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New Beginnings: The Path from Cubicles and Cardboard

A few years ago, I came to terms with the fact that I was not a “works in a cubicle” type of fellow. I’m also a “prefers to not live in a cardboard box” type of fellow. I used to worry that feeding the creative part of me was too tall a task if I wanted to continue making enough money to feed the stomach part of me. I had worked at a corporate marketing job out of college and was doing well enough, but sensed that I wouldn’t be happy if I stayed over the long-haul. My ever-growing love for things creative, led me to an obsession with photography and once I picked up my first (real) camera, I knew how I wanted to spend my life. Though my decision to become a photographer was more or less, pre-determined, the path that I took was not.

After I managed to find my way out of the cubicle, I spent a few months getting my hands on every resource available in order to learn more about the craft of photography. In 2008 I joined Wonderful Machine with the goal of applying my passion for making pictures and turning it into a career. At the time, the company was moving away from a co-op model for local photographers and shifting towards what it is now: a marketing portal for some of the best photographers in the United States and beyond. In the beginning, the arrangement was simple: In return for being available to assist on shoots, I had access to all the resources, equipment, and staff knowledge that the company had to offer. I started honing my craft as much as possible, setting up shoots, working with new gear, and defining my own style. In the meantime, I became interested in the national business that Wonderful Machine was growing. It wasn’t long (just two months) before my enthusiasm for photography, my previous experience in the marketing world, and the fact that I was in the office until all hours of the night doing what I could to grow my own business, intrigued CEO/Photographer Bill Cramer enough to bring me on staff.

I spent the next few years putting my marketing knowledge to use for the company and for our photographers, making connections with art buyers over the phone and in person at agencies, magazines,and companies across the country. I also helped produce shoots with WM’s producer extraordinaire, Jess Dudley, and worked on close to 200 estimates for our photographers – quickly learning aspects to the business that would have taken me ten times as long to learn on my own. All the while my own photography continued to develop, in no small part due to what I learned from the business side of the company as well as being surrounded by talented photographers such as Bill Cramer. In fact, what I learned from my production and marketing role made me want to shoot more. Because there are only so many hours in the week, I realized that I was eventually going to have to make a choice, between the practical side and this exciting company that I felt as though I had a hand in growing, and the creative side and the high-risk, high-reward life of a professional photographer.

In the end, the creative side won out as I suppose was a forgone conclusion from the minute my then beautiful girlfriend and now even-beautifuller wife bought me my first camera. I realized that in order for me to be satisfied, I needed to take the final step and apply my passion and knowledge to grow my own company. But I can say with confidence that though the path from the cubicle took a slight detour for me, I am not sorry that I spent a single minute at Wonderful Machine. Yes, I learned so much about the craft and business of photography, but more importantly, I met a group of dedicated, talented people who share the same love that I do for an ever-changing artform, as well as brilliant photographers and creatives across the country who I would never have had the pleasure of knowing were it not for the Machine. So here’s to Wonderful Machine and here’s to the future-I wish us both a lifetime of success!

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