One year ago, I set out to become a commercial electrician.
Andy here (Andreas Bodemer). I heard that they’re beginning to cut people from the job site, so this seems like the right time to do this:
I’ve had an excellent experience as an installer with Cochran. I’ve been super fortunate to work at Climate Pledge Arena. There has been an incredible amount of earning and learning. And I’ve met good people.
That being said, I’m ready to change directions. I’m going to leave Local 46 and Cochran to pursue professional goals outside of construction and electric.
I’ll be getting a hold of Z— today or tomorrow to let him know that I plan on leaving the company. I would like tomorrow to be my last day. But I can stay a little longer if I’m really needed somewhere.
I’m not going down that path anymore.
I don’t remember exactly when I decided I was going to pursue photography full time. But I remember the day that I knew that my job wasn’t good for me. It was a long, hard few weeks of manual labor, pulling cable through miles of trays and conduit (pipes); the details are as tedious as the work was a pain. I knew I wasn’t going to be happy or become a better version of myself. I didn’t see much room for personal growth but plenty of room for professional growth.
I mean, the money was good, better than I hoped for, the most I had ever been paid. But that wasn’t enough.
I realized I needed a way out. So, I formed an LLC, Ingram Consulting.
Going from entry-level, blue collar electrical work to “consulting” probably seems like a huge step. What is consulting anyway?
I was aiming towards something. I knew that I could use my experience and education to provide people and businesses with value—somehow. I had the sense that I could produce value and then receive money in return, and the more value I would create, the more money I would receive in turn. That was the basic idea. I figured I would learn along the way. And it was just supposed to begin as a side hustle that required no significant investment. I planned to talk with a few local small business owners and like—I don’t know—tell them how to do their jobs that they’ve already been successfully doing for many years. —maybe not quite that.
I wasn’t driven by ego or hubris; I needed to move forward even though I didn’t know where to go, which is something that I learned riding motorcycles during the pandemic: if you give it gas and keep moving forward, you’re less likely to fall down. This is becoming one of my overused platitudes. I’ll mention it again in detail again.
Shortly after forming my LLC, I spoke with a small business consultant who worked for a non-profit. The most important thing she said to me was this: specialize.
I spent a few weeks thinking about that. My degree wasn’t particularly useful for business consulting. My relevant education is the equivalent of a minor in economics, which doesn’t go far enough, I feel.
I considered web design. I figured I could make some side money helping small local businesses put together their first websites. But two things quickly discouraged me: (1) my own website was/is exceedingly unspectacular, and (2) it turns out that the local businesses in Lynnwood, WA and much of the Greater Seattle Metropolitan Area that don’t have websites are usually owned and operated by East Asian immigrants who do not speak good English and who are notorious for being exceedingly thrifty. But most importantly, I didn’t find web design particularly interesting. But, many people love it, and that gives them a huge advantage.
Time passed. I thought more.
Meanwhile, I had been practicing photography seriously and actively for over half a year. I had an entry/enthusiast level camera, a Canon 80D with a 50mm 1.8 lens and two 35mm film cameras.
I hadn’t seriously considered making money off of photography. It just seemed like a huge leap. I didn’t have the equipment to do it. Plus, there were so many good photographers out there already with beautiful websites, great cameras, and mad photoshop skills.
I continued onward.
I had a chat with my future self, which probably sounds like an odd thing to do, but I have found it useful to think according to those terms. I had been saving money for my 40th birthday, either for a down payment on a house, a motorcycle, a new car, or whatever else it is he might want. I asked him if I could have some of his money so that I could focus on photography. He said yes because Future-Andy would appreciate having very good photography skills, but I would have to make a sacrifice. And I knew what he meant.
I sold my motorcycle, a 2016 Triumph Bonneville T100, so I could buy a Canon R6 body and a RF 50mm f/1.2 lens. Then, I sold some of Future-Andy’s stocks and dipped into my savings to build a custom computer and a BenQ photo editing monitor, a top tier 15-35mm lens. And then after working putting overtime for a few weeks, I bought my final and favorite lens: Canon’s RF 85mm 1.2 DS, which is arguably the best, full frame portraiture lens on the market right now. I’m glad I snagged it up when I did because it was on back order for a while, and Canon has decided to raise their prices on all of their lenses because (1) inflation is rather high at the moment and (2) they can’t keep up with demand, which isn’t bad—for me.
I think the only thing that I’m missing at this point is lighting, which isn’t totally necessary, albeit quite useful. There are plenty of photographers who rely on natural light alone.
When I worked for Amazon Web Services not too long ago, I remember one of the core values Amazon Corporate instills in their employees: it’s always day one. The idea was sort of the idea of maintaining a beginner’s mind (shoshin) and keeping vigilant, paying attention to customers because they quickly get bored. You’ve got to stay on top of things and keep adapting and growing. I’ve kept this insight. But I put a philosophy twist on it.
The Ancient Greek Philosopher, Heraclitus said: Any day stands equal to the rest.
Any day stands equal to the rest.Heraclitus of Ephesus
It’s always only today. We only have the moment; the past and future are oblivion. How you treat today is how you will treat tomorrow and the day after that. So, I move on to day one and the days after with that in mind.
I left the electrical field on good terms. That’s important because how you end something influences the beginning of the next thing; the tone of the last song reverberates and sets the mood for the next one.
So, now what?