possible steroid treatments for the rest of her life. Right now I am scared of what that will cost, because I already am having a hard enough time paying the bills as is.
Now I know what you are thinking, "He's about to ask me for money", well yes. But not outright (not right this second anyway). I hate this current trend of "crowdfunding" that seems to be hitting the web. Everyone and their mother seems to be asking you for money, but instead of doing that alone I'd first ask a couple of things instead.
One of the things that I have been getting back to in an attempt to make a little extra money is getting back into shooting Zivity sets. Thankfully long time friend and model Hada Pixie stepped up and asked me to work with her (and a new friend-model Clockwork Calamity). At the time of this update we currently have 4 sets that are fresh and live, and a back log of a few other sets as well. If you can, and are a member of the site, please drop us a few votes. Each one of those nets me about $.30, and while that isn't a large amount. It's something. If you want to get a free 30 day trial to the site to see what it is all about. Please DM me on social media networks, or email me at info@UNEXPhotography.com
I am also available for more Zivity shoots, and will gladly work around my day to day schedule to collaborate with you. I am also making myself more available for other paid shoots as well. And if you are by chance a magazine that likes the quality of work I put out, please contact me as well. I'd love to get my work in the eyes of as many people as possible.
But it hasn't been all bad news. One of the positive things that has fallen in my lap is the recent collaboration with a local Atlanta band, Finite Automata. I was contacted by Dom and Scott from the band and asked to contribute photos for their upcoming tour press kit. Keep your eyes peeled for a look at those photos coming soon to the Extra blog.
Another thing I am thankful for is an opportunity that I have been provided by my current day job. As a part of my position I have the chance to purchase a new camera package at a significant discount. Since I am not sure if I can talk details I'll just say that even though I am stupid to even think about any expenditure of money, this investment could potentially set me up creatively for the foreseeable future. Barring an affordable medium format camera comes to market, or I suddenly find myself in the presence of a boatload of money.
So what does this all mean? What does the future hold for me as a photographer? And what am I asking you, dear reader, to do about it?
For short term goals I'd love to finish the 52rolls/year of film project. As I mentioned earlier I am about 10 rolls behind having enough to finish out the year. If I stick to only black and white film, I could purchase enough film to keep the project funded through the new year. This would be about $40. Even though it sounds like a little bit of money, it's something that is not really in the cards for me right now. Any donations that could go to my car repair/cat repair funds would also be beyond wonderful (for sake of argument let's call this around $5000 to get everything up to snuff on both).
In the medium term (is that even a thing?) I would appreciate it from the bottom of my heart if I could possible bribe all of you with some assistance to raise around $1500.00 for new camera equipment, and to replace the aging gear that I am currently using. This would allow me to create better quality work, work that I would not be ashamed to send out for publication or deliver to clients. I'd also love to continue/finish out my Self Censorship project as well as other projects that I have floating around in my concept book.
For the long term I see three goals that I would like to achieve. One is to raise enough capital to make the move full time to taking photographs, and be able to devote all of my time and energy into becoming self sufficient running my own business. As part of that plan part two would be to raise a small chunk of money, say around another $1500 in which to invest in my "brand". This money would go to promoting posts on social media networks in order to get more eyes on my work. (I hate that it comes to this, but sadly most of you will never see this if I posted it to Facebook alone.) I would also be able to spend some money in advertising both online as well as in the traditional sense (and invest money into my website and such). And finally the end goal is to raise enough money to get some sort of working studio space, so that I am not just working out of my apartment. I don't know how much that would even run– But I'll worry about crossing that bridge when it comes.
What am I offering in return? Well I can tell you for one thing, I don't want your money. I want your business, I want a CAREER. I want to use this chance to prove to you all that I am not just a one trick pony, and that the work I can do with support is so much more valuable than even I can comprehend right now. As an incentive to you, dear reader, I will be more than happy to offer discounted/free prints of work, or consider any donations made to the cause as payment/a deposit for future works. If you have an event, or would like some photos taken please contact me and lets make some magic happen.
Or if you just wish to donate funding or make purchases directly, I also won't complain. Any small bit helps out in a substantial way. I have a paypal account set up here, and have an Amazon Wish List set up as well (Hey, a boy can dream right?).
There is a long road ahead, and as you can probably piece together I am in need of serious assistance in order to make things happen. As much as I would love to do it all myself, I am in need of some help.
In summation, thank you all once again from the bottom of my heart of hearts for your continued support. I couldn't keep going without that support. I hope that the rest of the year is just as wonderful in a photographic sense as it has been. And I also want to extend a promise that I am not giving up, and I intend on putting every bit of spare energy into making the best work possible for you well into the future. Please continue support me by spreading my work around your social media pages, by viewing it yourself, by placing votes on sites like Zivity where I show my work, or however else you are able to help.
Until next time, keep living your dreams, keep checking back for more new content, and most importantly stay inspired.
September 16th, 2015