My first gig with a camera was to play around with Papa Louie's police cameras. He was in charge of the Identification Bureau of the Fresno Police Department, about as close to CSI: Fresno as I ever got. He'd bring home all the photo gear required to photograph a crime scene, and we'd go out and shoot a few pics on the City of Fresno's dime. That led to my first actual "gig" as Boy Scout Troop 51's photographer, at the mature age of 12.
Like any "pro" photographer, I did try weddings, but on the very first shoot, the Groomsmen started hitting the beer keg well before the ceremony, so they were not in ANY mood to have some goober they did not know take their picture. So I swore off weddings in an attempt to avoid the Bride from hell and her parents, and try to stay sane. I moved on to try studio work, with my own storefront, etc. This was inside the same 1906 building in Reedley, CA that Besaw the Photographer was using at the turn of the century. History or not, that didn't pan out either, as I didn't have the patience to wait for screaming kids to stop throwing their tizzy fits so I could shoot their pudgy little mug.
I have been the "official" cast photographer for Fresno Grand Opera for maybe eight seasons now, and twice a year, I go to the William Saroyan Theatre in Fresno and shoot their wonderful operas. After using a few of these images in media and advertising pieces, they would languish on my drives, serving no purpose but to take up space. And more recently, I have had the privilege of photographing the beautiful dancers of Eugene Ballet Company, trying to stay out of the way of the company's "official" lensmen. Again, after shooting these photos and using them for my wife's Ballet Insider Pre-show lectures, the images would sit and basically rot. So I have made deals with both companies to offer these images online though my new Online Photo Marketplace, and will be giving back a fairly generous portion of the gross sales as a donation.
Before I set this store up, I searched all over for a hosting site that offered commercially-licensed digital downloads, where I could set the price to agencies, creatives and graphic designers. This SmugMug site now makes that happen, and essentially creates my very own branded stock photo site. With my own stock photo presence, I can work to drive traffic there, and once the visitor arrives, there will be zero competition from other photographers for their attention and dollar. Sure, I can't price my work like the large high-end stock sites such as Getty, but at the same time I can offer them at prices that respect my talent and years of experience. And I don't feel like a whore by selling them on sites that only charge $1-10 for commercial stock images.