A few years ago, I suddenly and unexpectedly lost my job. As I went through the usual routine of updating my resume and sending it out, I was constantly and painfully made aware of my survival fears and insecurities. One thing that I had to stop was photography. I generally take photographs on 4×5 film, and film and processing is expensive.

To help maintain my sanity and keep a perspective on things, I started taking morning hikes in the hills surrounding my home. It was a wonderful way to start the day and I’ve continued it to this day.

From time to time things would catch my eye and I would put a frame around it with my hands to see if it would make a good photograph, but I wasn’t taking any photos. I had already tried to photograph the hills where I live with little success. I wasn’t going to risk any money on film at this time.

Every morning I passed this patch of Pennyroyal, and I would try different compositions with my eyes and hands.

I finally found work and could afford taking photographs again. The patch of Pennyroyal is one of the first photographs I took.

With hindsight, I see that my photography changed a lot after going through that tough period. I used to be drawn to grand sunrises and sunsets with wide-angle lenses. After getting back to work and photography I started to focus more on the open space surrounding the town in which I lived and finally started getting some successful images of the area. It feels like I was more inner directed and less interested in producing images that might impress people.

I eventually added a section to my web site called My Home Town Nearly all of these images were taken after this period of adversity.

Now history is repeating itself. What started as a two-week work furlough has now expanded to over a month and I might even be out of a job. Once again I’m sending out resumes and we’re hunkering down to save money. With this economy who knows what will happen and where this will lead. Adversity is here again and so are my survival fears. I’ve been extremely fortunate, and no matter how bleak things appear, I’ve been able to pass through them and move on. I’ll just take each day, each moment at a time and see where it takes me.

Adversity knocks us out of our routine so we have to look at things afresh. We may see what we like and what we don’t like and we can develop strategies to change things for the better, but ultimately we have no clue how things will turn out. Only with hindsight do we see what happened, but most people, myself included, report that life has turned out for the better.


~ by danbaumbach on March 10, 2009.

11 Responses to “Adversity”

  1. I wish you the best of luck Dan. As fellow photographers I think we can all appreciate the sacrifice you made last time. I hope you are able to continue photographing through this tough time. I know for me when I am facing a obstacle in life a photography outing can be a much needed oasis. Please keep us updated! The Pennyroyal image is spectacular. Wonderful color palette accented by the lovely light.

  2. I’ve always loved this photograph, Dan, although it looks lousy uploaded to WordPress 🙂

    I really like the direction of your blog. You’re very open and honest, and it’s enjoyable reading your words and thoughts.

    These are very strange and difficult times indeed, but people like yourself always pull through and come out stronger on the other side. I wish you the very best, Dan.

  3. Thank you Andrew and Michael. I’m a pretty shy person and sharing my feelings in a blog is not easy. Thank you for your kind words and support.

    – Dan.

  4. Dan, for as shy and quiet as you are you put your feelings into images and words beautifully. Although new, yours is one of my favorite blogs to read.


  5. Thanks, Guy. I’m surprised how much fun it is to do. One of the positive side effects of being unemployed is that I have time to do this. I started working on the blog in June but only since I don’t have to go to work in the morning have I made it public and been adding new posts.

  6. For some strange reason I don’t recall ever seeing this image – it’s beautiful and exceptionally well executed. It does seem that sometimes we need to be properly “positioned” to take on a specific artistic pursuit. Like the other’s, I have greatly appreciated your “local” work.

    Once again, best wishes to you as regarding the job situation.

  7. I’ve never seen this image either, Dan. It’s wonderful. It’s also proof that it takes time to know your subject matter. Time without camera to just pause and see and think and get to know your subject. It’s obvious that this is a very thoughtful image. I also wish you luck in the job market. It’s pretty bleak it seems, and belts are tightening everywhere.

  8. I like to think the art to leading a fulfilling life is to be able to turn negatives into positives. When I was out of work several years ago I made an effort to use my new found free time to improve my post-processing skills. It sounds like you have the means to do something similar with your new found free time. I know how stressful these situations can be and I wish you and your family the best. With a little luck things will turn around quickly and you’ll be back doing what you love.

  9. Thank you.

    – Dan.

  10. Dan, I thought I had subscribed to your blog – evidently I hadn’t. For some reason I just happened to stop by for a gander today and have really enjoyed your images and writing. Great stuff.

    Best of success with your job hunting!

  11. Thank you Ron.

    – Dan.

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