You know, I never celebrate my birthday. To me, it’s just another day. My special days are related to career accomplishments. Except maybe this time….

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It’s obviously been a weird year for many of us. And it will pass. I’ve been through so much more horrible things in my life. I just hunkered down and worked. A lot. One of my addictions now is reading through the latest issue of Elle Décor. In it, they were talking about a person who renovated a run-down, neglected mansion. They were talking about the person who did the renovation and that he was one of the two types of people during the pandemic: you either shut down or go crazy with work and get tons done. He was the latter. So am I. The last few months are going to be the topic of a blog article. It was a huge eye-opener for me and it might make a difference in a person’s life if they choose to read the article.

I started this year as a full-time photographer. Years of thinking about it and I sort of had an epiphany that it was time. As Samuel Jackson’s character Jules said “I had what alcoholics call ‘a moment of clarity’”…. I remember the moment clearly. I was at an Apple Store waiting for my Genius Bar appointment and going through my CRM scheduling items and thought “What am I doing?”

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The first three months were strange. It was great because I had scheduled my first, model-agency test shoot and it went fantastic! But then in mid-February, I noticed business inquiries were drying up faster than sweat in the dessert. All of a sudden, it just stopped. Then mid-March, we had the complete lock-down in New York. But when I’m not physically photographing someone, I’m at my home-office working away with whatever needs to be done. I concentrated on editing photos and business development.

Have you ever heard the saying “The more you know, the more you realize how much you don’t?” I took a class called “The Business of Fashion Photography” done by Lara Jade. On the one hand, I found out that I was doing a lot of the right things. Which was a bit of a relief. On the other hand, I realized there were some key components that I wasn’t doing. Which then I really motivated me to charge ahead! I review the videos here and there to ingrain the information into my head. Some of the things I’ve learned have helped. Some, not really. But even the things that didn’t help, turned me onto roads that have been extremely beneficial. Totally worth it.

I also took a 30-Days of Photoshop, a free tutorial by Aaron Nace of Youtube channel Phlearn. I’ve watched some of his videos when I need to learn a technique but I figured this would be a great time to take the class and, show me how it would be like to take a class on a regular basis. I want to go back to school in the next year or so. Totally and solely for my enjoyment and finally, getting my undergraduate degree. Here is another revelation…

I learned so much with the class! Things I’ve been trying to understand for years: done. Here’s the revelation part: the reason why I didn’t learn it before was due to my IT day-job burning me out by the time I got home. Trying to relax and then change gears. My brain just couldn’t retain much after work. It was very slow-going. But now that I’m doing only photography and can schedule the learning for the optimum time, I just absorbed so much! Techniques that I’ve tried and tried now stick. Finally!

While you would be correct in thinking that learning photoshop would help me with my photo editing, I largely did it to learn more graphic design. Why?

I designed my stationery and very happy with it. But that’s super-simple. No, I wanted to create real marketing materials! Things that would go out to clients and potentials on a regular basis. Well, why not hire someone to do it for me? Well, now that I took the class, it’s actually quite fast for me to create materials. I can create a postcard for clients in 2 – 3 hours. And it looks great. Sort of. I’m still learning about colors and printing process. I think I got the process down and my next postcard going to clients should be 100% I think it’s about 95% now. If I had to work with a graphic designer, there would be all this back/forth discussion of the design. Then the cost…. A graphic designer would charge me at least $300 - $500 minimum, to design a postcard. But now, start at 9am and finish the design and upload it to the printing company by noon. Done.

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As time has passed, I had some work come in for my Ricardo Gomez Studios business. Most of the business came from people who needed headshots for their LinkedIn profiles and needing to update their online images. I also got to do a couple of weddings! Great work!

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I also got published in print in a fashion magazine for the first time! The April edition of GMARO magazine. For my first print publication, I couldn’t be happier. GMARO publishes several different versions of a month’s magazine. Which is quite amazing. So they have to figure out what photography goes with what photography. Well, the other artist I got included with: amazing people! It reminded me of GQ and Vogue magazines of old. Before editorial budgets were eaten up by celebrity editorials. Awesome and fantastic fashion all over the magazine. On top of it: I got the cover! Sure, they have at least a dozen April issues. But the cover of a great magazine is still the cover of a great magazine

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Sometimes for work and sometimes personally, I also did some mini-trips in and outside of New York City. I never ventured out of the City until this year. It was always NYC or California. No in-betweens. Honestly, many stereotypes of locations fell during my adventures. I actually like the smaller cities and rural locations of New Jersey. I found real Mexican food too! Upstate New York may be the most beautiful area I have ever seen. Heaven-like. I felt more of a true New Yorker. Maybe more so. I’ve been to locations in the City where not even natives have been. Iconic locations.

So, what up for the next year? I have plans and goals. It’s really to build upon, much more, what I accomplished this year. In whatever ways possible. I mean, whatever happens, you can plan and things will go in a completely different direction. But that doesn’t mean they won’t get you where you want and need to go. It’s just a different road. You can’t be too hung up on the exact route. Who knows, this other route can be even better….

I don’t know how to end this article. I would feel a little guilty if I said “This has been a fantastic year….”. But I think I’m okay with “I’m incredibly grateful for every inch of progress I’ve made in the last year. As small as that inch may be!”.

Ricardo Gomez Photography

Originally from San Francisco, Ricardo is now a New York-based photographer specializing in editorial and commercial photography.
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