How We Got Here, Part I

Photo by Kevin Free

So how did we get here? That question could have lots of meaning and lots of answers. How did we get to Middle TN from the homeland of Ohio? That one is easy. I was in college here when Kev and I got married and he fell in love with the place and never wants to leave. How did we get this far in life? That one I ask myself everyday and still don’t have an answer for. How did we get to this crazy, hectic, funny, full and sometimes overwhelming kind of existence? That’s what I’m going to try to answer, and it’s a bit of a winding tale.

A little background is needed to set the stage. Kev is a photography expert. No really, he is. I don’t want to limit him by calling him a photographer, because while he can create gorgeous images that’s not the only talent he has in this area. For 21 years he worked as a photographic lab technician, doing everything from processing film, shooting copies of artwork, printing award winning prints in a darkroom, and running state-of-the art photoimaging equipment. He knows just about everything there is to know about the entire photographic process, from shooting a camera (either with film or digital) to printing the old fashioned way, to manipulating and creating images on the computer and outputting them on various media. I know it sounds like I’m bragging, but I too worked in the photo industry for a number of years and this guy knows his stuff.

Unfortunately in the digital age where everyone has a camera and a computer and a printer at home, there’s not a big need for photography experts. Commercial photo labs are shutting down or seriously downsizing their offerings. This has been happening over the last decade, but more so in the last 5 years.  Fortunately, Kev found a new way of practicing his art and continuing in the field he loves through teaching at the college level. I think it was about 10 years ago when he taught his first community education class at Nashville State Community College, and he instantly fell in love. So when it became inevitable that there wouldn’t be a place in the job market for a photo lab rat forever, he and I together made the decision that he would go back to school with the goal of becoming a full-time college fine arts instructor.

The dates are all jumbled in my head now, but I know it was not long after we rather quickly and unexpectedly became parents (that’s a story for another time) the Kev started taking classes. At first it was a bit tricky (because what we do now is a piece of cake, right?) because he was still working a full-time, daylight hours job. Now he already had an associates’ degree, but it was from a technical college and it was 18 years old at the time so even with transferring those credits he had quite a bit of work to do. Not only was there going to be a lot of work, but he also had to work on his artistic expression. I wouldn’t have called him an artist before he started school. He was and is an extremely technical shooter, but I always thought his work lacked expression. This is what he needed to learn to capture in his images.

So he’s working full time, going to school a couple classes a week, and is a new dad. Then he started working some half days in order to take more classes. Then a little over 2 years ago, he was laid off from the photo lab. At first we weren’t sure how to move forward. At that point he was already a few semesters (and more than a few thousand dollars) into his second college career. There were no jobs to be had in the photo industry. So he decided to find a job that would allow him enough flexibility to continue his education while working as close to full time as possible. That job turned out to be working 3rd shift at the airport.

This post is getting really long, so I guess I’ll make this part one of two. I’ll pick up with the night job, and add in all the various other things we ended up committed to. I’m sure when it’s all done you’ll think we just need to BE committed!

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