Welcome To Preserving Spaces:
My Passion Project
There are few things in my life which I am as excited about as I am this project. My wife and kids are one example, of course, but beyond that I can’t think of anything. Since 2005, I have been a professional photographer. During that time, I’ve had the opportunity to photograph countless assignments. Many would think it’s a cool job – and it totally is – but, at the end of the day I want something more than to be a camera for hire.
For the past few years, I have made a living through my real estate photography business ProLocal. It’s a great job, and I get to work with people I truly like every day. It allows me to provide for my family and be my own boss. What’s not to like? My business brain is satisfied, but my creative brain is not. Most of my work is discarded after a house is sold, and there’s nothing valuable left.
I’d love to create something evergreen, something people can enjoy for a long time to come. I want to make something of meaning. That longing is what eventually led me to Preserving Spaces.
This idea was a long time coming. In 2009 I graduated from the University of South Florida (USF) with my Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology. My initial justification for being an Anthropology major was because my first choice, Magazine Journalism, was a difficult program to get into. I also thought that a Bachelor’s in Anthropology would help me get a photography job with National Geographic.
The Anthropology program was fantastic! USF’s Anthro program is well-rounded and includes all four subfields: biological anthropology, linguistic anthropology, cultural anthropology, and archaeology. Each subfield could be an entire program in itself. I enjoyed all four, but archaeology spoke to me the most.
Archaeology focuses on much more than digging up artifacts. I was introduced to concepts for preservation. We learned about building context for found items. We learned how to archive and categorize items. We learned about technology’s role, and it’s weaknesses in preservation. I loved it so much, I booked virtually all of my electives in one archaeology subject or another. I even audited a class on Florida Native archaeology for no grade. It was too interesting, and I always enjoyed learning more than partying anyways. My favorite place in college was the classroom.
Coming To Terms With Reality
During my time in college, I was lucky to get in touch with a photographer I admire, Mike Hettwer. I saw his work in National Geographic following renowned dinosaur hunter Paul Sereno. I was immediately hooked. What’s not to love? A life of travel and adventure creating something that would live on in the annals of the National Geographic archive. I lusted after that kind of life, so I emailed Mike.
To my surprise Mike didn’t email me back; he called me.
I couldn’t believe it. We spent a couple hours on the phone talking photography and he spilled his guts. He told me about the importance of building a separate source of income aside from photography. Before photography, Mike had built prolific online businesses which he was able to sell and fund his own photography expeditions. Of course, I basically ignored this advice. As excited as I was to have spoken with Mike about my work and my future, I was devastated to think of doing anything but photography simply to fund my own photography expeditions. He also dropped the bomb that most Nat Geo photographers funded their own stories and expeditions. Staff jobs were very rare, and hard to get.
Part of this disappointment was in my other goals for my life. I wanted a family, and to focus on my passions. I loathed the idea of starting a separate business or getting a job, requiring totally separate sets of skills, and a lifetime of dedication, just to continue shooting what I loved.
So… I shot what I wasn’t in love with.
A Decade In The Making
The next 10 years were spent in a professional purgatory.
I shot weddings for a decade. I shot portraits, commercial projects, random assignment work, theater and dance (which I loved). I even did a short stint in the NFL covering the behind the scenes life of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers coaches, staff, players, and cheerleaders. And of course, most recently, real estate.
It wasn’t all bad, in fact I really enjoyed most of it. I even loved a few gigs. But, by and large, it was all funded by doing a lot of stuff I didn’t like. Worst of all here I am 14 years later and I feel like I have so little to show for it except a few old tired stories. I’ve made a lot of work, and almost none of it has withstood the test of time.
As great as Mike’s advice is, I think the one major oversight of his “find other sources of income” argument is that those other sources so often consume people’s lives. For most there is no room financially, personally, or otherwise for pursuing passions. Of course, I didn’t follow any of his advice and chased the carrot that was right in front of my face, but still… I think that is what life is like for most people these days.
Finding My Passion
Despite my complaints, I have had a great life and career so far. Now I want to pursue something seriously which I can be proud of. Except I guess I’ll be flipping Mike’s advice on its head. I’ll be making my general living with photography, and using that to fund my passion project.
Only time will tell if this pursuit will be fruitful for itself. Right now it’s generating no resources, so I am drawing from ProLocal to fund the project from equipment, to time, to connections. I believe it is a project people will get excited about. I believe it will have legs eventually.
Looking forward, I hope this project will fund itself enough for some cool things. I would love to give my kids an education on the road seeing their country firsthand, while preserving the little-known treasures along the way. We’re starting locally, but the big picture is taking this show on the road!
About The Author
Kyle has been a professional photographer since 2005 and started Preserving Spaces with resources and equipment from his photography business ProLocal. He started Preserving Spaces as an outlet for his many passions including archaeology, preservation, photography, technology, podcasting, and story telling.
When he's not working for ProLocal or Preserving Spaces, Kyle can be seen spending time with his wife and two kids: Conor and Violet. He loves playing disc golf, hiking, exploring, and taking photos.
Kyle has his Bachelor's Degree in Anthropology from the University of South Florida. He holds an FAA Part 107 certificate for commercial drone operation and hopes to one day earn his private pilot's license. He's always dreamt of flying as a hobby.
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