Knock on doors, ask for a job.

It's been a wild year so far. Besides all the amazing camera gear that has been gifted to me from various sources, and linking up with the right people, I've now become an apprentice for a professional photographer.

There's this building in town that doesn't have any signs on it, except for one. It says something to the effect of " Call/text cell, cell is door number, studio is large." In the windows, there are large portrait prints. I've been curious about what's inside for years.

Scratch that - every local I've talked to has been curious about what's inside for years. There's no website or sign for the owner. Heck, I looked up property ownership and looked up the owner's name, then I searched his name to see if there were any examples of his work online.. none. Just that simple sign with a phone number. This place is an absolute mystery to outsiders.

Deciding to take that old "boomer" advice of just knocking on doors and asking for a job, I decided to text out of the blue and ask if they were hiring a studio assistant (with no idea what to expect behind that door, mind you.) Sure enough, an older gentleman responded with a call. I told him a little bit about myself, and he said I might be the right guy.

After about a one or two hour phone call, I can't recall how long, mostly of him talking and sharing stories about learning how to make prints with Ansel Adams and other famous names in the photography industry, he gives me a passcode tells me to swing by in a day or two.

I go in and meet the older gentleman, who has issues with walking, uses a walker/cane/electric scooter depending on where he's going and what he's doing. He takes me inside the building and shows me a massive studio space with cyc walls and v-flats and dozens of stands, lights, modifiers, 7 foot soft boxes, film equipment, lenses, cameras, trollies, stairs, professional monitors, large format printers. The place is a mess, clutter and dust and trash everywhere. But beneath that mess is a building full of character and potential, if only someone able bodied and passionate about photography could do something about it.

Well, I'm able-bodied, and I've now taken on the role of organizing the entire studio. His goal is to turn me into an assistant, a rep, a printer for him, and he'll teach me everything he knows. His next goal is to teach me how to teach others to do the same, so I can make a career in the field that he loves. He says he's too old run a studio on his own anymore, and he wants to lease it to me for a quarter of my gross profit made there. If I don't make anything, I pay $1. Deal of a life time.

Most of the building he built himself. The first floor is somewhere between NASA and Batman's lair. The second floor is like a modern art gallery. The third floor is like a professor's private library and study. The fourth floor is like an AirBnB. Let me remind you, everything is still disorganized and a mess, on every floor, but the potential is huge.

The pay isn't great, but the experience more than makes up for it. The man is an absolute character with a rich history - sailing and delivering boats, working as a police detective, a fashion and automotive photographer, a sniper - it's like someone out of the movies. But also the sheer amount of knowledge and materials he has to share with me, as well as the equipment he keeps giving me (I keep getting blessed with equipment! Thank you, Lord!) and the kinsmanship and mentorship of someone who has not just lived as a photographer but lived a varied and heavily experienced life, and a completely new perspective from what I'm used to... That makes up for it by far.

Anyway, it's been a wild 5 months so far, and sometimes asking for a job pays off.

- Onio