Switching tracks

  • Aperture: f/4
  • Focal Length: 80mm
  • ISO: 400
  • Shutter: 1/125 sec
  • Camera: NIKON D1H

Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Life is constantly in a state of flux. That’s the way it’s supposed to be.

I hate change.

But change is healthy, and change is good. Or at least that’s the mantra I’m chanting to myself every morning as I choke down my coffee and begin the day.

This site has morphed into something I never intended. Something strangely wonderful at times, something deeply personal almost always. Being able to write, to confront my greatest sorrows and fears, has been incredibly cathartic if not hair-raisingly frightening. Some of my best work has been produced solely for you all, springing out of this crazy, stressful phenomenon known as photoblogging.

When I started out, I had no idea anyone else was even doing what I was attempting. I was trying to form a professional portfolio site, but I wanted the front page image to change each day. The only problem was that I wasn’t shooting a lot of new work. I was mired in a darkness so thick, I was barely shooting at all. I hadn’t written in years.

I posted a few pictures before stumbling across Photo Friday. Around the same time, I discovered the work of David at Chromasia. A day or two later, Alec found me, and the rest is history. It was a life-changing week, to say the least.

Since that time, I’ve written things I never thought I would write. Laid my soul bare in a way that I didn’t even know was possible (likethis, this, this, and this.) Somewhere along the way, I stopped writing for other people and started writing for myself. I lost some readers by doing that, and that’s okay.

But I strayed from my original intent, and that’s been haunting me for a while. The simple fact is that I am a freelancer. I derive 100 percent of my income from photography, and in this world, image is everything. I shoot editorial work most of the time, but you wouldn’t guess it from looking at this site. I’m available to shoot weddings and commercial work, but I don’t post much of that either. I post my personal work. The stuff that speaks to my soul.

That isn’t doing much for my bank account.

Hence the new Order a Print feature (ahem). There are other things in the works as well — things I’m not ready to divulge just yet.

The simple fact is that CloudyBright as a company MUST evolve or perish. The streets are filled with photographers who didn’t make it. I almost took a real job last week. A 9-5 job. In a factory filleting catfish. A 60-mile drive. For $7.50 an hour. It was the only job I saw in the paper that even remotely appealed to me, and then only because the mind-numbing tedium would likely generate a killer novel.

But the simple fact is, I’m not ready to give up yet. No, I don’t have health insurance. Yes, my bills far exceed my income. No, it’s not fun to eat crackers for lunch and spend Friday nights at home. It’s even less fun to guess which utility will be disconnected for the day or try to come up with a way to get enough gas money to shoot the measly $50 assignment I was lucky enough to snag. I don’t write too much about this stuff. It’s a bit of a downer.

For those of you who’ve made it this far, thank you. CloudyBright will undergo a necessary transition this week, and I hope you’ll all make it to the other side. The main domain must return to its original roots as a professional site. And the photoblog must take its rightful place under a subdomain. For a while, the new site will include a link to the photoblog. Eventually, that link will disappear and the two sites will go their separate ways. The blog will link to the pro site, but the pro site won’t do the same.

Am I ashamed of the words and images I’ve placed here? No. Of course not. But I need a better boundary between my work life and my personal life. I need the ability to have a bad day without worrying how a client might perceive that. As much as I’m opposed to “smiling like you mean it,” the bitter truth is that’s exactly what’s expected in the professional world. So I’ll smile.

I realize that changing the address of the site is going to break links all over the Internet and cause additional work for the fine people who have been nice enough to link to me. I apologize for that. I’ve spent months agonizing over the decision, and I think it’s time to move on. In the next few days, I’ll figure out what the blog address will be and I’ll post it here. In addition, I will send emails out so that hopefully everyone will find their way to the new address.

Meanwhile, anyone who wants to see/critique the new site is welcome to view it here. The about pages and the tearsheet pages still need work. Most everything else is finished.

If you have the time and feel inclined, please drop me a line and let me know what you think about the design, navigation, photos, etc. Is there something that doesn’t make sense? Are you having problems with the slideshows? Let me know. I’d far rather hear it from you guys now than lose a client over something I could have changed.

I might still fail. But at least this way, if I end up sifting through catfish guts at your friendly neighborhood sweatshop, I can console myself with the knowledge that I gave it my best effort. (Plus I can harbor dreams of writing the next great muckraker. Someone should warn the late Upton Sinclair before he rolls over in his grave.)

Music: Center of the Sun (Solar Stone’s ChillOut Remix) by Conjure One (lyrics)

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