It’s like a cross between a “good tired” and burnout. I know what you’re thinking. Stop your whining, so many people would LOVE to have your life! After all, I just came back from three quite amazing places. Italy, Iceland, and Sweden and that’s like a vacation, right?
I get emails, comments on my blog, tweets, and Facebook messages all the time from people that I don’t know, telling me that they wish they could be me because I’m “Living the life!”. Granted, the places I get to visit are quite amazing, but jet setting and living like a king while on the road isn’t what my life is all about — just ask another travel photographer or travel writer/blogger. Another one I get a lot is: “You’re so lucky!” Trust me, luck has nothing to do with photography or the travel I do.
Working hard or hardly working?
Travel is hard work. When on the road I tend to work at least 14 hours or more a day, eat poorly, sleep little, get sick, and come home wanting to do it all over again.
Why? Am I a masochist? Nope, not at all. In fact, that is the fun part of my job. Not the getting sick part, but the being in awesome places and taking photos, yet it is exhausting. The hard part — or rather the part that is far less appealing to me is coming home jet lagged and having a mountain of paperwork, emails, phone calls, image editing, writing, and other things to do. It gets to the point where I get rather overwhelmed and unsure what to do first.
This work, the mundane everyday sitting at my desk till my back is killing me work — that is what most of my days are like. In the end I think it’s worth it, mostly because I have a passion for both the photography and travel. Trust me though, my job looks a lot more exciting than it actually is. I take photos maybe 5% of the time that I devote to work, the rest is far less fun. I’m not bitching about my life, after all I choose to do this. I’m just trying to convey that the perception of what I do is often nowhere close to what the reality is. Your life is probably pretty good too, different than what people imagine it to be, but good even if the grass seems greener on my side of the fence at times.
I often hear from people who tell me that they wish that they could do what I do. My answer to you is.. Do it. If you want to do something, follow the advice from the running shoe folks and Just Do It.
Is it hard? Everything is hard until you know how to do it. Even then, it ain’t always easy. Since beginning the travel photography and blogging I have worked 7 days a week, 70-80 hours a week, this is not an exaggeration. I just do it, even if sometimes it’s really bloody hard. So before you say that you want to do what I do or have my life, please understand what you are wishing for.
“Believe with all of your heart that you will do what you were made to do.”
~Orison Swett Marden
Working this hard doesn’t make me a hero and it may very well make me a bit of an idiot, but I hope not. I’d like to think that what I am doing and trying to accomplish is simple. I want to have an interesting life that allows me to see the world and create beautiful images that inspire others to travel to the destinations I photograph. Even though I place far less importance on money now than ever before, I’d like my work to be sustainable and fruitful. That part is a constant challenge and I’m constantly looking for the right people and companies to partner with. In fact, marketing and looking for work takes up a great deal more time than actual working at photography.
Two and a half years ago when I started writing the blog and began doing the travel photography, I had no idea where it would take me. I just knew that this felt like the right thing to do. Due to some life changing events I made the decision to follow my dream and become a travel photographer… And I did just that, not looking back, not even once. I was inspired to follow this path by a very special friend who passed away three years ago and have had the support of family and a few friends who believed in me. Thank you.
During the last couple of years I also made some great friendships in the travel blogging world and the world of travel photography. These people motivate and encourage me, they are kindred spirits, and kind, generous people (except Mike Sowden, he’s a terrible man ;)).
Collecting moments… Not places
I’m trying to learn how to be a better traveller all the time. How to savour the special moments while on the road and how to make those moments happen more often. I constantly strive to be a better photographer, traveller, and person in general. I often fail at all three, please don’t tell anyone. This can be our little secret.
I try now to stop and take the time once in a while to experience a place as opposed to just photographing it. I’ve missed out on a lot of potential inspiring moments during my last few years of travel. Now thanks to talking with so many other travellers with years more experience on the road than I, thanks to their insight and experience, I have learned that it is important to allow myself to experience things, talk with as many local people as possible, and just be open to letting life take the course it is supposed to take after you have done your best to get to where you are. I’m learning and evolving as an artist, traveller, business person, and human being in general. I’ve still got a lot of learning to do and who knew evolution could be so exhausting?
The last few months have been very busy with the three aforementioned trips to Italy, Iceland, and Sweden. To my disappointment during this last while, I have been quite delinquent in posting anything new to the blog. Sorry! It’s not that I haven’t wanted to write anything. The true culprit is time, or the lack thereof to be more precise. Planning the trips is just as time consuming at times as the trips themselves and I honestly don’t know when or if I’ll ever catch up with the images I have to (or rather would like to) edit and retouch.
I’m looking at a lot more travel for the second half of 2012. There are 14 destinations that are possible/probable destinations for me for the balance of the year! Not sure I can fit them all in, but I’m sure going to try.
I’ve even had to turn down several trips this year (the Galapagos, Lebanon, Australia, Greece) mostly because for some reason a lot of people at PR firms, tourism boards, and travel related companies seem to think that paid flights, accommodations, and meals is fair compensation to go work somewhere for days on end, come home and edit images, write blog posts, share info on social media, all of which promotes their destination or service. They want me to do this with no monetary remuneration and are surprised when I refuse! That mentality seriously has to change. Who works for free? Just dealing with such a ridiculous mindset is exhausting and I deal with it on a weekly basis.
Just thinking about all the upcoming travel makes my head spin. Even if it seems like I have bitten off more than I can chew, I always make it work. I don’t take breaks or days off very often, and most certainly no vacations even though people often equate any form of travel as a holiday.
I started to write this post with the intention of trying to explain that due to my crazy travel schedule and other commitments that I have not been able to write blog posts as often as I’d like the last couple of months. The post just ended up writing itself and hey, I still managed to throw in a few photos from some of those awesome places I get to visit.
“The ability to concentrate and to use your time well is everything if you want to succeed in business–or almost anywhere else for that matter.”
One of the things I know that I need to do is take better control of my time. While I have some aptitude in taking photos, managing my time always seems to be a challenge. I’ll just add working on my time management skills to the list of things I need to do. Yea, that should take care of the problem and I’ll never be tired again! Sigh…
Thanks to all of you who take the time to read my posts, view my photos, follow me on various forms of social media and sent me kind emails, comments, and messages. I really appreciate your support and kindness.
Now I think I’ll take a nap… Just kidding ;)
Other posts you may enjoy:
Ian Mckenzie says
Good post Ken
Doesn’t seem to matter what type of photography you do Its just such an easy job. For 35 years I’ve shot ordinary folk. Portraits weddings an the like. Nothing special or note worthy. Just recording the life and times of my clients.
The most often asked question I get is. “What do you do?” To which I reply I’m a photographer. Pretty bloody obvious considering I’m more times than not struggling under the load of carrying a heap of photo gear around when they pop the question. They almost to a man follow up by saying “but what do you do? I reply that I take photos.
Not convinced they then ask what I really do. So now I just say for 6 days of the week I work as a photographer, taking pictures editing and running our business. On the seventh day I go work on my hobby farm. And you know what….. almost always they come back with “So you’re really a farmer!”
YEP, I’M REALLY A FARMER!
That photo of Skeppsholmen Bridge is incredible! You posted this at a great time as the past two weeks I’ve been dealing with major overwhelmation myself (just made that one up). Wondering if all this time I am putting into blogging, writing and photo stuff is going to be worth it and today I think it will be :) Love your honesty and I look forward to looking at/reading about your upcoming travels. Hope there will be some more Europe!
Great post. Really enjoyed the insight. The photos you included were pretty amazing as well. Really loved Ponte Vecchio shot.
Debbie Beardsley @ European Travelista says
I hear ya and appreciate all you do to present us with your fabulous photos! They are breathtaking.
Love your photos and I love this post. I’m striving to be as “lucky” as you… ha ha!
I especially liked this line “I often hear from people who tell me that they wish that they could do what I do. My answer to you is.. Do it. If you want to do something, follow the advice from the running shoe folks and Just Do It.”
Thank you for that. It’s easy to get discouraged sometimes when there are SO MANY travel writers/bloggers out there but if you don’t believe you can do it, who will?
Ken Kaminesky says
Ian, So I have a farming question for you… ;) Musicians, writers and other artists get this kind of reaction all the time. Either disbelief that it’s possible to do something like that for a living or the belief that we are living large. Sigh.
Larissa, Overwhelmation… I’m gonna steal that! There should be some more Europe soon but that can change at any time. If things go as planned, there are a few very cool destinations on the horizon.
Robin, thanks for reading. I love that bridge!
Debbie, Thank you, I really appreciate when my readers take the time to say such nice things.
Andrea, I agree, it’s easy to get discouraged… but don’t! Just get better at what you do every-time you do it. Never mind the “competition”. Compete against yourself.
Evan Kuz says
Ken, I’ve been following your posts for a short while now, and as someone who loves taking photographs and also loves traveling, I’m so glad you wrote this post. I’m not surprised to hear what your day to day life is like, but it does makes me appreciate and enjoy your final work even more.
lisa | renovating italy says
“Be careful what you wish for” ….certainly true in your case. I have no doubt about the massive ammount of work that goes into everything you do. I am already seeing the ammount of time it takes to respond to emails, blog and just live life.
Go take that Nap…you deserve it!!!
People would probably be be better served saying “I wish I had your attitude!” Seems like your work and travel are just the outputs of something more wonderful going on inside.
Marvelous and inspiring post. I loved the “Just do it!” advice too. Especially like your comment, “…everything is hard until you know how to do it.” – Mostly we are too lazy or give up too easily. I just had a thorough telling off from my son to that effect, so this philosophy is very much on my mind!
I can tell you from my “vast” age too, that we are constantly evolving, at least if we want to learn, improve, grow and not stagnate. So you have evolved in every sphere and will continue to do so all your life.
Lastly, love your observation “….to experience a place as opposed to just photographing it.” I was musing about how much we actually can learn about a place on a relatively short visit (whether it’s 3 days or 3 months) but you hit the nail on the head there. It’s the experiencing it that counts.
I can imagine how exhausting that must be. We don’t do half of the travel as you do and I can barely keep up with everything. You are building a name for yourself though, so that is awesome!
You SHOULD take a nap! :D For some reason people are less and less eager to pay or value photographers work coz the imagine they could do it themselves, or rather that it’s just to press a button… It’s fun that people photograph more and are very interested in photography but a shame that many think owning a camera makes you a photographer and therefore the value of a good picture decrease =/
That’s what makes it so hard to be a photographer today, not just the competition but that it’s always hard to believe in one self, who decides what a good picture is? You can’t! You just feel it when you see it…. keep it up! /from a beginner in travel photography
I love your editing. You have a great eye!
Not trying to be an arse, but most successful individuals work long days in the US. That’s why I want to take your advice (“I often hear from people who tell me that they wish that they could do what I do. My answer to you is.. Do it. If you want to do something, follow the advice from the running shoe folks and Just Do It.”)and become a Travel Blogger. Ha!!!
Thanks for sharing your amazing photography with the world!
Ken Kaminesky says
Evan, Thanks for that. It’s nice to know that people can relate to the tougher side of the job that I do.
Lisa, No naps for me! ;) Yep, the emails and social media obligations are quite time consuming. I wish i had more time to do the photography but I do realize that the stuff i need to do allows me to do the stuff I love to do.
Will, thanks man. It’s not always easy, but most of the time, it’s worth it!
Linda, I keep learning with every trip. I learn about ravel, people, places and myself. I think my greatest quality (and sometimes biggest fault) is my perseverance and stubbornness and not my skills as a photographer. Keep on keeping on ;)
Christy, yeah, it can be exhausting and also frustrating in so many ways. I’m hoping that the hard work and belief in myself will pay off in the long run. It already does in so many ways.
Kiki, I suck at naps… Really! In today’s world where so many people consider themselves photographers the best way to combat that perception is to keep doing better work. I think the difference is obvious, at least I hope so. The best person to compete against is yourself.
David Salahi says
Thanks, too, for sharing the reality of life as a travel photographer. It’s clear that anyone who achieves anything significant in life does it by working really hard.
I think it’s great that you were able to commit to this life and never look back. I’m still working on that one, with one foot planted firmly on each side of my fence.
Thanks Ken for taking the time to respond every comment – you don’t have to respond this and I understand if you don’t have time to read it either but anyways, if you would, I just wanted to share the blog I wrote after reading your post =) take care!
Matthew Karsten says
Ah yes. I can relate to some of this and feel your pain. Especially the part where travel = vacation in everyone else’s mind…
But your hard work is obviously paying off, and it definitely inspires the rest of us!
Elal Jane Lasola says
I want to be a travel photographer and you totally are inspiring! Hats off to your hard work :)
Thanks for making it real and not give us the fluff about how fun and easy it is to be a travel blogger / photographer. I have another job and started my blog as a hobby to share my experiences with family. Recently, it has started picking up, I am beginning to see that I am much longer hours and it’s non-stop i.e. 7 days a week. Working two/three jobs is tough.
I can’t even imagine how tiring it must be for you! There really is no such thing as a holiday and like you’ve said, I have to learn to just enjoy the moments instead of thinking, what and how do I write about this experience.
Looking forward to many more of your amazing photos and your story is an inspiration! My hats off to you :)
P.S. Also slowly learning about photography.
Amen Brother. I hear you on every front of this. The worst is when you come back exhausted and then no one believes that you are so tired – in their eyes you just came back from vacation! Yes, it looks that way on the outside but no, it is not a vacation. I have the same problem being overwhelmed as well. All the emails you need to catch up on, the social media that slowed down while you were gone, then the most important sorting through and editing the photos. I find it hardest to concentrate on anything when I first get home because I feel like I have so many things to do and I don’t know where to start.
Wanna go halvesies on an assistant?? :)
Good for you turning down the trips too. After our current commitments are up we are going to be adhering to that policy as well. The free trips are fun but they don’t put food on the table…
Philip Nadidai says
This boat and castle are actually really nice hostels/hotels. The best I could find in Stockholm. This picture always brings me back to my time back there. Thanks a lot!
Ken Kaminesky says
David, thanks for the nice comment. Now get off the fence and JUST DO IT! :)
Kiki, so glad to see that the post encouraged toy to write a post of your own. Happy and safe travels!
Matt, The works is paying off in a lot of ways.Happy to know that some of what I do inspires others. That means a lot to me.
Elal, I wish you a lot of luck. Be prepared for a lot of hard works and with that, you can go far.
Diana, Anyone who says that travel writing, photography, and blogging is an easy life is either independently well off or a liar. This is hard work but with passion about the work and the belief that you are doing what you are supposed to be doing in life, this becomes a calling. Keep up the good fight!
Beth, my sista from another motha :) You of all people know what I’m talking about here and that i just barely brushed the surface about the realities of life on the road as a photographer. Free trips do not pay my bills and shame on the people that offer them and think it’s some kind of compensation for out work, talent, and time.
Philip, I tried to book a room on the ship… Sadly, all sold out. Next time!
Christer Edman says
Ken, I am touched by heart and feel the passion for what you are doing in every sense of my body. It’s very rare to see someone as you being honest and open about what it takes to succeed. I know also from your writing and photos that you would do this with or without getting paid. I am sharing and hopefully will you get the right contracts and money for the talent you have. Your story inspires me to write about “Hard Work” behind social media and creativity. Thanks for following me on Twitter from where I found your blog :D
Thanks for this post.
I’m an expatriate teacher; but sometimes I feel like people think I sit on the beach and drink cocktails all day. The fact that many teachers here do that frequently does not help my case that I work hard. And I work for a small school – again, the high roller assumptions.
This post is also a good motivator not to give up on my photography ambitions, which have been somewhat neglected for other things. Though my teaching skills, financial planning and other things have moved forward.
One thing I will say – is I do take days off. Especially now with a sprained ankle. Well, I suppose I was catching up on emails, researching future travel and so on…but I count a day of not much physical movement as a day off. And, I do absolutely take naps. Sometimes it’s hard to unwind from everything, especially when you’re passionate about it – but I do recommend them sometimes. Sometimes a good nap really helps you come back at something you’re working on with a fresh view. If you can relax enough to enjoy the nap (which I also understand is sometimes not possible).
Speaking of – today is not a day off. Peace.
I ONLY JUST SAY THIS.
*starts wiring Klout-bombs*
NO, NOT “SAY”, I MEANT “SAW”. I WAS SO OVERCOME WITH RAGE (AND CAPITALS) THAT I TYPED WRONG. MORE BOMBS FOR YOU NOW.
Ken Kaminesky says
Toronto limo service says
Photography is very good profession but now a days people do not like to hire photographer because they like to take photos personally with their cameras. But I do not discourage you, your blog is good Ken Kaminesky.
Anita Mac says
Great shots. Love your eye. I am agree that it is good to slow down and take the time to experience the place rather than just experience it. You see a lot more that way and it allows you to get the unique and meaningful shots.
It’s hard to concentrate on the text because of these beautiful photos. :)
Kemal Kaya says
That photo of Skeppsholmen Bridge is incredible! Your story inspires me. Thanks a lot!
Viktoria Altman says
Yes, I also had been to Italy and Iceland, it’s really a great experience to be in such a divine place. To get something valuable we have to pay the price and the pain in traveling is that cost. We travelers always find fun in paying this cost. Great post!
Stockholm is a beautiful city with amazing islands. I have fond memories of Sweden as a 2 year student and planning to visit one of my host families soon
Ivan at mindthetravel.com says
It feels like nothing has changed since 2012. I believe a lot of bloggers (me as well) are still struggling to change this mindset that people at travel-related companies seem to have. I believe most bloggers are working twice as hard as everybody else to deliver fun and engaging content to their readers. PR firms should realize the importance of the monetary remuneration!
Ken Kaminesky says
PR people are usually fresh out of school kids with zero life experience and a sense of entitlement. It is up to bloggers to stand up for themselves and learn how to say no. I don’t blame PR firms for not paying when they get what they want from many bloggers. I blame those bloggers for setting the bar so low.
Ivan Taremwa says
I can relate being a content creator myself. Writing an article worth reading takes time and to be honest rather exhausting. Unfortunately, a price tag has been put on the service and many left their passion to put food on the table.
Ivan T says
“Working Hard or Hardly working”, i feel your “pain”. Being on the road, traveling insane distances is tiring. It comes with plenty of rewards though. As a safari director, i get to travel my country(Uganda) and enjoy the spectacular scenery and wildlife. Sometimes i seem to enjoy it more than my clients. However tiring, i wouldn’t give it up for the world.