It is 5:45am, my alarm is buzzing for the third consecutive time this morning and finally I get up, throw on an old pair of jeans and my trusty insulated plaid button up. It’s the uniform of choice among my co-workers on the construction site. I have just graduated from BCIT with a journeyman certificate in the trade of plumbing and this is my first week back to work.
I am 21 years old and the new foreman of the jobsite with employees twice my age working under me. I am making great money and the company I work for has big plans for me. But I’m a plumber. This job was never something I wanted, it was just an opportunity that presented itself at the end of high school.
As I drive to work, all I can think about are my friends in Whistler who are just waking up from a late night of partying. Where the only obligation for the day is to tear up the 2 feet of pow that fell over night. They all moved to Whistler after high school to live the dream, while I’ve been convinced to stay back and work, be responsible and build a foundation that I could always fall back on. I will spend 4 years doing an apprenticeship and then maybe, when I feel its right, I can take some time off and ride.
Halfway through my apprenticeship I began shooting photos of my friends snowboarding on the weekends. These guys are attracting the attention of potential sponsors.My photos have been published a few times now and I feel that there is an opportunity for me in the sport as a photographer. But the only way is to quit my job and dive in headfirst. Many advising me that snowboarding is just a fad and that giving up my job as a tradesman would be a big mistake.
I never wanted to be a plumber and the thought of doing it forever scares the shit out of me. It’s now time to do what I want…to do what I love. It is a gamble but I would rather be broke doing what I love than be well off and hate my job.
It’s been 20 years since I quit my plumbing job and I am still on top with an elite crew of photographers shooting professional snowboarding. I have traveled all over the world meeting all kinds of people and experienced far more then what I could have imagined. I recently worked on a project as the principle photographer for Travis Rice’s Art of Flight movie where I photographed the most progressive backcountry riding to date.
People tell me all the time how lucky I am to do what I do. I disagree with them. I worked very hard to get to where I am and gave up a lot to make it happen. I made the change in 1994 when snowboarding was not allowed on many of the ski hills and where it was, most of the skiers there would frown at us and were afraid of the change. We were the dark side most disapproved.
In the end, I didn’t accept all of the advice I was given, I trusted my judgment, I did what felt right for me and took something I loved and made it into my career. I am very fortunate and don’t take any of it for granted.
It’s only when you follow your dream that your dream will come true. In the words of the late Steve Jobs, “if you have a passion for something, find a way to make it your job.”