We had the good fortune of connecting with Jessica Bidwell and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Jessica, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I still remember the knot in my stomach. I was embarking on a new journey, one that was unmapped, one that didn’t offer the safety net of a guaranteed paycheck that I’d come to rely on. But I recognized that I needed something more, something more than the drudgery of a 9-5 that drove me to seek perfection and left me gasping for air once the weekends came. And yet, walking away from such a refuge, it was harder than I could have ever imagined.

So, as I put one foot in front of the other, I reminded myself that if I was going to invest so much of me into a job, and as I type A I knew no way, then, I was certain that I wanted to be working for myself vice fighting to make my way up another corporate ladder and letting all my skills be sucked up by a leeching company that wouldn’t offer near the gratitude I deserved. I understood it wasn’t going to be easy, hence the knot so tight I was frozen in a state of fear but I also knew I wasn’t looking back. So onward I trudged.

It was tough, to say the least, as a photographer the competition is steep and with nearly all my former photos being owned by my past employer, I was starting from ground zero. Luckily what I did attain from my years of slaving away was a tool chest so large, that I had ability to accomplish anything I wanted, all I needed to do was apply some of the type A sauce that I was far more than accustom to.

I got to work. I established a business with the state, built a website, set-up social media sites, and built profiles on stock photography sites all while building a fresh portfolio of work. I was working fourteen-hour days but I never tired. In fact, I was so driven that I just kept going, and going. For once it felt like I was practicing a passion instead of working. When I did get weary, I would remember that I choose this path, and well, I needed a paycheck from somewhere! It took six months for me to realize that the dream that I was chasing wasn’t going to pay, my savings was running dry and I was scared to have to admit that I was wrong and run back to the corporate office with my tail between my legs.

Problem was, I wasn’t making money by following the dream I had envisioned rather it needed to be tweaked. This is something most people don’t tell you, it’s not their original dream that they arrive in but rather a warped version of said dream that allows you to make money while also performing your passion. My sights were originally set on working as a fine art photographer but what I learned was although that is a very achievable goal it will not pay the bills. I say this because, I did make it, I was being featured in magazines and galleries and my fans on social media were climbing but the money wasn’t there. I had to tweak my genre. I started photographing people, I would take head shots for social media profiles, family portraits, photograph seniors, and babies and couples. I quickly found that this is where the money is, the dough that I needed to keep a roof over my head and food on the table.

Does this mean I’ve given up on my dream, no, rather it means that I’ve found a crutch that allows me build on my skills and afford the gear I need all while still preforming my true love of fine art photography on the side. Will the original vision that I sought out to fulfill ever be? I’m not sure, but what I will say is if I am going to hustle as I did in my 9-5, I’d rather be building my name rather than someone else’s. Am I living like I did when I had the cushion that working for someone else allowed? No, not even close but it’s a hit that I am willing to take.

The knot, it’s all but gone, there have been times when I wondered if I’d be able to pay my monthly bills but it seems to be that every time, I get in that state of worry the universe provides. Taking the jump and risking it all has not led me down the easiest of paths rather it’s been quite bumpy but I will say that I am happier than ever before and I’ve found that bumps I’ve encountered out here on my own have made me more resilient than I could have ever imagined.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am a transitioning veteran; over the last two decades, I spent my time globetrotting with the U.S. Navy. One constant, my camera was never far from reach.

While in service I was blessed with the opportunity to capture moments that would forever inform, teach and reach future generations, offering a muse to serve or simply a glimpse of the world from a Sailor’s perspective.

As I immerse myself in the civilian sector, one thing remains the same, I consistently find myself behind the lens capturing frames with the desire that others will be as inspired as I am by merely a moment in time.

My latest project highlights the lifestyle that I chose to pursue upon separating from the military. Though van dwelling comes with its own unique set of challenges it is allowing me to explore the civilian sector while keeping expenses low. Moreover, it’s given me the freedom to explore our great nation in search of my final destination.

I’ve also been exploring the realm of macro photography. It is with this collection that I’m hoping to provide a new perspective. I have a theory: our minds are so consumed with the day-to-day that we often miss the beauty that lies just before us. This consumption is at no fault of our own; rather, it is a symptom of our society. If more persons were to lust in the beauty which surrounds us, then, maybe, we would all be more motivated to preserve it.

Home-based in Montrose, Colorado. I have 15 years of experience, a degree in portrait and commercial photography and I attended the Military Visual Journalism program at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communication.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
This one it tough as I just moved to Montrose from Denver a month ago, further I am 7 months pregnant and setting up the home from scratch as I was living in a van for 2 years prior to this move. Some attractions that surround Montrose are Telluride, Black Canyon, Moab, and Lake Powell so I am sure we’d spend our time outdoors exploring God’s creations if a friend were to visit!

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Colorado Photographic Arts Center (CPAC) of Denver, CO Just when I wanted to give up they helped me to redirect my passion.

Website: https://www.jessbidwell.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jess.bidwell/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jessica-bidwell-02a8994a/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jessbidwellphotography

Image Credits
Jessica Bidwell

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