It’s been over two months since my last post here. What the heck have I been doing? I’ll get to that; first a note on my blogging hiatus.

There’s rarely a good reason to point out why you haven’t done something. Doing so only leads to making excuses, and excuses are worthless. One of my biggest pet peeves is hearing someone lament: “Oh, I haven’t been able to do ____ because I haven’t had time!” No, you haven’t made time for ____ , because it’s clearly not as important to you. We do things that are important to us.

Posting on this blog with (at least some) regularity has been important to me since I started the site in 2007. There have been hiatuses, some due to a lack of anything interesting going on in my life, and others (this last one in particular) due to so much other important stuff going on that blogging was pushed past the back burner and completely off the stove.

After returning from a blogging hiatus, I almost always feel guilty. No matter the cause (be it too little or too much going on), I feel like I’ve neglected two important things: flexing my writing & photography skills and filling the long-distance gap between my family and myself.

Since the start of college I’ve lived anywhere between 100 miles (Chicago) and 9200 miles (Australia) from home. Never have I lived close enough to my parents to come by for dinner. Blogging has been an important tool to keep my family in the loop of my life.

But now, after this last two-month blogging hiatus, I don’t feel guilty one bit. Why? I spent the better part of July with my family, some close friends, and Kirk’s family, too. We celebrated the 4th of July on the lakes with Kirk’s family in Michigan, went sailing on Lake Erie, attended a friends’ wedding at MSU, caught up with friends in Chicago, stayed with my parents for a week in Big Bend, visited my sister in Eau Claire and attended a huge family reunion up north, Wisconsin.

Being with my family reduces the urgency to blog about what we just did together. However, it doesn’t make up for neglecting my creative outlet. I love writing, I love photography. It’s necessary to my sanity that I use these skills; it makes me feel whole. In the past, if I wasn’t using these skills here on this blog, I wasn’t using them at all.

I haven’t blogged lately. But, I have been writing and shooting a crap-ton (yes, that’s the technical term) of photography. I’ve been cheating. But with whom? Or, better, with what?

Real Estate Photography. This summer has seen the most San Diego Home Photography jobs, ever. I’ve shot the same amount of properties in the last few months that I’ve shot in the two years leading up to this summer. Most of those were due to a weeklong shooting spree for a single client of more than a dozen properties in La Jolla — photos for which I’m still editing. Yikes.

Lo Jolla real estate photography

Now, real estate photography isn’t new for me, but lately the amount has been so great that I’ve hardly had a chance to shoot anything else. (Except for a few shots for a magazine. Ooh? WHAT? Magazine? Hold that thought.)

The properties I’ve been shooting have become bigger, nicer and, more often than not, staged. The bigger part doesn’t always mean better, though bigger does often equate to nicer. (Exception to that rule: Last week I photographed a 500-square-foot loft in Little Italy that was beautifully furnished, ergo a pleasure to shoot.)

In the past, the arrangement has been as such: I shoot, Kirk edits. Lately, in addition to shooting, I’ve taken on nearly all of the editing, which has allowed me to strengthen my Photoshop skills immensely. Kirk still lends a second opinion and assists with final touch ups, though he’s ceded all the revenue to me, allowing me to pay thousands extra towards the principal of my student loans. Paying off my loans as fast as possible is very important to me. All this photography work is a lot of work, but it also means more money, less loan debt and a faster route to financial freedom (aka cruising the world on a sailboat).

Freelance Writing & Photography. Oh sheesh. I’ve been published in a magazine! I couldn’t be more stoked. Through a friend I met Tim, the owner of Carlsbad Magazine — a local lifestyle magazine with a 30,000-copy distribution. Tim and I had coffee, and he asked what I wanted to do. I said I can shoot photos, but I really want to write. He said, great, we’ll have you do both.

taylor-knox-carlsbad-magazine

Four of my photos were published in the July/August issue (pictured above). Kirk’s in two of them!

A 500-word story I wrote about Seaworthy, a surf shop in downtown Carlsbad, has been published in the September/October issue. My first story in a real publication, ever! I nearly bubbled over with nervousness and excitement when I received the email from the editor with the assignment. After I submitted that story, the editor asked me to write two more short stories for another publication, an arts supplement to Orange Coast magazine called Premiere OC. Both stories took me to Orange County to hunt down interviews. “So what your saying is you’re Lois Lane,” said one of my co-workers from the wine bar. Yes, exactly.

Two weeks back I shot photos of Stag & Lion, a new English pub in town. It was my first foray into food photography — more than just snapping a shot of homemade oreos with a red cutting board backdrop and hideous CFL kitchen lighting. This time was professional. I brought an assistant (Kirk), a strobe and a bounce card. The photos turned out pretty good. After seeing the images, Tim emailed me with this response: “Damn… Great photos of Stag & Lion!!!!! Nice work…” Granted, normally he was the the one taking the food shots — with his iPhone — so yes this was a step up in quality. But even so, those fish & chips did look darn tasty. Those photos will be in the September/October issue, too, and as soon as it’s available online I’ll post the link.

Today I interviewed a local florist about her business for a story I’m writing for the November/December issue of Carlsbad Magazine. Between this story and my first, I’m already so much more comfortable with the process. It’s a lot of work for not much pay (the stories are in fact paid!), but right now, it doesn’t matter. I don’t have a journalism degree or any formal writing experience, yet here I am writing for real publications, which leads me to believe I’m not half bad at this whole writing thing.

Writing a story for publication is so different than writing a post for my blog. Each story has a word count, a topic, a deadline and editor’s standards to meet. Constraints might seem off-putting, but I see them as a challenge. They make me dig deep into my story-telling capabilities, push the limits of vocabulary and test my grammar knowledge. They make me pull my hair out when it seems impossible to untangle knots of ideas into smooth sentences. They make my heart leap with joy when I’ve finessed those sentences into beautiful trains of thought.

Before I let this post run away to extreme lengths, let’s end it here. Now you know what I’ve been up to. Photography out of my comfort zone. Writing with limits. Practicing my passions with constraints has never been so freeing. ☼