Freelancing So Far

It has been three months now since I began to freelance in Albuquerque and New Mexico as a photojournalist, event photographer, sports photographer, videographer and any type of media maker as I can be. That being said it has opened me up to many different types of assignments and tasks that I would have not been able to experience if I was a staffer. 

So I see the advantages of being a freelance photographer, the freedom, the ability to make your own hours, the diversity, these are all things that I enjoy as of right now. Although, many photographers in Albuquerque and in the industry of freelance photography and freelance videography speak about the stress that comes with it. I feel as if everyday I wake up I have to hustle my way to make the funds to eat, pay bills and to survive. On that note the hustle is different than waking up everyday and pushing yourself to be a great photographer. For example the hustle means I make my way to a local speedway and attempt to sell stills and video clips to racers for some extra cash to pay my bills. Hustling means finding gigs that will pay, and pay enough to not let people take advantage of you, which is hard because even only after three months a spirit can be broken. If I didnt have to hustle for money as many privileged people do, I could spend my time chasing assignments that could help my community and shoot things that can push me to be a better photojournalist. As of right now though I am in this rut of shooting anything just for money to get by.

It seems a little ironic that you go into the world of photojournalism and photography because you love it and you think the cliche line "you'll never work a day in your life if you love your job". Well the love begins to fade when you have $20.00 in your bank account at the end of the month.  

All the doom and gloom aside though, here are some photos and videos I have made since. 

2016 Balloon Fiesta

The Balloon Fiesta comes to town every year and is Albuquerque, New Mexicos premier event. Thousands gather at Balloon Fiesta Park for the worlds largest balloon gathering. This is just a small collection of frames I collected on the first Sunday of the week long fiesta. I tried to not focus on the evident, the huge colorful balloons but its hard not to and hard to find different aspects of this massive event. 

University of New Mexico vs San Diego State University

The last home game of the 2015-2016 season for the University of New Mexico's mens basketball game against San Diego State University Tuesday, March 1, 2016 at WisePies Arena. 

The Lobos lost to the mountain west front runners SDSU 83-56 in a dramatic game. In the second half of the match a SDSU player was ejected from the game due to fowling out Lobo's Elijah Brown. 

Along with a hard loss the Lobos also said goodbye to three of their seniors, one being point guard Tim Jacobs. 

Advancements

Somtimes the best way to motivate yourself is to drowned yourself in work and the things that you love. Going into 2016 I realize how much time I spent at games, news assignments and getting things worked out for my portfolio and photo competitions. The time I spent and all the instances that I had to stay late at work have finally showed a glimmer of advancement. Other then doing picture editing at a local college newspaper, I just got hired as a freelancer for a sports photography outlet. It might not seem a lot but its the first actual photo job I have outside of college. It feels strange, overwhelming but extremely humbling. As many people can probably relate, you are your own worst enemy when it comes to your own work. I look through my photos after every assignment and do not think they are every up to the quality I want them to be at. I always am striving to keep my eye through the viewfinder and never miss a moment. To always be ready and professional and to try things others around me havent. 

With this new year rolling in, I am going to be taking a class load that will be the most challenging to date, a more work as a freelancer and also a teaching assistant position for the journalism departments photojournalism course. Its a great feeling to have so much on my plate because every thing I do this year, I hope will inch me along this terrifying path. 

Internship Season/CPOY

When this season rolls around its a good time to look through the work you have done within the past year. Internships all across the country are taking college journalists and at the same time as well College Photographer of the Year has its annual competition. Its a time of the year that was pretty stressful for me personally. On top of working pretty much everyday, I had to sit down and compile what I thought was my best work. Luckily I have a couple of awesome local professionals that I can call in for a favor and have them rip through my edits and let me get an ear full. Which I think is the best way to put it. 

Photojournalism is a craft, its a skill that you have to work towards every single day. I contrast photojournalism with medical professions. In my mind I see having a medical degree is something you work really hard for while in academia, then when you leave you have all the skills possible. Photojournalism or any journalism you have to work day and night for and you are always improving. For example I shoot around 20 assignments within a two week span and look back at what I shot. Then I take that to my mentors and have them find things I cant get myself to see. My composition, my approach, the visually strengths and weaknesses. 

All said the next step after the pain staking process of compiling your work is to send it off. Which is a terrifying experience in itself because you strain yourself to dig through your work, and nothing comes from it. The mass amount of good photojournalists in this country is insane, and with staff positions becoming far a few its hard to justify breaking yourself. It almost seems hopeless, especially when you hear from people in the industry that jobs are scarce, hours are long and the pay is terrible. The pay is something I dont care about, or the hours, but the idea of not having job security is something that shakes me up. Back to my medical degree contrast, you bust your ass for eight years to ten years and become a doctor, but your "grind" never stops as a journalist, even more so a photojournalist. 

Thats why this time of the year is so straining because putting yourself out there in the hopes that someone finds you is really the only way a young photographer has a chance. With so many publications requiring you to have an existing internship under your belt, you get caught in this system. A system of revolving let down. You cant get brought on to your first internship due to not having a prior internship, so how are you going to get the first internship? On top of living in a city that has a metro paper that wont work with young photojournalists to get their foot in the door...now this has turned into a rant. 

The upside to all of this is that Ive been shooting like a mad man and having 12 hour days. Things to take away from this. Extra batteries, 32g cards, food and coffee. 

Ethics and Being in Strange Situations

Society has a strange outlook on people with cameras. Ive noticed when I arrive to situations that are not really okay in societies eyes, mainly breaking news, that as soon as I pull out my camera to document what is taking place, I am branded as a weirdo or sick for snapping away at these scenes. 

This brings me to this women that was right outside of our newsroom. We had just had a staff meeting and one of our reporters exits the building then moments later busts back inside. He says that Albuquerque Police is outside and there is a girl laying on the ground. Immediately from what we heard our news editor grabbed his notebook and I my camera. 

Exiting the doors we saw a women probably in her mid twenties sprawled outside ripping her clothes off. I was shocked at first to be seeing something like this but i took a look around and so was everyone else. So my first instinct was to get in close, so I did. As soon as I took a couple of steps forward I had Police officers calling me sick and not having any decency because I was taking photos. At the moment I knew I was perfectly in my right so I kept shooting away. 

The whole campus at that location was at a stand still. Ambulances and squad cars bottle necked bus traffic, creating mass amounts of foot traffic. 

I return to the newsroom and start thinking, "what if this girl is a student?" All of these possibilites started rattling through my brain, the words that the police officer barked at me. Its strange because during the moment I un plugged myself from emotion and focused on the job at hand but after it was a different story. 

We decided the story didnt have much news appeal other then how strange it was and the information of the women was not released to us so we sat on the story. Looking back I run into this photo of her and it makes me realize the importance of focusing on the task at hand and acting as professional as possible during ethically strange situations. 

From Staffer to Editor

It has been a stressful couple of weeks to say the least. I have taken the steps to becoming the Lobo's Photo Editor. I thought it wouldnt be to bad, send a couple of staffers off for assignments, wait at the office till they submit them, not so bad. Then I came to realize that I would be picking up more assignments than I ever thought I would be. Every day its a constant cat and mouse game. I am going racing the clock to meet a deadline, while in contact with 4 different sources in 4 different parts of the city to set up times for me to spend a day with them documenting what they do, who they are and so on so forth. 

On the few days where there is silence, like today, I look back at this madness and remember that I had a blast at everyone of those stressful assignments. Wether it was being on the Lobo's football field at University Stadium, hearing thousands of people cheer and boo or trying to convince a curator at Popejoy's Museum to let me take photos of the show. 

I wouldnt give it up for a second.