Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Sound of Silence - Warning! May contain whineyness

My life has been on a bit of an emotional roller coaster these past two weeks.

It all started with my cold. I don't know if that's just me but I always get more emotional when I am ill. I spontaneously start crying at that diaper commercial (and at the life insurance commercial. I love old people). Seeing my cats being affectionate with each other gives me goose bumps and watching a re-run of "The Bachelor" on TV makes me want to throw my water bottle at the TV set (but a lot of women in America feel this way about the bachelor right now).

Being in this fragile mental state, still no luck with the job search, missing my gals and boys back in NL (and Florida and LA and Barcelona and Austria) more than ever - it's been a tough time.

On top of that there has been this whole internal struggle going on inside my head since moving to Chicago. I have been wanting to be a photographer for a long time. I am not saying it's the only job I would enjoy but it is one of those few things I feel like I never get bored of doing. But Chicago is a financial center. What I always really, really wanted to be was a magazine photographer. I also feel that's what I am best at - portrait photography. I was thinking about becoming a wedding photographer but the working hours are horrible. You work weekends and evenings and pretty much all summer but get almost no work in the winter. Taking a holiday in the summer would mean a considerable lack of income but that would mean I would be confined to visit Europe in the winter - something I don't really want to do. On top of that - having a husband who has a day job - when would we see each other? Right now I am NOT working and I feel like I don't see him enough.

And on top of all of that - so many people want to be photographers and there are so many great photographers out there who didn't make it. How could I be successful when I am just now studying it and at the end of my studies I won't even get a fancy title like Bachelor of Arts or anything like that.

Anyway, realizing that my chances of becoming a photographer are very slim here I started thinking about alternatives. Maybe studying web design? Or Fashion merchandise? I am sure there ARE jobs out there I would enjoy.

Two weeks ago I was basically at a point were I had given up my dream of becoming a photographer completely. 

And then I saw these Annie Leibowitz for Vanity Fair photos online. To be honest it first caught my attention because Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen are in it and I love those two. But seeing these pictures reminded me of why I wanted to become a photographer. I thought to myself "Why am I not pursuing this? How could I ever just give up without even having given it ONE SHOT? THIS IS WHAT I WANT TO DO!".
It was almost a magical moment. I was still on Dayquil on that day so that might have had something to do with my euphoria but it did change something in me.

The same day I went on Craigslist - my preferred place for job searches. But when going through the job section instead of clicking on "admin/office" I clicked on "art / media / design". And there was a job ad for a photography job. It was for a beginner photographer and a chance to grow and be trained to be a certified photographer. And they didn't even ask for money (like so many of those ads do)! The ad was 4 days old and I was sure that the job was gone. The Chicago job market right now is like the Amsterdam housing market when I first moved to Holland. Anything that looks remotely ok will be gone within hours of being posted. Sometimes even before it gets posted.

I sent my application anyway. I got an email back the next morning - the job is still available and could I send some online samples of my work. In a frenzy I went and put a bunch of my pictures on Flickr and scanned in another whole bunch which I didn't have on the computer. This is how I created an online portfolio. I sent the link to the lady who I would find out was the manager of a baby photography studio and a professional photographer herself. This company is a business that specializes in taking pictures of new born babies in the hospital. You know, the ones that are being sent out to all the friends and family. 
Five minutes after I sent her the link she sent an email back telling me she wants to meet.
I had an interview with her the next day and she told me that I was one of hundredths of applicants - only 10 had made it to the interview. 

Now, I don't want to give you wrong hope here. The fact is that I had my interview on Thursday - she said she would get back to me on the weekend and I have not heard back from her. At this point I am actually pretty sure that I didn't get the job. The adrenaline from having my first job interview in the US and having it be for a job I actually really want has worn off and I can now see how she rushed me through the interview and didn't really ask all that many questions about me. This indicates to me that she wasn't convinced. 

A year ago at this time I was the one to interview people who wanted to work for ME. I know how it is. I know that if you want somebody to work for you, you'll ask them a lot of questions but if you decide that this person doesn't stand a chance than you will try and get over and done with as soon as possible.

Another indicator for me not getting this job is that the training is supposed to start tomorrow. If she really would want me she would have contacted me already. 

The weather is bad and I am feeling down in general but I am at peace with probably not getting this job. It was pretty amazing to be invited for an interview and being told that I do have some talent by a professional photographer. It also forced me to get some kind of online portfolio up. And looking at similar jobs made me see that I would profit enormously from taking classes in Photoshop. There are a whole lot of jobs out there for people who know how to use Photoshop well. 

So my plan is now - try and stay in a field you like to work in. That doesn't mean I will completely pass up the admin jobs but I will also not cut out the artsy jobs (or the artsy admin jobs), focus more on my photography studies and go take Photoshop classes and become a Photoshop bad ass.

If anybody is interested in seeing my online "portfolio", let me know and I will send it to you by email.

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