Had a girlfriend one time tell me that I was just a “glorified bum”. She couldn’t wrap her brain around the concept that I’m a street photographer and journalist and that much of my life consists of being, well, in the street. She couldn’t understand how I could go from breakfast with the homeless at The Mission to brunch with “the suits” at the BB&T building and not miss a lick. She actually, at times, seemed disgusted that I could relax in the park with the Gutter Punks and then 3 hours later enjoy a good meal at Tupelo Honey. Did I mention that she’s now my ex-girlfriend?
I’m fortunate. Many people struggle for years to find the one thing that gets their blood racing. The thing that makes them leap out of bed in the morning and ready to start a new day. Sadly, most of the people that seek, never find. They just live lives of “quiet desperation” as Henry David Thoreau wrote.
I believe everyone is born with a gift, and it’s just a matter of time before they find their calling. I’m often surprised when I meet people who tell me that they haven’t found their passion in life, something to wake early for. I’m surprised and saddened.
I’ve wanted to quit this day/night job many times. I remember when I couldn’t even muster up three good images for a portfolio. I remember some geek (a word by the way, Microsoft Word doesn’t recognize…hmm) telling me I should quit. I considered his advice.
I’m glad I don’t listen to people who tell me I can’t do something. Sure photography has been hell at times: the burn outs, the creative slumps, the endless hours spent processing photos, THE FOOD, the thousands of exposures that have fallen to the delete key. But the worse enemy is doubt. I often wondered if I would be any good. You be the judge from my gallery.
I learned that I must follow the Japanese saying “Fall seven times, stand up eight.” Photography is a continual process of discovery: we can always learn something.
Well the forecast looks sunny. Life is short and if you want something, go for it and get it. As Jimo Perini say, “work till your hair is gray.” My goals of having the best job at the biggest paper/magazine changed. Whatever paper or magazine I am shooting for at the moment, I still want to make big pictures.
But most importantly, I want to take long showers, dance like nobody’s watching, and marry a lady with a Harley.
Jerry Nelson is a freelance photojournalist living in Asheville, North Carolina. He has traveled the world documenting the tears, joys, laughter and lives of people everywhere. He currently focuses his camera on the same topics in America. His work has appeared in such diverse publications as USAToday, CNN, Upsurge, Dream Row and others. A portion of his income from each photo shoot is donated to organizations that help the homeless in the communities in which he works. You can see more of his photography by clicking here.