I never made an attempt at some sort of end-of-the-year summary for 2017 as many of my counterparts did. Here it is, over half way through 2018 and this is my first effort at getting back into blog posts. I haven't created a new post since September of last year. Sure, there were many experiences that yielded opportunities to write. Traveling, photography, business, creativity, ideas, heartbreak, Spirituality, and renewal are some of the things that come to the forefront of my mind. I'll try to be brief as I catch those interested up-to-speed with what I have been up to the past few months.
SUMMARY OF 2017
2017 took me to 37 different states.
I launched an entirely different photography and video brand for weddings named Passenger Atlas.
I photographed over 130 shoots (not counting days while on tour).
I toured the nation photographing Less Than Jake, Kash'd Out, Pepper, Red City Radio, Brightside, We The Kings, Cute Is What We Aim For, Stages and Stereos, Rookie of the Year, and Ashland.
I photographed Grammy award winning artist Yonrico Scott, formerly of The Derek Trucks Band.
I was published in THOM Magazine, Rovers Magazine, Good Grit Magazine, Clutch Magazine, and Blues Magazine.
I photographed an ostrich skin leather vest by The Row (Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen) that was valued at $35,000 list price.
I loved deeply and genuinely. I lost love profoundly. The world that I thought was permanent fell apart completely and the trajectory of my life took a nosedive. I will not be sharing any specific details in the blog post. I decided to take a serious look at myself in the aftermath of everything. Feelings of heartache, worry, betrayal, anger, and uncertainty all but consumed me. I made some terrible mistakes, too. My drive for creativity was eroding. My shrewdness for business was diminishing. My faith and hope in love was damaged. I needed help. I had never been to formal counseling in my life until November of 2017. It ended up helping me a lot. My family and true friends have been an invaluable source of encouragement and support. They are a blessing. There is always Peace to be found in the midst of chaos. Also, I can still affirm that God is real and working in my life.
I was grateful to get away from Georgia when my family announced we would be spending Christmas in Nashville, Tennessee. My mother's family is originally from Nashville. As I grew up my family would travel to Nashville for the Holidays or during the summer for vacation. It has always been a second home for me. While I was in town I did some thinking and took several afternoon drives around town. I enjoyed the time with my family, too.
2018 TO PRESENT
2018 started out pretty randomly for me. I was in the corner of an Irish pub known as JP Fitzgerald's. There I stood in a crowded room on the outskirts of Buffalo, New York watching an Irish folk band complete with kilts and bagpipes when the clock struck midnight... Except it wasn’t midnight? The entire room erupted with joy and celebration five hours before midnight when Dublin, Ireland ushered in the New Year. Then again, at midnight local time, Buffalo, NY rang in 2018 with its Western New York style— Wings, Beef on Weck, and Beer. The Buffalo Bills defeated the Miami Dolphins to make their way to an NFL playoff appearance for the first time since 1999. It snowed a lot while I was in Buffalo as it usually does. And it was cold, bitterly cold. While in New York I had some good talks with my friends Taylor and Trey over wings and locally brewed beer. Both of them live in Nashville, TN and the offer was extended to me that I could move in with them in the Spring. It was decided… I would move to Nashville in April.
On February 24, 2018 I hosted what I considered to be the "last show" at my photography studio in Tifton, Georgia. I have hosted nights of original acoustic music and handmade arts and crafts for a decade at my studio in downtown Tifton. I wanted the last show to be one to remember. Erica Bitting, Brightside, Kade Williamson, Stephen Carey, Derrick Dove, Stages and Stereos, and Derek Sanders of Mayday Parade all played music that night. Luke Sadler, Katie Dickens, Spencer Young, and myself displayed visual art. I had spent a week taping almost every single print I had at my studio to the wall to create a massive display of my photography work.
When the night started I shared a story with the crowd over the microphone. A few nights prior I had a dream. I was standing in the middle of the desert next to an old, abandoned truck. A set of railroad tracks was nearby. Suddenly an old passenger train rushed by on the tracks with a loud noise. Once it quieted down after the train's passing the wind started to blow gently. I turned to survey the area surrounding me. Someone was with me. A photographer had been standing behind me. I acknowledged them with a nod. The photographer held up their camera and asked if they could take my picture. I nodded again. They raised the camera up slowly and I began to smile on impulse. The camera met the photographer's eye. I felt something falling out of my mouth. My teeth were falling out! The photographer started counting "One - Two - Three". Just before the camera snapped I had stretched my mouth very wide to offer the best and biggest smile possible. The camera clicked and the very last tooth fell out of my mouth and landed in the sand. I told the crowd how weird I felt in that moment. I felt insecure and uncomfortable. I then said to them, "We all have moments in our life of fear and insecurity. And it's okay to feel uncomfortable. We have to keep on smiling even if our teeth are falling out. No matter what happens, just know that you can always choose joy."
Over 175 people came to the show at my tiny little photography studio. The structure was built in 1907 and I'm pretty sure that's the most people to have ever been inside the building at one time. People came out of the woodwork to see Derek Sanders play in such an intimate setting. Two reporters covered the event. One story ended up on the front page of my hometown newspaper. I was an emotional and nervous wreck that night. It was bittersweet but I could not have been more pleased, honored, and blessed.
Since April I have been splitting my months into thirds roughly. 1/3 of the time I am in Nashville, Tennessee. Another 1/3 I am in Tifton, Georgia. The remaining 1/3 I am traveling to-and-fro for photography and personal enjoyment. I am still not exactly sure what I am doing or where I will end up long term. I do know that I am experiencing a sense of renewal and new direction in life. I have also landed some cool work with bands, magazines, and portraits. Rolling Stone even picked up one of my photos.
I also decided to try and keep the doors of my photography studio open. I had the idea to start offering the building as a rental space for creatives. My hope is to attract local photographers, artists, other creatives, and as event space. The future is wide open!
To everyone who has ever cared about my photography or about me as a person I just want to say… Thank you. And thank you for reading.
-Daniel C. Shippey