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  • Writer's pictureJustin Key

A Kite, A Key & A Thunderstorm

Updated: Apr 11, 2020

For those of you that have been keeping up with my posts, you may be wondering where the photography content is. I assure you it is coming. For right now, I am enjoying the satisfaction of having finally figured out what the hell I want to do with my life.

Based on the internet always reassuring me that, I'm only 25 and I'm too young to have my life figured out, I can assume there are many more people out there that were just like me. The ecstasy of graduating college was cut short when you realized you had no idea what you wanted to do. You finally had your fancy piece of paper covered in signatures and gold foil but that was only a ticket into a void of uncertainty.

It took me three long years and a lot of moving to finally figure out what I wanted to do with my life. Even when I forced myself to pursue my dream, it took a while for the excitement to sink in. As the details are starting to get figured out, things are getting organized, plans being made, I am feeling more and more accomplished.

After college, I moved to Milwaukee where I worked two jobs, one a soul-crushing portrait photography gig in the back annex of a JC Pennys, the other at a garden store that was more enjoyable than the job that put a camera in my hands. Eventually, I got my first 40 hour a week job at an advertising agency. It was a desk job, something I'd never had before and hope to never have again. I developed my editing skills and picked up some new ones. I also established support for the mid-afternoon nap break and learned that staring at a computer all day hurts my eyes.

Had Sarah not presented the idea to pick up and move, I could very well still be at that company. But we ended up in the Mile High City, where I resorted to construction to pay the bills. When I signed up I had the vision of the guys in orange vests on the side of a highway, moving rock and dodging traffic. The reality wasn't far off. I did get an orange vest and would spend my days moving rock, but instead, I was under a research center that had a faulty drainage system. Rather than dodging traffic, I was dodging support beams in a four-foot crawl space, digging out river rock and clay with a shovel hoping I didn't break into a water pocket as we exposed their drain pipes. If I lose my mind at an early age, we can chalk it up to all the times I dented my hard hat.

That experience was short-lived. I eventually found my current workplace at a wonderful photo and art processor. Every day I am surrounded by fine art photographs and people passionate about art. It has reactivated my creativity and opened my eyes to a part of the process I wasn't knowledgeable in.

I spent a long time feeling lost. I worked a few tough jobs that established some standards for myself. I've been sore, I've been worn, I've been exhausted and ready to give up. After all the lessons learned, good and bad memories made, the feeling of finally getting out of the uncertainty feels incredible.

We will start getting into photography, I promise. For now, I want to keep working out the kinks, because every new solution feels like the moment after a thunderstorm. The air is fresh, the world is still, the stress is gone. If you are waiting out your own storm right now, just be patient. When it finally passes, the feeling is well worth the wait. Until then, find ways to enjoy it. I may be in the clear for now, but I know there are more storms brewing. As you will soon learn, I am not the type to stay inside and wait them out. I'm gearing up now so when the next one comes, I can go chase it.

A lightning strike flashes in the purple sky over the water in Hilton Head, South Carolina.

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