Tag Archives | Photography

Balance… or Lack Thereof

February was not a successful month for this blog. In fact, it was (clearly) non-existent. 

At first, it was an easy choice as to whether or not to post: my day job had me engaged in some very long hours over the first two weeks of the month. There were more than a few 10 – 15 hour days and I have to admit, I no longer recover from those, now that I’m in my mid-30s, as quickly as I used to. 

When I wasn’t at work, I was sleeping (hopefully) or trying – not very successfully – to tick off the check boxes belonging to my second life: that of travel agent, blogger and photographer.

And let’s not forget the “regular” requirements of life: banking, eating, cleaning, etc…. Oh, and spending time with friends and family whenever possible.

By the time the third week of the month arrived, I was barely treading water as far as my “to do list” was concerned. As each day passed, I felt more and more the weight of the not done, the to-be done, the ‘you really should’ve had this done already’.

And then it was the last week of February. I tried to ignore the guilt. Finally, by about Wednesday, I had to admit to myself that not a single blog entry for the month was going to be completed. 

Which brings me to this post and my plea for advice from all the other aspiring photographers and writers or any others who are trying to make a go of a second career. How do you do it? How do you find a balance between the things you have to do and the things you want to do? Yes, there are weeknights and weekends, but eventually, I burn out – do you? How do you meet the demands of the every day while also trying to grow your business, improve your abilities, increase industry knowledge and maintain a strong relationship with colleagues, clients and fellow enthusiasts? Do you ever feel like you haven’t done enough?

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New Zealand: A Second Home

In 2006, I left Toronto with a 2-year plan in mind, one that started with living and working in New Zealand for a year, then moving on to Australia to do the same. As most people know and as I came to realize, making plans for travel can, at times, seem like wishful thinking, while making plans for a 2-year travel period is simply absolute nonsense. I ended up staying in the one country and creating a life for myself there.

    Pictures taken with my point-and-shoot in 2006 and 2007

    Ninety-Mile Beach, Northland

Cathedral Cove, Coromandel

On the Road – Sunset, QueenstownSunset-Drive-back-to-Queenstown

I miss New Zealand. Or maybe I miss who I was when I was there.

Me at Franz Josef Glacier & at the Tram Lookout in Wellington (2006)



We fall back into old patterns when we come home. Or at least I do. Relationship patterns, work patterns… behavioural patterns. There are some emotional ties that bind stronger than others.

My time living abroad was the best experience of my life to date and I am drawn back to it often – in memory and in emotion – and with increasing frequency of late. As much as travel is about the interactions without – the people, culture, food, smells and sounds – it is also about the resulting tumult within – the (sometimes) fundamental, intellectual, emotional and psychological effects that leaving your comfort zone can have.

A few years back, I wrote a piece for a publishing contest that talked about this idea of no longer fitting in with the place you’d called home for so long.

What makes a place a home? Is it simply where you were born? Perhaps where your family or friends are? Or is it that place where you feel comfort, safety and familiarity?I could never have been prepared for feeling torn in two, forever missing another place and another family of friends. Nor could I have known how this unquenchable thirst for more – more travel, more exploration, more knowledge – would gnaw at me, intruding far too often when least welcome or expected.”

If you’re interested in the full piece, click here or on the Writing link at the top of the page

It was written with the contest as the stated goal, but in reality, I think it was a way for me to try to answer the question – asked repeatedly and offhandedly – “How was your trip?”. It wasn’t a trip. It was my life for the better part of two years. Am I supposed to be able to sum up two years in a neat little three sentence package? It’s hard to explain to even your closest friends how strange it feels to come ‘home’, to return to the same people, sights and sounds, feeling like a foreigner. I’d visited several websites of people who’d gone home after several years abroad and they all cautioned that re-entry would not be easy; they just didn’t say how or why.

Pictures taken during my return visit in 2011

House Overlooking Matai Bay, Northland
Matai Bay, Northland


Long Bay, Auckland


In the end, I guess I’m still grappling with the real and lingering impacts of that period. I feel like I’m well past the age where I should already know who (and what) I want to be. But then, life and fear get in the way and I’m thrown back into the submerging weight of indecision and uncertainty. The encouraging part is that, eventually, I surface and find my way back to the writing and the photography and the irresistible pull of travel.

What are your stories about returning home after extended time abroad? How did it change you? Or did it?


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Follow Your Dreams – Check. Next step?

For this entry, I’m veering of course a little and writing about some of the doubts I’ve experienced about how to do this whole freelance writer, photographer thing and hopefully, do it well. 

So you’ve decided to take the (blind) leap and follow your dreams. Or, more accurately, I have.

It’s true that you feel a certain amount of… liberation once you make the decision. I’m happier, less stressed and less worn out because even when I wasn’t thinking about it consciously, it was always there, in the back of my mind, hovering like a fog around my day to day actions. Also, I know now that I won’t have any regrets in this area when I look back on my life: I never wanted to be 60 and wonder ‘what if’.

But the unavoidable BIG and complicated question follows closely behind: What next? What am I supposed to do to make this venture a success? What’s the right choice? Is there even such a thing?

As a photographer, you need to make your work known. You need people to see it. Does that mean a show or an exhibit? And if so, where? A gallery, a restaurant, a special occasion rental venue? What about trying to submit for newspapers and magazines? What’s the process? How about my own print site where people can order from the site? How do I make people aware of and attract them to the site?

One question inevitably leads to another and then another and then… another. It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed and a not a little lost. I suppose the trick is to break things down into achievable tasks so you don’t feel like you are facing a giant, nebulous mass of the unknown.

It’s important to stay positive and not get demoralized when things don’t go exactly and as well as you’d imagined they would. Invariably, our brains are wired to let us think the best of ourselves and our abilities and the rosy image you initially see in your head is as unlikely as it is naive. It doesn’t mean you should give up though; I think of it rather as a test of how much you really want to follow through.

Why do we believe the path to success (whatever that means to each of us) should be easy and smooth? The truth is: I’m not afraid of work – I’m afraid of failure. Not the ‘losing the battles’ type of failure, but the ‘losing the war’ failure.

The ‘what ifs’ resound and I do my best to ignore them. I wrote recently that I don’t have the answers and probably never will. I believe that’s true. I think, though, that the solution is to continue moving forward and not think about whether it’s the right or the wrong decision; I can course correct as I go. The point is not to do it perfectly, but to do it.

I choose to believe that I will make my living as a freelance travel writer and photographer.

How do you keep going?


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