Picture This

Posted July 28th, 2008 by Mike Cherim

Picture this, there’s this guy who loves web development, but lately hasn’t done much of it. You might wonder why. Well, I’m that guy, and I have been telling you for a month or three that I’ve been up to something on the side. The deal is, as you may have gotten from the title, I have been hard at work on becoming a photographer. I enjoy photography, I have been an amateur since I was a boy, and it suits me. How it suits me and how I got to this point is a bit of a story.

I make my living as the director of a good bug company I founded in 1992. I got into web development because I had to — I had to make a web site for a hosting venture. That would have been that, but I developed a keen interest in the magic of the craft, an instantly gratifying creativity outlet. I thought that perhaps web development would be a good thing to do in my retirement (less than nine years away and counting). And it may very well be, to a limited degree, mostly client stuff related to the hosting thing. I may consult. We’ll see. Photography, however, is going to be my main occupation I do believe. It works for me if it’ll pay the way.

I still love web development, but not needing it for my livelihood, I tend to be very picky about what jobs I do. I will only do smaller projects (one week) and I like to have complete creative license. Some clients love it, they let me do my thing and I do it very well for them. I won’t generally do it otherwise. I have to be happy at what I do and I like to design, not just code. By the end of 2007 I was starting to feel the burn, what with taking on the world and all. I started thinking about applying the breaks a bit. It’s another reason I don’t write as much as I used to.

One pivotal moment came to be over time by way a client who paid a deposit and then left me hanging. I needed their logo and my site/blog questionnaire filled out. I’m still waiting. Having that project on the table, I started turning everything down, but the materials never showed. I asked them what was up but they didn’t know. I was asked to “Please stand by.” I asked if they wanted their deposit back and maybe just move on. “Please stand by,” they repeated. I suddenly found I had more time on my hands. One thing led to another. I became an addict of having a life again.

I have not had to beg a client for content in a while (excepting the current client, but I’m no longer begging). I’ve been working on my own, just me and my Nikon, and stuff. I still write here — and will continue to do so — and I write on both of my companies’ blogs. Accessites is slow. We actually have no submissions in the queue. I think we must require too much of developers for just a steenkin’ badge. That’s okay, my teammates have some articles lined up so it’s all good. (I have retired from this.)

I have had two photography clients. One was an entomologist for the State of Massachusetts, I took photos of him and the deer ticks he was hunting. The other was a couple for a child portrait series taken in a playground. That was a lot of fun. The child, almost two, was extremely cute. I haven’t advertised yet — this is a first. I plan to use MikeCherim.com for photo-related stuff now. That used to be my playground, but I have moved my experiments to this domain (no links were harmed during this process except… Feed Terminated, Seriously, Hundreds Wept).

My primary outlet for photography has been via my presence at iStockphoto.com. I am a contributor over there. I haven’t hidden this fact, but I’ve been on the down-low about it — I wanted to first build a decent collection of photos. Check out my portfolio if you visit me over there. I also wanted to start getting a handle on stock photography. Despite digital-related challenges that are new to me as I used to shoot film, technically I’m doing okay. And I’m improving nicely. My compositions, however, need to be, well, stockier. Sales reflect this.

It’s okay, though. I have nine years to improve and build my portfolio, and if nothing else, I’ll still be letting the numbers work for me. Passively. I’ll busy myself with travel with my wife and our life together… I hope so anyway. That’s the plan, man. And I’ll “shoot, upload, and shoot some more” — the iStockphoto mantra. Between now and my retirement I’ll embrace the craft. I’ll shoot models, do assignment photography, and whatever I else I can.

If by some chance you take pity on me once you see my horrible downloads stat, join iStockphoto (from my page) and buy some of my photos. If I don’t have what you need, you should still use iStockphoto for your stock photo needs. I know you have some. They have over 3-million images, and you can get an extra small (for example 420px by 280px wide, or tall, but variable) for about a buck, all legal like. You don’t even have to credit it unless used editorially.

I plan to write about becoming a photographer, plus a few web development and accessibility articles, and I will make something of my MikeCherim.com domain pretty soon. I will announce it here when I do. If I do any experiments worth writing about, I’ll do so here as well. I’m still supporting my form scripts and WordPress themes. And I’ll still make something now and then. After all, I’m not retired yet like my buddy, Dave. Though, some days, I gotta tell ya…

13 Responses to: “Picture This”

  1. John Faulds responds:
    Posted: July 28th, 2008 at 4:16 am

    Good luck with it all Mike. Hope it goes well. :)

  2. David Zemens - 1955 Design responds:
    Posted: July 28th, 2008 at 7:45 am

    The world of photography will never, ever be the same. Look out, here comes Mike Cherim!

    Good for you Mike. You will no doubt take on photography with the same passion that you did web design. That’s just the way you roll!

    And I’ll still make something now and then. After all, I’m not retired yet like my buddy, Dave.

    I am only retired from my past life, Mike. I am currently working full time at my new line of work, but to be honest the pay’s not that good!

    In all seriousness, I truly appreciate your change of direction. It’s tough work to do website design - if done correctly. It’s also tough to spend most of your day staring at a computer screen. Maybe it’s time for me to retire a second time. :-)

  3. David Zemens - 1955 Design responds:
    Posted: July 28th, 2008 at 7:54 am

    As I suspected, you have some terrific photos in your collection at iStockPhoto. Nice work, Mike!

  4. Blair Millen responds:
    Posted: July 28th, 2008 at 8:12 am

    I envy your courage and conviction to change direction in this way Mike, it’s something I think about doing myself now-and-then but when there’s plenty of work coming in and I’m managing to pay the mortgage and bills I’m afraid to make changes.

    As you may know I was a practising fine artist for seven years and I found it difficult to make ends meet sometimes. I don’t see photography as that far removed from what I was doing painting - basically freelance work - and I suppose it’s not too far removed from what you’ve been doing with web development, so hopefully you’ll only see benefits from your decision.

    Good luck!

  5. Jonathan Fenocchi responds:
    Posted: July 28th, 2008 at 9:05 am

    Oh, how cool! I have taken an interest in photography in the past as well, but never really found myself moving forward with it. (I suppose a cheap $200 HP digital camera may have something to do in it; that was less than inspiring.)

    In any case, kudos to you for trying something new and getting involved with it. You’ve always been a go-getter, motivated by your own curiosity. I’m sure photography will work out great for you. In fact, it looks like it already has, judging by the portfolio of varied and well-shot stock photography you’ve managed to assemble at iStockPhoto. (I use iStockPhoto sometimes at my current job, so I’ll keep you in mind.)

    I repeat: cool. =)

  6. Joe Dolson responds:
    Posted: July 28th, 2008 at 11:45 am

    Very cool, Mike. Photography has always fit into that niche category of “Oh, I’d like to do more of that!” for me…and will probably stay there for quite a while! My non-web activities are sufficiently time-consuming that it’s unlikely, for now, that I’ll be picking up anything new.

    I’ve looked over your portfolio at iStockphoto, and it looks like there’s some good stuff there. Maybe I’ll have a client needing something you’ve done. ;)

    Crony-ism at its best, eh?

  7. webecho responds:
    Posted: July 28th, 2008 at 9:19 pm

    Hi Mike
    I thought something was afoot - your Flickr stream has been getting busier and more focused over the past few months. Keep it up mate, you’ve been improving noticeably and quickly from what I’ve seen.

    I’m in a similar position myself. Unfortunately, I still work full time to ‘pay the bills’ and website design was a sideline / evening / weekend thing - now, my evenings and weekends are being spent in front of a the 2.5″ lcd on the back of my Olympus SLR rather than the two large LCD’s on my desk - and I’m happier (if not richer) for it.

    Happy snapping mate!


  8. JackP responds:
    Posted: July 30th, 2008 at 9:02 am

    That’s the key thing - if you can find something you enjoy doing and make enough from it. That’s the life.

    So you have fun there, Mike…

  9. Andy Ashlund responds:
    Posted: December 14th, 2008 at 7:17 pm

    Met a former Enron engineer who is now a commercial photographer and is doing great work. His 401K was completely in that once-golden stock, so he got to start his retirement career early! It was probably all good…

  10. Paul Harris responds:
    Posted: January 4th, 2009 at 3:11 am

    Hi Mike,

    I, too, am interested in the istockphoto venue. I am interested not in the photography aspect, but in the vector illustration part of it. I started my website (vividvector dot com) to start displaying some vector and other work I’ve done.

    I just installed your comment widget for wp and I love it! I am a poor college student, so instead of making a donation, I’ll create a vector graphic for whatever your need might be (if you ever need one). Thank you and good luck with everything!



Sorry. Comments are closed.

Note: This is the end of the usable page. The image(s) below are preloaded for performance only.