My Journey To Becoming a Professional Photographer - Part 1 (because I need to break it down a bit...)

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Let Me Tell You The Story Of How It All Started...

This story is one which has not been told many times before as, to be honest, not many people have been that curious about why and how I became a professonal photographer - But recently, I do not know why, this question has come up quite often and so I decided to “tell all”, so to speak!

I suspect that nowadays many people see “being a photographer” as something everyone does, and it is no big deal - No real story to tell... Get a camera or a phone>Click the shutter>Be a photographer!

Sorry. No. That’s not the story. Not even close!

So if you would like to find out how it all happened for me, and why, let me tell you my story…


In early 2003 I worked at an International Help Desk, for a large telecoms company. I will not go into details about my job as it is not relevant other than to say I liked it well enough and mainly liked the (majority of) the people I worked with - They were a great bunch of people and made the day, mostly, go by quickly. But this was not a career - It was a job. The sort you go in, do the work, go home and leave it behind until the next day - Pretty average for most people, and just what many are happy to do. To be honest, at that time, it was what I was happy to do and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that!

However one fine day I am at my desk when a member of staff from another team, where I occasionally did Saturday overtime, came over to me and said “Did you hear about Jeff (not his real name)?” “No”, I replied. “He died suddenly of a massive heart attack!” Jeff, at the time of his death, had a new baby daughter and a young wife.

I did not know him well and had only worked with him a couple of times when I was doing overtime - But he was a nice man, and only 30 years old...!

These news shook me far more than I would have imagined possible, as I did not know him well. I clearly remember not only feeling devastated for Jeff’s early and sudden death but also for his family’s loss.

With hindsight my sense of shock and sadness may have stemmed from the fact that both my parents died relatively young of fatal heart attacks, and so these news felt almost personal to me.

Also, I was only 38 and not that much older than Jeff…

Asking Myself a Very Difficult Question… Then Booking a Holiday!

I, in no way, wish to make Jeff’s premature and tragic death about me or my own life - But it is almost impossible not to think about your own mortality when you are told someone so young, and with so much to live for, has died - suddenly or otherwise.

After the initial shock of these news, I reflected on how this could so easily happen to me. To my own child. To any of us.

My next thoughts were: “If I died suddenly tomorrow, or right now, what exactly would my legacy to this world be? What good have I done? How have I made a positive difference to anyone else’s life?

Sure… Getting an engineer out to fix someone’s phone is important and it does help an individual, but let’s face it: It is not a legacy of any sort!

These questions had REALLY hit me. It all began to bother me. A LOT!

I was 38 and felt I had not done anything of significance for anyone else. I had not contributed to make a real change for anyone. I had neither created anything nor made any positive impact in this world.

I felt overwhelmed. I needed to take some time away, on my own, to figure this out.

All I knew at that point was that my life had just changed in some way and that it was up to me to figure it out.

I was very upset by Jeff’s premature death, but I know that it was the catalyst for my own change in direction!

I booked a week off and went home that evening still with no clue as to what I was going to do next with my life or what it all meant for me. The only things I knew were that:

  1. I had to do “something”, and;

  2. That I had no idea what “that something” would be!


To be continued! (not because I want to be dramatic, but because it is easier for us all!)

Andrea de Gabriel