Wat Phra Kaeo - Bangkok, Thailand© Copyright David Simchock
It's hard to believe that 15 years ago this month I officially set out on a professional and creative journey that I could have never imagined where it would lead me to today. Fifteen years ago, Vagabond Vistas Photography was born (later to be re-branded as David Simchock Photography). Fifteen years. That is longer than my previous professional career in engineering and corporate management.
As they say, time flies when you're having fun!
It seems like only yesterday that I had decided to pack in my three-year travel sabbatical and, rather than return to the corporate world, I would embark into the mysterious vocation known as "professional photography". Well, it was mysterious to me at the time, anyway. Heck, in some ways, it's still a mystery!
Though in retrospect I had little idea what I was getting myself into, especially at a time when the digital age was causing many seasoned photography veterans to be thrown for a loop, I must give myself credit for doing a fair share of homework, and studying up on what it meant to be a professional photographer, or at least what the options were to generate income as a freelancer. I won't bore you with all of the details about the many books I read on marketing, publicity, business management, web design, etc., but I will say that I came out of the gates on fire, ready to take on the world. Well, at least travel the world, but hopefully get paid to do it. After all, my primary motivation was to make a living getting paid doing what I love -- travel and photography!
With zero experience to show that I was worthy of being hired as a pro, particularly in the travel photography sector, all I had to market myself in the early days was a colorful portfolio of travel "snap shots" that I accumulated during my global wanderings, an interesting story about a corporate-guy-turned-artist, and a lot of passion. I'll never forget putting that first press release together, announcing to the local New Jersey newspapers that Vagabond Vistas Photography was on the scene, and on line. It was a nervous moment dropping of a dozen or so "press kits" at the post office on a Friday afternoon, not knowing if anyone would really care what they were about to receive. After all, who was I but a cocky ex-corporate vagabond who thought it would be fun to get paid to travel?
Lo and behold, a mere three days later on a Monday morning while on my break working in the framing shop at the Michael's Arts & Crafts shop in Princeton, NJ, I got a voicemail from the Travel Photo Editor at New Jersey's largest newspaper, The Newark Star-Ledger. And, they were interested in my work, and had a particular image in mind for a piece that they were running on "Asia". Was I dreaming? Could this be real? Could being a professional photographer possibly be this freakin' easy?
After returning the phone call, and swapping a few emails with the editor, in a matter of days it was confirmed that one of my photos that was captured on the grounds of the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand (the lead photo in this post) was not only going to be published, but it was going to appear as a half-page photo "above the fold" of the Sunday edition! So, basically, after only being in business for less than 10 days, I had already gotten confirmation that I would be getting my first publishing credit -- and it was a doozie. I could not have possibly gotten off to a better start. All of the late nights cooped up in a room I was renting from a childhood friend, all of the dreaming, and all of the research and hard work in preparing for the big launch, was paying off almost instantly. Actually, it wasn't "almost". It was, indeed, instantly. The editor couldn't have had my press release for more than a couple of hours before she called me and left that voicemail. Two hours.
Now, 15 years later, living near Asheville, NC about 650 miles south of my hometown in New Jersey, I have so much to look back on and to be grateful for, and I am quite proud of the journey that I have been on and the successes that have come my way. Subsequent bullets on the résumé have ranged from being published countless times since that first Star-Ledger piece (including appearances in Rolling Stone Magazine a couple of times), to winning several awards for my fine art, to establishing myself as a renowned photography instructor, to having my music photography featured on billboards and on the sides of the Steep Canyon Rangers' tour bus. The list of achievements may seem impressive to some, but I often feel like I still have a long way to go.
Over the years, Vagabond Vistas has morphed into its own entity (now called Vagabond Vistas Photo Tours), and the introduction of David Simchock Photography a few years ago has been allowed me to expand outside of the travel photography sector. Though I still possess an insatiable wanderlust, I have managed to balance that with a few other core activities, not the least of which is my work with in the music industry. I can truly say that there is never a dull moment in my professional life. Yes, being a professional photographer in 2018 has its challenges, and it certainly isn't as easy as I thought it would be after that initial publishing credit, but I welcome those challenges just as I did back in March of 2003.
I wonder what I'll be up to 15 years from now, in 2033?
NEWS FLASH... In celebration of my 15th anniversary in business, for the entire month of March (2018) I am offering 15% off of any art order from this website. Simply apply coupon code 15DSP15 upon check-out (one coupon purchase per customer).