2018: What the Hell Just Happened? In a Good Way.

I feel like over the course of the last few months, every blog I’ve written has started by talking about how much I dislike blogging. Well, nothing has changed, but I’m writing this now, not only because I was long overdue for a blog post, but because it’s also New Years Eve, which obviously means it’s time to get needlessly reflective and sentimental.

I don’t have any grand, overarching observations to make other than I did a lot of things this year (in photography and in life) that I hadn’t done before. OR did things I had done before, but did them better. And, for total transparency, probably did lots of things I had done before, but worse?

When thinking about my little trek through the world of photography, I o̶f̶t̶e̶n̶ very occasionally think back to this Instagram post from January 2nd, 2016.

I gotta give a shout out to my main homie “80sinabox” for the constant encouragement.

I gotta give a shout out to my main homie “80sinabox” for the constant encouragement.

I remember this photo because it was one of the first times I truly tinkered around in Lightroom, using selective adjustments, making specific things brighter or darker. Basically just hungry for knowledge. I don’t know why I included that part. The rest of this blog will have nothing to do with it.

For the rest of this post I’m going to talk about, in no particular order, my 2018 highlights. I will probably sneak a low light or two in there as well. Let’s do like….top 7? I don’t know.

Never mind, it’s going to be chronological.

#7 “A Flash in the Pan” (probably a misleading heading)

One thing I started getting after in a big way in 2018 was learning about studio lighting and off camera flash. I watched a lot of poorly produced youtube tutorials and a lot of videos on Lynda of old men explaining how to use light meters for film photography. Overall, it was a lot of trial and error, and I was lucky to have a some great friends, old and new, helping me out along the way.

#6 “The Story of Maui: A Photo Book”

In February my family and I went on an all-out trek to Maui for vacation. If you had to guess, how many photos do you think I took? If you guessed, “christ, probably plenty?” you are right. I have things that are my favorite to shoot, like street and portrait, but when I’m somewhere as lovely as Hawaii or deep New Jersey I suddenly turn into an aspiring/failing landscape photographer. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still an enjoyable pursuit, but when I take photos while on vacation I very rarely do anything with them. So, to counteract that, I decided to put my favorite photos from Hawaii into a photo book for the w̶o̶r̶l̶d̶ my parents and their cats to enjoy.

#5 Entering the World of Print Media Just in Time (Being Published)

In March I had the pleasure of working with Discover Melange in a stylized shoot at the Chicago Magic Lounge, which I still haven’t been to to see actual magic…Anyway, I had the pleasure of working with some incredibly talented models and one of the photos from that shoot ended up being published in a publication called Bombshell Magazine (no, you explosives nuts, not those kinds of bombshells). I never ordered a physical copy because it was print-to-order and cost $40, but the good news is that I probably regret that a bit.

Here’s the image!


If you have perfect vision

you might be able to see my name in the corner.

#4 Learning the Pen Tool & then Buying a Nintendo Switch

In April, I was given a fantastic photography opportunity by my good pal Jeremy of Smart Yeti Creative Agency to take some product shots for a plastic manufacturing company. Outside of my wheelhouse much!? Yes sir and ma’am! I made a deal with myself that I would take on the gig as a two-fold bonus. One, I’d get a ton of practice with the much-feared pen tool and two, I’d use part of the payment to buy myself a Nintendo Switch. Both of these dreams came true, I’m now 1000x more effective with the pen tool in Photoshop, After Effects and beyond, and I’m currently sitting at 132 moons in Super Mario Odyssey! Woo-Hoo!


#3 “I Met a Traveler in an Antique Land”

My favorite part about shooting portraits is, by far, getting to know folks who I otherwise would have no way of meeting. Because, let’s face it, I’m very rarely shooting with my peers all things considered. I’m getting to work with and know about people who are involved in all sorts of different arenas outside of my little bubble of Seinfeld and self-deprecation. This is all part of the reason why it was so exciting/humbling when I was reached out to for a shoot by @jessdoshi on instagram. Jess was traveling in Chicago and found me through the mysterious passageways of hashtags (I think) and I remember just being so blown away that I could be found as a photographer by someone who was visiting. We had a hoot wandering around the hotel she was staying at, and I also went live on IG for the first time when we got trapped in a room that was full of pigeons. Also I lost my AirPods that day somehow. Maybe cause pigeons?

Jess Doshi Instagram Model Portfolio Portraits_-2.jpg

#2 “Set a Goal, Accomplished Goal”

When I first started getting into photography, I would be filled with envious curiosity about how one would get access to shoot concerts from the photo pit. I asked around, researched, found the places that I would love to shoot for and then sort of set all of that info aside and let myself live in “when I’m ready” purgatory. One day at a coffee shop, as I was about to leave, it started storming really bad outside. I thought I took a picture of it, but I can’t find it. But it was windy and dark. Spooky stuff. I decided I might as well stay and keep working, and something clicked where I realized it was the perfect time to send out my event portfolio to all these places I’d been keeping my eye on, because whatever it’s storming. So I did, and as fate would have it I was accepted into the Photography Ambassador Program for Do312. This has opened just an insane number of doors and continues to be a great path of opportunity. My fingers are currently crossed for being able to shoot a very exciting show in a few days…but we will see!


One of my huge pet peeves in the creative community is when people “tease” upcoming projects.


I’m not staying tuned, just tell me when it happens.

I realize that I just did exactly this in the previous paragraph, and that this is a me problem.

Sidenote over.

#1 Money.

I started figuring out how and what to charge for photography, and I’d like to thank all my friends and family who yelled at me to do so. I’m still very bad at it, but I charged more than $0 on a number of occasions this year, and I hope to do it several more times in 2019.


I don’t know. I did a lot and was very busy. I didn’t write about so many things that were fun and neat in 2018. 2019 will also be fun and neat and I imagine it will be a lot of work. Just like writing this post was. Folks, this post took forever.

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Happy New Year.