Here’s a professional story that a lot of us sometimes have from our childhood: the first simple camera, the first full roll of film, and the magic of waiting and being ready for pictures to print.
Rowan Forsythe continues making time for the thing that he loves, despite his full day of work and his studies. His professional story is happening right now. Read this interview, and support him in continuing to shoot his beautiful pictures.
Who are you, and what do you do?
First and foremost, I am your typical overworked, stressed college student with far too many hobbies for my time or money. However, on the side, I have managed to take what started as a passion for photography and turn it into a source of income, finding creative fulfillment along the way. I work wherever I can, producing journalistic content for schools, providing event coverage, and doing portrait shoots on request — I’ve even gone so far as to photograph and design a website that was used as marketing material for a boat. (Check out http://www.owens30.info, which is hosted on IM Creator!)
How did you get started?
I took my first photography “class” at the age of eight — I’d burn through three or four disposable cameras from the drug store on school field trips. (Do you remember when these cameras were a thing?) My first DSLR camera, purchased on a Costco special sale, of course, was given to me as a Christmas gift in middle school. Though it was never my aspiration to become a pseudo-professional, I was propelled in that direction by a three-year tenure as lead photography editor with my high school yearbook.
I became highly proficient in a very short time — shooting thousands of photos a week will do that to you. Eventually, the school’s marketing director reached out to me, paying me with gift cards under the table to fill in for him at events, which opened my eyes to potential income. Rub two pennies in front of a student, and they’ll find motivation.
What sets you apart?
I think the biggest difference between myself and others in the industry is how I’ve refused (or perhaps failed) to pigeonhole myself into a specific genre of photographic work. The challenge presented by something new has always been exciting — I see it as a learning experience to relish rather than an unknown to shy away from. Everything that I have tried to do has been invaluable in my development as an artist, and I don’t envision myself ever working in just one photographic sub-discipline.
What obstacles did you have to overcome?
As a full-time student who also works 20 hours a week, the biggest obstacle to my development and success has been (and is) a lack of spare time. Before work, it was athletics — I was a varsity track and cross-country athlete throughout my freshman year of college. Most recently, it had energy at all. An unexpected resurgence of mono and an unhealthy relationship meant I left my cameras collecting dust for nearly a year, until recently.
Do you have any tips for other creators?
Most importantly, never let anything or anyone make you lose touch with your creativity. There is always time — ten minutes re-editing a photo before bed, a half-mile walk while dinner simmers away in the oven. You will only improve by making time for the things you love — you’ll find life gets better, as well.
What things do you love to do? What can make you happy these days? Now, we are all staying home with nothing to prevent us from being creative.