Never Stop Dreaming – Never Stop Designing Your Life

The Rise of the Phoenix – Daniel Jenkins 

 When I shot this image on the edge of Lake Michigan in Chicago I felt like it was a turning point for me, my life and my career. I look back on the events that led up to this point and it was interesting how many things come to full circle. I was back in Chicago after being away for quite a while. Another project led me here and gave me the resources to replace all that was lost over a year ago when a car was broken into and left me with nothing but the clothes on my back. I learned a few valuable lessons. One, get insurance on your gear. It is imperative. I think the most important lesson that I learned was one that most people deep inside know already, but don’t always live… NEVER EVER GIVE UP on your dream.

Many people may have looked for the tallest bridge to jump from at that moment. I must just be too stubborn and really wanted to see what was next. I looked at my options, any option, even the remote possibility of an option. I think most would suggest “Get a job”. That sounded like the easiest thing to do. I was skilled in many areas, left the technology sector to pursue my passion in fashion photography. The income from a “job” could have me back on my feet within three months. Sounds simple enough… but it wasn’t having moved from NY to California, staying in Arizona… I didn’t have a car, let alone something to wear to an interview. I had a few clothes left here and there that were sent to me, still nothing interview appropriate. In addition it seems no one was really hiring.

I was in a position that whatever I was going to do, I had to do it other than the conventional way, I had to create it. Luckily I had friends and family that would put me up for a bit and in turn I’d help them out with whatever they needed. What did I do? I worked hard booking shoots as I would if I had gear. As long as the budgets were big enough, I’d rent whatever was necessary to get the job done. A friend lent me a 35mm camera for a few weeks and I went out and snapped some film that I had leftover somewhere. I spent more time working on images from my dvd archive that I had already shot.

I had a one way airline ticket leftover from a part of a flight. Great thing about “buddy passes”. I had many opportunities to go back to California but was waiting for the right one. We started planning a birthday party to be a kick off party to a series of fashion shows. Many promoters were involved and it seemed like the best time to take that flight. The party should have produced a small amount of cash to get me by for a bit. December 19th, it rained in Los Angeles. This, the fact the venue double booked, and the promoters over promised and under delivered made things harder. I was running out of time.

I spent a lot of time on the beach thinking and probably a lot of time hoping and praying. The sun and the sand felt so good. I would scoop up a pile of sand and let if fall as if it were a magic hour glass that would grant me my wishes. It wasn’t many days after, I got onto a bus and went back to Arizona. Some family needed some help moving.

Once back in Arizona when I wasn’t helping someone out, or trying to book shoots, I was polishing my image collection. I looked at the possibility of stock photo sites but I really didn’t see anything that had generic commercial value. I posted what I could with no luck. I was able to sell some of my live music photos to some fans here and there.

February brought a glorious gift. A close friend brought me a replacement Canon 20d and a Manfrotto tripod during Superbowl weekend. I felt like a photographer again. I was still a long way from my lens loss and light kit loss, but this forced me to learn more about natural light and other methods. I continued to book small shoots here and there and even went out into the desert to shoot these desert landscape

March and April brought some small gigs, May brought me back to California. I continued working hard at self promotion and picked up a light kit. August brought more travel opportunities and by October I was able to replace my laptop and some other gear as well as a really good lens. My hard work and perseverance was showing signs of payoff. With the launch of my new web site and a rising google ranking, I’m landing some larger projects again. Which brings me back to Chicago. There’s something that makes sense in this area. It takes me all day to fly to New York from L.A. So I find myself looking for studio space in Chicago to be more centrally located to work between both NY and L.A. more efficiently. I’m constantly seeking opportunity to work anywhere in the world therefore I’m careful to use my resources more wisely. My first investment in something that isn’t related to photography gear will be a custom Zaharoff suit. This will require monumental celebration.

I recently had a conversation with a friend whom I used to date. She said to me “I have to give you credit, you keep on keeping on”. That’s exactly it. I keep on keeping on. I am committed to succeeding. Even the smallest tasks, I move forward to ROCKIN my dreams.

Daniel Jenkins is an independent fashion photographer with an unique vision that grabs attention and intoxicates the viewer. You may view his work at  you may also visit his blog.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *