Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Graduation + The Future

  I’m not entirely sure where to start with this. I’ve been meaning to create a blog for a while now so that I would have a place to write more in-depth about what is going on in my life and budding photography career. A little introduction might be helpful: I was born in November 1993 in Jacksonville, Florida, but raised for the most part in a small town in Georgia. I discovered photography in the spring of 2010 and started a 365 project, which I completed a year (and three months) later. I have since decided to pursue a career as a fine art photographer and relocated to Orange, California in June 2012.

Anyway! So. Last month, I graduated from high school. I guess that’s where I’ll kick things off. My graduating class consisted of almost 500 kids, the largest in my school’s history. I was #3 in the class, which was disappointing at first, as I’d basically worked my hardest to be valedictorian, but later reassuring as I realized I was ranked the highest student that didn’t have to give a speech (Public speaking kills me). So after that, I was long-hair-don’t-care about graduation and really just wanted to get it out of the way.

I ranked #3 with “honors with distinction” and also was awarded “star student” for having the highest SAT scores in my graduating class.

Both sets of grandparents traveled down from Wisconsin for the weekend, which was nice, as I rarely get to see them. My boyfriend Brian also flew over from California to be there.

We spent the rest of the weekend relaxing by the pool.

Reflecting on my high school career, I don’t have much to say. I sincerely doubt I will be one of those individuals to remark later on in life about how they were the best days of my life. However, I also can’t say that they were torturous or completely awful. I enjoyed school for the most part. I love learning. It definitely became tedious and less appealing during my junior and senior years, but for the most part, high school was pretty okay.

While the rest of my classmates went into that weekend relishing in their newfound freedom from compulsory education, I was desperate to make the most of my last week in Georgia. That following Saturday, I was to pack up my car with all my worldly belongings, say goodbye to my family, and drive across the country to California. From there, I would move in with Brian and truly begin my career as a professional photographer.

I can honestly say that I never anticipated this path for myself. Growing up, I was convinced that I would be some sort of doctor or lawyer or other conventional, high-paying profession. I’d never had a passion or showed an aptitude for anything other than school. I had been brainwashed into believing that I wouldn’t be happy unless I made hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, owned a big house, and had a secure job. I took classes designed for a career in medicine and had decided to pursue a career as an anesthesiologist, simply on the notion that it was the best-paying job and I was smart.

Toward the end of my sophomore year of high school, I discovered photography. I don’t want to be cliché and say that it changed my life, but I don’t know any other way to put it. It wasn’t until about halfway through my 365 project that I realized I really was in love with the art and couldn’t see myself doing anything but taking photographs for the rest of my life. It came gradually of course, so it wasn’t even a surprise when I spoke the words for the first time, “I want a career as a photographer”.

I did meet some opposition from my parents, even more so when I announced that I didn’t want to go to college, but rather try to make it without any post-secondary education. It was a struggle convincing them of my reasoning behind it, and to this day, I’m not sure I have them completely convinced, but they’ve come to accept my decision and support it. I was conscious the entire time that they only wanted what was best for me, so it wasn’t like I harbored any ill feelings toward them. It was more like feeling like a bird trapped in a cage. I know that I’m being heavy with the cliché analogies, but that’s a good way of describing how I felt.

I do feel that there is a lot of brainwashing and contradiction that occurs within today’s society, and it occurs so gradually and begins so early in our lives that it is hard to root out or realize until faced with a situation like an artist might encounter. A college education has come to be something that is almost instinctively sought after high school. Not to go has essentially become a taboo. I don’t have anything against the idea of college whatsoever, especially when one aspires to a career where it is required, like a lawyer or doctor. It is when that mindset is applied to those careers that do not require it when I see a problem, like a photographer, per say. Art school can be a great thing for those who desire guidance and the fundamentals. However, for someone like myself, who has already established his own personal way of creating, I don’t think it is entirely necessary and could even be detrimental in a way. True art and talent and inspiration cannot be taught. It is born. That’s how I see it.

I’ve never been one to take risks, and choosing to pursue a career on my own just felt so right that I didn’t even see it as one. I’ve learned to go after what I want and my own happiness and let everything else and everyone else’s judgments fall by the wayside. #YOLO. Haha.

Anyway, I didn’t mean for this to go so long or get so serious. I plan to continue to post here -- much more light-heartedly, hopefully – when exciting things happen, or… I don’t know, I just want to say something that won’t fit in a flickr description. 


  1. Love it - well read Alex - you are an inspiration to many people. Without being cliched - you have adopted the American Dream - found something you love doing, as a bonus with someone you love also doing it, and have found a way to make money doing it. It is a win win life. I am buying one of Brian's prints next month and hopefully one of yours the month after :)
    Your photography is superb - would love to try and organise an exhibition of your work in Australia for Mardi Gras - it would sell like freaking hotcakes :) Keep doing what you is doing!!

  2. Well done, Alex. It's very nice to read more of you and how you are doing in California. I can also totally understand why you created a blog, sometimes you just want to share more than pictures and tell the stories behind them as well. In a place you can design a bit more than you could on Flickr. It's amazing and wonderful to see what you've achieved so far. I'm very happy for you and very much looking forward to see how the story goes on :)

  3. I followed your work since the 365-days project time. Loved it! From then on I think we all wanted to know what your next projects were going to be and what facts in your life give birth to such wonderful ideas and inspiration we find behind your work. I'll be glad to know much more from you in the future. Keep up such beautiful art you bring to us in every picture. Hope you visit Southamerica some day and discover the natural beauty here, too. I'll be commenting on your next posts. (I apologize for my poor english.) Greetings from Bolivia! ;)

  4. Alex, you are such an inspiration to so many, including me. Your words were so incredible. I am so proud and honored to have seen you grow in this journey you have taken in creating and doing what you love. I can't wait to see what the future holds for you :)

  5. it's quite brave to go and do what you want
    lots of people are just too scared and pressed by others so they do what they don't desire
    good luck, Alex, seriously :)

  6. Hey Alex! I found you linked over on Heather Armstrong's www.dooce.com blog. And I gotta say, man, if anyone can make it, I think you can. Your work totally blew my mind. Props. :)

  7. I still remember when you first started 365 on flickr :)

    I've witnessed your growth as an artist and photography and I'm truly happy for you.

  8. yes, i am pretty sure the road to ahead of you is going to be way cooler than high school! your work is amazing!

  9. What you write here is so true. I was extremely "into" school and graduated near the top of my class, but chose to pursue a career as a ballet dancer rather than go to college. College is so much just what we do now, regardless of it can actually help (in a dance career, college grads are often seen as too old and have a hard time getting a job). Thanks for articulating my thoughts! I love your photography, best of luck with it.

  10. Hello! I’m a current high school sophomore. I love your work; it is truly astounding. What you said about "brainwashing" is true. I've been "brainwashed" by countless adults and even teachers. I'm nearly top of my class and I love school and learning, but schools seem to be geared only to college; if you don’t go, you fail in life. I feel as if I won't do anything beneficial in life if I instead pursue a career in art. Anyway, thank you and congrats on going against the flow to pursue your dream! :)

  11. Hey Alex,
    I don't know whether you'll read this, but I'll say it anyway. I came across your photography by chance, when I was randomly surfing the net. I'm from Sri Lanka- yup that tiny island so far away from the States. I think you've heard this before, but your photos are just... amazing. I love the way you put nature and human emotions side by side... it's just ...WOW. I just also want to say, as (im)probable as it sounds, when reading your blog, I thought I was reading my autobiography. ;) If I may say so, I was one of the top students in my school too, and my parents wanted me to become a doctor. I, however, wanted to write. I've decided to take this up slowly- one step at a time.:) This August, I'm planning to leave to the UK to start uni- to study Psychology and French. I hope the subjects will give me some more insight, and help me in my writing- if there is such a thing as psychological writing. Anyways, enough about me- I just want to say I wish you the best in life, and that you are a source of constant inspiration to me-helping me to put ink onto paper. :) I sincerely wish that you'll go really far in life. Once again, best of luck with all your future plans.:)