When I started my business five years ago (Happy Anniversary to me as of March 1st!) I did it with no capital and no clients. I really didn’t have solid grounding until mid 2014. It was a rough ride (and it still can be!) but I stuck with it. Like all things you have to walk before you run. As for me, I’m definitely a late bloomer. And as much as I want to be at that next level I know it takes time. Currently, work is extremely busy and I cater to a wide variety of clients. Do I take jobs that I may necessarily want to take? Sure (cashing checks brother). Do I take on gigs that I love – Of course I do. I’m lucky to have a network of repeat clientele that can count on my work. When you’re a freelancer – establishing those relationships is important. It’s also important to know your limitations and not to stretch yourself too thin that you freak out and can’t get any work done. It happens. Freelancing is an interesting thing. You’re basically on your own doing your thing with your skillset. Now, in the grand scheme of things, there are lots of people who can probably do what you do but you have to believe in your work enough that you can keep getting clients and build your craft. Study the folks that you like who are deeper in your industry. They made it work, right? Why can’t you? You don’t have to copy someone but you should learn different approaches and add them to your own. There are tons of things that go into being a freelancer and guess what – we don’t have it easy. We WANT to have it easy and that’s why freelancers work so hard. The grind can be tough and frustrating but the rewards outweigh the tough times. I can go on with motivational phrases and quotes from “influencers” or whatever but at the end of the day – all those quotes DO mean something. BUT so does saying it takes time for something to click but when it does get ready for the next level. Stick to it!
See what I did there with the watches? (Time is what I’m implying)
We all have dreams. Some of us follow those dreams. Some of us don’t. That’s a fact. If you ever wanted to be an actor, model, or entertainer and decided to quit your day job to pursue your dream full time then more power to you. That one solitary spark of ambition already sets you apart from the pack. There are tons of great resources out there for a young actor,model or musician to get their foot in the door and many great websites, podcasts, blogs to steer you in the right direction. However, the one thing anyone breaking into the entertainment industry needs is a good headshot. If you’re a business person, lawyer, accountant, ad exec, you should get headshots done out of necessity because in a world that is getting faster paced – people need to see who you are. It’s a great way for people to see your “game face!”
But Why, Rich?
Headshots help. Why? Well, there are a thousand and million reasons. They show casting agents that you are serious about putting your face out there. They are a great way to get attention to your social profiles (which ever one you use), and they are a tool to get you where you need to go. Don’t think of headshots as a luxury. Think of them as a vital part of your process to fulfilling your dream. YOU are your brand. They are also a great add on to your website, which you should have regardless of what field you’re in. If you have founded a niche company and want folks to get to know you a bit with a personal touch then add a photo to your “about” page. Investing in professional photography for your personal headshot goes a long way in this day and age. Please don’t use wedding photos or selfies or shady iphone pictures! We live in the future and everything is a click or swipe away. BOOM! You need that image to have an impact that people will remember.
Once you have a photo or set of photos; those images will be your go to for a surprising number of connections. If you subscribe to a site like helpareporter.com where writers looking to interview you for a specific topic will require a headshot. That means don’t send them the photo of you from Halloween that you think looks sexy. It means send them a professional looking photo that you have on deck because you invested in yourself. What do headshots mean for business? It means clients can attach a face to brand. What do headshots mean for an aspiring actor or model? It means they now have a way to communicate their money maker to interested parties.
Put Yourself Out There
If you’re starting your entertainment career, leaving an old job to start your business, or even if you just want some photos to reflect yourself to others then I suggest getting some professional headshots done. It’s part of the experience of going out on your own and saying “Here I am.” It can be daunting. I get it. Not everyone likes photos. But, that’s part of the fun in life – the unknown. And like that Nike man says “JUST DO IT.”
Don’t lose your cool, kid. Keep it together.
Being a full time freelancer is tough to begin with. If you’re a full time freelancer in NYC it can be downright mortifying sometimes. Besides avoiding shady clients, net30 paychecks, and pricing yourself correctly, you are dealing with an over saturation of freelancers who could be competing for the same gigs you’re going for. As a photographer – we’re at times a dime a dozen in this city and that can be broken up into several categories depending on exactly what you’re shooting.
There will always be ups and downs and that’s a part of life. But coming back from those downs can be a bit harder to deal with. It can be a blow to your confidence when the work you do is met with either criticism or if even worse a gig ends that’s beyond your control. You would have to pick up the pieces and move on. If you’re freelancing full time and working hard then there is no reason that another door shouldn’t open. It may not happen over night but it will and you’ll get your groove back. But until then how do you stay upbeat? I’ll tell you:
Hone your craft
If you’re met with extra downtime because gigs fell through then use that time to perfect what got you those gigs in the first place. If I have downtime I look back on my past work and see how I can improve upon my style going into the future. Work hard at perfecting your skill.
Take Care of Yourself
It’s easy to fall into a funk and self medicate with food or candy or drugs or booze. Tying one on is all well and good but don’t let it spill over into a week long bender because you’re depressed. Instead think about ways you can improve yourself. Take up something physical and monitor what you eat. It goes a long way with preserving your mental health.
Know Your Worth
If one or two gigs fall through or your phone doesn’t ring for a week – it’s not the end of the world. There are peaks and valleys to freelancing and yes the feast or famine saying can apply. If you have experienced success and can look back and see what you’ve accomplished and who you have connected with that see the good work you do then you should tell yourself it’s going to be ok – I’m worth it – and better things will come my way. Losing one gig doesn’t mean that they’ll all fall through.
Don’t Get Trapped In Your Own Brain.
Often our minds are our own worst enemy. Those thoughts that keep you up at night can spiral out of control and they could make you lose control over your anxiety or emotions – which can be bad for business. Take a second and meditate. Take a step back and realize that there are worse problems out there than whatever is going on in your brain. It’s tough not to jump to conclusions about your path but taking each day as it comes helps big time. It also makes you a better freelancers because you can adapt to more situations.
When faced with a dilemma one of the best things you can do for yourself is decompress and look at it from another point of view. As freelancers we put the biggest pressure on ourselves and are our own worst critic but we also have to know when to take a break and just be a person and not a work a holic. If you’ve suddenly gotten a gap in your calendar take the time to do the personal things you wanted to catch up on. Read a book, watch your favorite shows, buy some new shoes, or hit a new restaurant. You’ll feel better when your brain and body aren’t under the pressure you put on yourself – even if it ends up being just one day.
Be proud of who you are and what you can accomplish. Don’t ever give up the pursuit of your dreams.
I was always a big guy. I was a big kid and I became a big adult. I was always very proud of being big. I never had any confidence issues or wished I looked a certain way. That being said in the back of my mind I thought a better lifestyle, routine fitness, and a slimmer body were not within my reach, which meant I didn’t care and I was happy to indulge in the things that packed weight on my body.
It wasn’t until June of this year when I realized how completely unaware I was about anything health related or fitness related. At 33 years old, 6’3″ and weighing a tad over 290 pounds I decided to get a check up. I haven’t been to the doctor in ages (ages means about eight years) and I figured what’s the harm? I’m healthy! I know my body! (and a slew of things that later on I would come to know as excuses) I got a call about a week later to come in and get my blood test results. How bad could it be? I was a rockin’ dude with a rockin’ attitude! Clearly I was delusional as my doctor rattled off cold facts about my body. I had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, was obese (what an ugly word) , and the nail in the coffin was when he sat me down and told me I had Type 2 Diabetes. That last part took me for a loop and rocked me out of my brain a bit. Type 2 Diabetes? I’m not THAT fat I thought. I took a minute to process the news and collected myself as opposed to yelling, getting mad, or killing the messenger so to speak. He did his job and told me that I had a disease. He gave me the option to either take a pill that would help with the condition (more of a band aid) or try and reverse it by losing at least 30 pounds. At that moment I sucked it up and opted for the latter. I asked him what could have caused it. Was it drinking? I didn’t really have a sweet tooth for cakes and pies. I was confused. I told my doctor I drink juice and eat fruit like they are going out of style and he pretty much said “No wonder you have diabetes.” He t old me to come back in three months for a followup and to try and lose as much weight as possible.
You can do this, Rich. I told myself. You can fuckin’ get off your ass and do this. Put in the work and get the results. After having a cry to my wife in the parking lot of Rite Aid over the phone while telling her the news (I felt awful in part about the state my body was in but the fact that I felt like I betrayed my wife by not being healthy made me pretty upset) She was my rock in that moment and assured me that together we can fix the diagnosis even though at that moment I wanted nothing more than to hit Burger King and get a double whopper (to be comforted and to go along with the attitude that got me there in the first place – fuck it – who cares – just eat it) I didn’t end up getting Burger King. Instead I went home, did my research, and came up with a game plan. For the next two weeks I started a diet and exercise program adhering to what were foods that diabetics can eat and should avoid. I cut out sugar and carbs completely along with fruit, juice, candy, chocolate bars, fast food, or anything processed. I became a calorie counter and label reader. I cut out coffee, vitamin waters, gatorade, or anything unnatural. My goal after three months was not only to lose 30 pounds but to walk into my doctor’s office with a 40 pound weight loss. I took up running pretty hardcore and would run by his office every single day (still do) and mentally say “I’ll show you!” (I cleaned up the language there) even though I knew it wasn’t his fault. I just needed something else to direct my emotions to. I would run every day and currently do between 3 and 4 miles a day. 5 Miles on a good day. I’m addicted to running and run around my neighborhood like a maniac every morning. My playlist is epic. It’s a combination of rockin’ metal tunes and more rockin’ metal tunes that are extremely positive and motivating (ask me about it)
Three months later I walked into my Doctor’s office 40 pounds lighter (fuck yea) and a whole lot peppier. He congratulated me on the weight loss and said the blood test will hopefully reflect the physical change. I knew I wasn’t out of the woods yet and had another week to go before the results were in. My blood pressure was perfect, which was a good sign. A week later I got the call that my levels looked good and that I was no longer in the diabetic realm. I had overcome my diagnosis from three months prior, lost a ton of weight, and had a better outlook on life. Suck it diabetes.
Now just imagine if I didn’t go to the doctor.
Through this process of getting healthy and staying healthy (the hardest part) I became an extremely positive guy. I was always positive and energetic but this experience took it to the next level. I have become irritating in my positivity and want everyone I know to become that version of themselves that they never knew existed. If I could do it so could anyone. All it took was will power and determination. Those are two things that are free and inside us all. We can do anything we set our minds to. We can beat diseases. We can become better. Even if you feel fine I encourage you to go to your doctor, get a check up, get a blood test. You could be living obliviously drinking lemonade by the gallon and not realize what you’re doing to yourself. Health matters. It matters to you and to the people around you. Be big. Be little. As long as you’re healthy and positive that’s really all that matters. I discovered things about myself, my psychology, and my physiology that I never knew about and that’s huge. This whole process gave me peace of mind and I will continue down a healthy path and help and support anyone who needs it. I’m not a certified personal trainer but I’m a good listener and motivator.
Unfortunately Type 2 Diabetes is the most common disease facing this country. The good news is that it’s reversible. Take the news of a diagnosis and turn it into a positive by creating a new life for yourself. Take the opportunity to unlock that healthy being inside you. You can do it! Realize your self worth and get out there for the better.
I’m still losing weight and wanted to write this post after losing 50 pounds (I’m about a pound shy but who cares?) Here is a before and after. The before is taken earlier this year (shot by Michael Benabib) where I was about 295 and a photo I took in my home studio at 241 (11/18). Help me spread love and positivity and encourage anyone you know to turn their life around and get healthy. Be body positive and health positive.