How did I get here... and why did it take so long?

Alyna and the Mean Green Motor Scooter.

An awful lot has been going on recently.  I would first like to take the opportunity to tell everybody that I've started a business and as of now I'm Nathan Sanborn, photographer.  Although the business just started, this story starts much farther back.

I've always craved adventure.  I wanted to travel and see the world from the first moment I caught a glimpse of it in the pages of National Geographic magazine.  This thirst for travel and adventure got me swiftly enlisted in the Marine Corps well before I even graduated high school.   While in high school, I always excelled when I had an opportunity to create.  It wasn't just artistic creation, although I loved that, I would go all out to write an essay for classes I was barely passing.  Nothing more frustrating for my teachers than to see me turn in A work consistently only to have me skip the basic homework and leave the class with a D.

When I graduated, it was straight to chasing my dreams.  I had always wanted to be a Marine, and when given the chance I was really good at it.  I went from being the high school student with "so much potential, if you'd only apply yourself," to honor graduate of both the Corporals Course and the Engineer Equipment Operator Journeyman School.  I got to wet my appetite for travel by living a year in Okinawa Japan, doing an amphibious landing and visit to Vladivostok Russia, and with a short scenic tour of the Persian Gulf.  I lived around the US, and generally expanded the hell out of my horizons.  I tried to capture as much as I could with a 35mm point and shoot camera, and eventually bought my first "real" camera, a Pentax ZX50.  I took a Photography 101 class at the local community college and learned the basic controls, how to develop film, and how to print my own pictures in the darkroom.

Photo 101 with the ZX50.

By the time I got out of the Marines, I had a skill I could get a job with, and a fiancé.  We moved back to Portland and I was hard at chasing the American Dream now.  I worked as an excavator for a few months until I quickly learned that excavation in Oregon was a seasonal gig, and I was in no position to be unemployed.  I dove straight into the help wanted ads and back on track to following my dreams got my first job in photography, working the counter at a cheap portrait studio in the mall for minimum wage.  This was also somewhat seasonal, as they brought me on mainly for the Christmas rush.  At the same time I found a second job (strangely part time minimum wage didn't cover the rent) with a construction equipment rental company, until "something better comes along".  After Christmas I was done with the portrait studio and had never even touched a camera, and I spent the next nearly 14 years working in the equipment rental industry.  I started out doing inside sales, got a promotion to outside sales, married my fiancé, bought a house, got divorced and sold the house, moved in with a friend on a tiny bed he had in his office, got a promotion to management, bought a condo, went back to outside sales, got an offer to work for a competitor, made the move, and finally was let go nearly 3 weeks ago. 

I was disappointed to be terminated from my job.  I liked the company I worked for, I liked the people I worked with, I even enjoyed the work itself.  Unfortunately sales gigs for big corporations can put you in the cross hairs of a management team who's primary focus is the spreadsheet in front of them.  "It's just about the numbers."

At the same time I was glad to be let go.  I started with the latest company and was immediately a rock star, then the bar was raised, then it was raised again, then it was raised again, and honestly I was on track to die of a heart attack by age 45, and my manager could have stood up at my funeral and said "You know, if he just would have gotten an extra 15% we could have buried him in a nicer casket."  And even though I liked the work, it was never something I would have dreamed of doing.  

After my divorce, I had a lot more free time on my hands.  Rather than sitting around and feeling sorry for myself all the time, I got deeper into photography as a hobby.  My ex wife used to always spoil me at Christmas, so my first Christmas as a single guy I spoiled myself with my first digital camera, a Nikon D50.  A few years later and I had outgrown the entry level camera and was shooting enough to justify to myself the purchase of a D7000.  As soon as I picked up the D7000 I was impressed with it, and my pictures were... the same.  Go figure, better cameras really don't take better pictures.  They might be better to take pictures with, but all the bells, whistles, and megapixels in the world aren't going to make your pictures better.  To do that you need to upgrade your brain.  Enter classes about photographic lighting, hours and hours and hours of reading about photography, composition, color, posing, and even more time practicing with a camera in hand.  Eventually you start to feel that you have what it takes skills wise to do that job you've always dreamed of... "Professional Photographer!"

But photography is an over saturated market, and I didn't want to increase that saturation.  Besides, I had a good paying soulless job as a salesman.  Thank you circumstance for taking that last hurdle away form me. 

I had been feeling like a failure, not for losing my job, but for not having the guts to chase my dreams.  I was disappointed that the reason I'd never lost everything in life was simply because I never had the balls to risk everything.  Ever since I was a little boy reading National Geographic I dreamed of one day taking photos for them.  I truly believe that now is the time to chase that dream.  It may never come true, and if it does I'm going to be a fantastically long way away from achieving it for years to come.  But consider all of my chips pushed in.  If I go bust, I'm going to fail spectacularly with a huge grin on my face for finally giving it a go.  I'm not going to die saying "I could have been a professional photographer, maybe even gotten into National Geographic", then close my eyes wondering if I really could have... I intend to know for sure.

Let the adventure begin!