My Encore Career as a Photographer

An encore career doesn’t have to be a new job. It can be reinventing an existing one. My photography will soon be back on track — and with fewer carbon emissions. Here’s my post-pandemic thinking.

In the last 12 months, I’ve gone from a “roll up my sleeves” photographer who would mix it up with clients and strangers to a Zoom instructor who clears his head by taking 30-minute walks with a mask in his pocket. I can count on two hands the number of people I come in direct contact with.

During this same period, Northern California weather has gone off the rails. Fall is now fire season. Summer is water conservation. And winter is waiting for the latest high pressure system to slide southward just a bit to let a few drops of rain in.

On the whole, we Northern Californians like to think we’re planet friendly. But clearly we’re missing something. And unfortunately, I believe part of that oversight is our continued dependence on fossil fuel.

(But I’m a photographer. I need my freedom. I can’t be limited by an electric car.)

Or can I? I had this talk with myself the other night. It ended something like this: “Buddy, get over it. Then get on with it.”

Talks with oneself aren’t always articulate. So I will translate: If I want to be a responsible photographer, I need to clean up my act. And part of that process is moving around more via an electric vehicle. But, with only a 250-mile range between charges, an EV is far from convenient for photo adventures.

It is doable, however. The new fast charge technology that adds 100 miles in 30 minutes is helpful. Better planning for bathroom breaks and meals also help keep things rolling. Bottom line: I don’t stop unless there’s a charging station.

The master plan is to install solar at the house to fuel the cars and serve as backup during fire season. It’s a cool thought thinking that I can harness my own electricity. Gas, well, not so much.

So, here’s the next step. I’ve sold my 16 MPG VW Vanagon and am going to replace it with a 200 MPG equivalent VW ID.4. The EV will become my mobile photography studio, wilderness base camp, and mask-free transportation for client trips and workshops.

As a basestation on wheels, the VW will charge my camera batteries, keep my laptop glowing, refrigerate my food, and serve as a nap space when necessary.

Just in case I’m coming across as some kind of eco-friendly guy, I should mention that I still have a 2007 Audi A3 in the garage. That’s my backup plan for EV. The Audi gets 27 MPG on the road. It could get more, but I don’t drive it that way. So even though I’m going to use the EV as much as possible, there are times I will need the speed and convenience of a combustable engine. At this point, my transportation plan is evolution.

I am motivated because I don’t want to be a 2019 businessman anymore. But I still want to be a photographer. And this is how I think I can do both.

I’m going to slow down a bit, plan more, and make better choices. The byproducts of these decisions are interesting beyond tapering down my fossil fuel habit. I’ll prepare my meals ahead of time and have them with me. That creates far less garbage than fast food packaging. My water bottles will be reusable. I’ll be healthier.

Within these limitations, there’s also a crazy sense of freedom. Maybe I’ve been spending too much time alone and have become used to it. Oh well. This is a cleaner life.

In addition to photographer, now add EV Explorer to my resume. I couldn’t be more excited about the adventures ahead.

See you down the road.

Photographer, writer, podcaster- Tune in at www.thedigitalstory.com

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