A Thank You and a Chance to Address the Elephant in the Room

I just wanted to write a little appreciation post to everyone who has supported me over the years – whether it was through cars, my photography, or even just coming to this blog to visit – I haven’t come to appreciate it much until recently. I regret that because the only reason I still write posts and take pictures today is because of you guys. Thank you if you’ve been with me from the beginning, thank you if you’ve came half-way through, and thank you if you just got here.

I’ve been blogging for what seems like a lifetime – it’s been about 13 years since I started my first one on blogspot. Even before that, there were things like CalgaryPlanet, AsianAvenue (#TBT), and even Nexopia. The true blogging of things, cars, and my life wasn’t truly until I hit blogspot and a big part of blogging for me was being able to show exceptional photos. When I first got interested in photography, I was using a point and shoot and a bucket as a tripod. I won’t get into specifics about where I started but over the years – my friends and their cars – the ones you’ve seen posted here have been subjected to my shoots, my practicing of different techniques – good and bad. You’ve seen some of their faces in my ‘set up’ shots and over time, I was able to develop my own style of photography that many of you are familiar with and I’m grateful for that. It gives me a good feeling when people are anxious and excited to see content posted up from events or photoshoots. I enjoy the feedback and comments from people like “@jayhoang shot my car” or “great shots as usual from @jayhoang”. And I’m really not trying to toot my own horn – this is me thanking you for your support every time you tag me in your posts.

It wasn’t until recently that I really truly misjudged and/or underestimated the support that I’ve gained over the years. In my recent plea for help to upgrade my photography arsenal – the amount of DM’s and messages and emails were overwhelming.

Over the last decade or so, I’ve been doing shoots with no monetary attachment. It was for my own pleasure and experience – I’ve been the type of person that always thinks “it’s not good enough”. Every year, every shoot, it gets progressively better and so I think to myself – when I get really good, then I can do something about it. But having that mindset of never being good enough means that I’ll never get to “really good” – it’s a never-ending road, but I think it pushes you to always try to create exceptional work and the ‘customer’ will always receive the best work that you can provide at that time.

In my post, I asked for 6 volunteers for photoshoots at a cost to help fund new gear with the promise that as soon as I got the new gear, I’d do another photoshoot for them. Needless to say, the spots filled up and before I knew it – my weekends and evenings were full. My ‘thank you’ goes out to everyone that reached out and there were some (that will remain nameless, but they will know who they are) that even just donated to the cause. It was at that moment – regrettably – that I realized how 13 years of doing something can create such strong foundations beneath you that you sometimes don’t even realize are there. I use the word ‘regrettably’ cautiously only because I wish I knew sooner, but it’s as they say – it’s only when you’re down that people who truly care or support you will come and give you a hand. I want to clarify – I’m not “down and out”, I just wanted to provide people who were interested in a photoshoot the opportunity to join in on the “I scratch your back, you scratch mine” scenario. So again, thank you to everyone who reached out – it really means a lot to me, you have no idea!

Now for the dreaded elephant in the room. That elephant has always been there – I just chose to ignore it due to reasons stated above, but jumping ship from Canon to Sony (or any brand for that matter) is a huge leap that involves switching practically all of your gear in order to be back to where you started. Unfortunately, it’s not a free switch (what is free these days?). At the end of the day, as much as photography is a hobby for me – it still costs me money to maintain the hobby. If I were going to meets and just taking random photos – I wasn’t expecting people to pay me per picture. I know you’ve all probably heard this before but photography is more than pushing a button and having a nice picture come out. It’s having the gear, it’s driving to the location, it’s the cost of gas, it’s the time spent editing the photo, the subscription to host the photos and display it, and ultimately the final outcome which you receive to do whatever you please with it. The result – although intangible – is something that (I hope) brings you some sort of gratification, like any product, but requires work to deliver it.

Photography is a really blurry area when talking about services. The water is muddy because it’s not something that you pay to get certified in. There’s no ‘paper’ you can show to people to say you’re good at what you do. You just need to be able to have a good camera and the title of “photographer” is instantly yours these days. I take a lot of pride in taking good photos, and I really hesitate to call myself a ‘photographer’ to people because I know how people feel about it. “I just take pictures.” My take on my work has always been to let my pictures speak for itself, that people recognize good quality, and great work will always outshine any title, in my humble opinion. I joke a lot about people calling themselves photographers as soon as they get an “expensive” camera because it truly takes more than that. People need to start somewhere and everyone has their own idea of good work – which is a big reason as to why the water is just so muddy. Someone who has never seen a good photo before will think that a photo from an iPhone X is amazing. Someone who has seen millions of good photos will know that it’s from an iPhone X. It’s the same thing when trying to find a good bodyshop or mechanic – you need to weed through the bad to find the good.

My point is that although my work won’t be free (for the many reasons listed already), my hope is that everyone still understands the difference in quality, attention to detail, and many other little things that come with the work. You’re ultimately funding the passion and work that I’ve been pursuing for all of these years. It helps me (and other truly deserving paid photographers) continue to upgrade and support themselves in whatever way they need. In that same breath, I am absolutely not concerned or offended if you decide that my work is not worth your dime, because I know there will be some out there that will be turned off by this. There are many other photographers out there that I’m sure will do what you need them to do.  So again, thank you to those that continue to help fuel the fire and keep my passion going – for every photo I take, you’re a part of it in one small way or another. Here’s to another 13 years?

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