The Birmingham native and Hibbett Sports photographer discusses collaboration over competition, the importance of patience, and discovering your life's purpose.
Giani: Something that I've had to learn over the past three years or so, I've really dived deeply into being a creative and so one thing that I've always been a someone who asks questions. Sometimes I don't even think about the fact that the basis upon which I'm asking the question. One thing that really irks me in the creative world is that asking someone for information is like gold to that person or it's this prized possession. People aren't willing to give you advice and so you end up leaving feeling like you didn't really learn anything.
I understand what you mean. It's like a scarcity mindset.
Yes! And I cannot stand that because there is so much stuff that I wish people relayed to me a long time ago. Yes, I've learned things on my own but I feel like because people are so obscure with their information. I feel like we could be pushing each other forward and harder so much more if we all genuinely cared about seeing other moving forward. Many people don't want to see others getting ahead.
Do you have friends like that now? Ones that really support and push each other? I feel like that's kind of hard in this city.
I feel like naturally the people who weren't positively acting for the benefit of everybody has fallen off. Of course, people come in and out of our lives in this cycle, but I feel like now the people that are surrounding me are genuine from what I can tell. Everybody's doing their own thing and no one is stepping in anybody else's way. We're all at the point where we're busy and don't have time to be malicious.
That's one thing that I've been trying to do. Help people anyway that I can even if that means giving a contact. You never really know how you helping someone else can benefit you later on even if it's not an instant thing.
I just want to let you know that I am so proud of you. I love seeing people doing well especially when they're hungry for opportunity. It's one thing to be handed everything, but the gratification of really going for it feels so much better.
Especially being around here, no one is just handing out opportunities. There's not that many and then the ones that are, people aren't freely sharing it. To be around people who are accepting of the cards they were dealt, but also willing to figure out how to play them to win in the end is a really good feeling. It's refreshing to see people actually doing things, not just twiddling their thumbs, but trying to make something of themselves.
How would you describe yourself and how has that been described in your work?
Storytime. First of all, I am a Taurus, so we are very patient. One time, I was talking to my friend and had gathered all of my things and had a shoot for Hibbett. I felt like I had everything and was good to go. I was in 8:00 am work traffic, gritting my teeth all the way, and was getting on the freeway to go to Birmingham when I realized that I'd left my memory card. It must have fallen out of my pocket when I was reaching under my bed to grab my shoes. So that meant that I had to stop and drive all the way back home.
I try not to get too worked up over stuff especially when you think about something as minute as having to turn around to go get something that you need to do your job. So I'm talking to my friend and I told him the big thing that I try to push is that there are so many things that you could get worked up over, but small stuff is not one of those things. It's up to each person to determine what is small or big.
That's something that I show in my work. There are so many ideas that I have and even when there are circumstances that I'm not able to do right then and there. If there are materials that I need, I'm not stressed. I gather myself before going into a project and so I think that's something that shows in the things that I do. I feel like you can see that my work isn't rushed, but that it's a more drawn out production.
Would you attribute your patience only to being a Taurus or more so to your upbringing?
I look to my grandmother as being a big influence. She was never one of those people who would be worked up over stuff. Accidents would happen, things would come up, people would not show up, or whatever, but there were very few times when I would see her actually upset over something. So that really impacted me. Why do we get worked up over things? Why are we so impatient? Why are we so angsty all the time? Of course, there are some things that we can't help. I got anxious on my flight to California and was convinced that our plane was going to get hit by another one. There are some thoughts that you just have and you can't control, but I try to as much as I can.
So for me, I'm very ambitious and driven. I always have this anxiety about other people trying to do the same thing I'm doing which pushes me to work all the time. I'm now at a place where I'm trying to be patient in my career and understand that there is room for everyone. I can tell myself that, but it's hard ---
-- if it's not physically manifested. So my mantra over the past year has been, "Everything is going to work out the way that it's supposed to." I know it sounds cliche, but honestly when has it not? I've talked to so many people about this and that is my argument. When has something ever not worked out? Not saying it from an objective standpoint, but who's to say that losing your job wasn't an opportunity to move from one place to another place? Who's to say that wasn't a setup for you to be free so that when this other thing comes up shortly - if you have the patience to wait for it - that you'll be prepared because you don't have anything else that's captivating your attention?
So I think that I've really been living and breathing off of that vibe. There have been several instances when things didn't go as I wanted or expected them to go, but some way the opportunity fell in my lap. So in moments where I wouldn't be booked with a thousand clients and was feeling like I had to be working all the time and booking all of the commercial gigs, that was supposed to be time preparing and resting. I was just so angsty about having 5 clients and wanting them TODAY. I had a number of people call me shortly after I was strong in that mindset. When I got out there to perform, I was so drained and not rested enough to do it. I realized that that time was supposed to be spent resting and I didn't even know it.
I feel like that was literally what my reading was about today. We're moving to Atlanta next month. I quit my job to freelance and I've been feeling so much anxiety lately. This reading was talking about having a vision or purpose. It was talking about how oftentimes God will give us a vision or purpose for our lives and THEN prepares us. So oftentimes we feel like, "Oh, I know what I'm meant to do so I must be ready," and we go ahead and do it without being prepared adequately.
Yes. Yes. And so the biggest thing that I can say to that is that eventually those layers will be peeled off so that you can cross that threshold and live in that space that you were once thinking about. You just have to keep living. We're not supposed to be searching for our "next level person". We develop into it by living life daily.
Oh, but that is SO HARD NOT TO DO!
I know! It's like Mario when you're looking for that next mushroom, but it's like no! You will get it eventually. You just have to keep going through the course.
So do you ever feel any kind of fear or anxiety with your work? There's the tension between waiting, preparing, living and then actually doing.
That's a really interesting question because from personal experience there are times when you feel like you're at the bottom. We don't really know where our position is, but we just feel like we're rock bottom. I feel like looking back, it's those moments when I am going through that God will turn a situation around just like that.
So yes, I feel like I live in that tension a little bit, but it's in those moments where I see blessing or opportunities. That tension lasts for a very brief moment and then something happens where your hope is revitalized. It's always been like that for me. I'm not carried in the valley too long. He always shows me that he has my back and that's just something that I've had to learn to be okay with. I try not to live in a negative thought for too long.
Any advice for someone who's starting college or close to graduation?
Really consider what it is that you feel is for you and not on a surface level. Really take yourself into consideration, what you're interested in, and the field that you want to go into. Look at what's necessary and what is not. I don't feel like college is really necessary for what I'm doing, but looking back I would've gone to an actual art school. That's not something that I considered starting college because I went into college as a pre-med major.
I went in for Neuroscience! Looking back, I was obviously living up to someone else's expectations.
Exactly! I did not weigh any other options. I was shadowing an anesthesiologist. I was in a rural minority health scholars camp by way of my mother. You have to be honest with yourself. Sometimes the stuff that I do is stressful, but I would not trade it for the world. It is so much fun. It goes back to that quote that says, "If you do something that you love. You'll never work a day in your life." I feel like I'm not "working". I enjoy the field and being creative and allowing my creativity to pad my bank account. I love it and it's a really great feeling.
I would tell any to just make your own footsteps and you'll be fine.
Listen to the full conversation on the Undiscovered Worth Podcast.