2022 will stay in my memory a little more than most years do.
Not because of a truly fabulous trip to Masai Mara early in the year, which was full of some absolutely fascinating experiences and, where, more importantly, I felt my photography moved a little bit in the direction I wanted it to.
Not also because of a once in a life time experience of traveling to the Arctic Circle when I visited Svalbard and gasped in awe at the incredible, raw beauty the place has, and of course, captured more than a fair share of polar bears images.
2022 was the year where I decided to take the Great Leap.
A leap out of the corporate world and to pursue a couple of my passions. One, is coaching ( I am an ICF certified coach ) and two, as most of you would be aware, wildlife and photography.
While I have been able to do a more than reasonable job of following my passions while working, there was that nagging sense of incompleteness and a feeling that I was taking the easier way out. I felt I was not fully committing myself to what I love doing. Also, crossing 50 a few years back, coupled with a heightened sense of mortality that Covid brought with it, made me think a lot more about filling my life with richer and more memorable experiences.
Took the call.
Dec 31st will be my last day at a job, with people and a company I am dearly fond of. From Jan 1st, the Outlook calendar won’t be ruling my life. I will have more time on my hands than I have ever had in the last few decades.
Apprehensive ? You bet. But, should be a fun exploration.
2022 was also the year that I decided to start my own website and get a little more serious with my writing.
The idea of having a website which is just a storage area of my images seemed insufficient to me, so, I started digging around to get some options. I came across a course by David DuChemin on Audience Engagement. It was a course after my own heart and talked about a structured, organized approach to a creative pursuit which made complete sense to my over analytical, over structured mind.
First step : Write down your purpose.
I attempted it. It took far longer than I thought it would, but the process helped bring a lot of clarity. Why do I photograph ? Why do I want to write ? Who do I write for ? How would a website help me in these ?
I got a better idea on how I wanted the site to look like, understood that I should not ignore the About page, that I should invite subscriptions for my posts and engage with those who do.
I decided to get a little more disciplined with my posts, keep it as a regular ( I went with fortnightly ) newsletter, cut down on my usual lengthy posts into something that is a much shorter read and also not pepper it with images but use only those that add to the story.
Its been 6 months and I have managed to release a post every other Friday before 8 am ( except once when I was stuck without internet ).
Not too bad, I think. I will be able to do this.
Its early days, however.
The SEO on my site could be better. There are small aspects, especially about the Gallery, that nag me. I don’t think I have still been able to engage with my subscribers the way I should. ( Of course, a heartfelt thanks for all of you who have subscribed and read my newsletters every fortnight ) I don’t yet have a clear handle on whether those who have subscribed like what they read, but I do take heart from the fact that a post on the threat to environment in the Arctic was the most popular story.
Working on my site and the newsletters has been a delightful and occasionally frustrating experience. I know its going to require a lot of consistent effort to build traffic but I know that I will put in the work required.
More importantly, I am not obsessed with the numbers. That helps :)
2022 was also the year where I delivered my first couple of talks on wildlife photography.
I don’t talk about the technical aspects of photography but more about the approach and weave in titbits about wildlife. I share my learnings from this passion which I have adopted to work, and life in general, or there is another presentation where I talk about what goes on behind each image, while sharing interesting information about animal behaviour or individual stories.
I have always loved story telling, I enjoy speaking to an audience and it’s a great opportunity to bring both the wondrous aspects of the wild and the threats they face to a larger set of people.
Oh yes…2022 was also the year when I got my first paid coaching client :)
And so it goes.
2023 is looking delightfully ambiguous.
It should be interesting.
A black guillemot taking off
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