I finally quit my job. Well, kind of...

This isn't another post like the ones we see all the time. The classic: "I was so sick of the 9-5 grind that I'm just quitting and packing up my dad's Jeep to hit the road, all the while crossing my fingers  that my freelance career picks up and I gain a million Instagram followers and all the coolest brands suddenly are reaching out to work with me." Or even better, "I think I'm just going to drop out of college and travel, and since I have all these Instagram followers, I've pretty much got it all figured out." 

Side note: I'm applying these thoughts mainly to those thinking about pursuing adventure and travel photography - not wedding, engagement, etc., for that's an entirely different field.

I'm all for dropping everything and taking risks. I've absolutely taken my fair share, but when I see people talking about doing things like stated above, it really makes me wonder how far into the future they're thinking. Following your dreams is one thing, but compromising your future is another altogether. I could go on and on about this subject, but I'll save that for a future post. 

Through this process, I hope to encourage you guys that it is possible to pursue freelance travel and photo work, all while making legitimate investments into your future. Investments that companies in 5, 10, or 15 years will actually want to hire you for once Instagram is dead and nobody cares that you had 500k followers on an irrelevant platform.

Yes, there's tons of people out there who are doing incredible things with their freelance career after dropping out of school or a job, but they also put in hundreds of hours to get to a point where they could legitimately pursue clients and make ends meet. This is incredible to see happen, but it didn't happen overnight, as so many of us dream that it would. Nothing has been better than seeing my friends who have slaved over their passions finally catch their breaks. It's really awesome.

This post is more for those who haven't done the work, don't know what the next steps are, or even what they 100% want to do. That was me just two years ago, and I'm still figuring it all out.

So how did I get to this point where I'm quitting my full-time agency job?

This time a year ago, my friend Kyle and I were toying around with hitting the road for a few months to make a movie. It was just an idea at the time, and it turns out forsaking this project was the best thing that could have happened to me. I truthfully wasn't ready for it, and there's no way it would have turned out how it needed to in order to be successful.  

The year before that was spent traveling, getting better at photography, and figuring out how I wanted to use it in a professional sense. It was during this time that I uncovered my passions for storytelling and digital marketing, and I was desperately looking for a way that I could use it to make ends meet. I never thought I'd be able to do it on a freelance basis, but I just couldn't figure out what the next steps were.

The years before that were spent at college, where I studied business and communications, which turned out to be vitally important to running my own business, as well as having a degree I could fall back on if things ever went south. A degree isn't everything - in fact, it's not a guarantee to success whatsoever. But, it certainly doesn't hurt. And college can be a fantastic place to learn, grow, and mature as an individual, as well as build a network of people that care about you and could help you in the future. All of these can be extremely important things in being successful down the road. And the ability to apply these skills to your own photography business is incredible valuable.

So flash forward to today, the first day on my own as a freelancer.

Why did I make this decision?

Over the past year, I was able to learn firsthand about how an agency works, which meant everything like pre-production, content creation, finalizing deliverables, and financials. These were something I had direct exposure to. It completely redefined how I dealt with personal clients, and gave me the knowledge and insight into how running a media company works, which is essentially a collective of freelancers working together on bigger projects. This knowledge is 1000% transferrable to doing freelance photo and video work, and has given me the ability and confidence to actually pursue clients like never before. 

Being around likeminded people always keeps the creative flow going, and it's even better when they are guys who have been in the industry for over 20 years. Just that exposure alone was worth working an office job.

Keep in mind, you can always learn these skills on your own. The internet has been crucial in my development as a professional. But, the ability to learn, while getting paid, is one I can't recommend highly enough. While I wasn't always using photography on something I was super passionate about, the learning process helped to set me up so that I could be successful with the things I'm passionate about. 

During this time, I traveled when I could and used weekends to get out and shoot. This is certainly not the worst thing in the world if you live somewhere that has cool spots just a few hours from you. I unfortunately don't, which only made the past year tougher.

What advice do I have for others thinking about quitting their jobs, dropping out of school, etc.?

I hope to dive deeper into this in the future, but my ultimate advice would be to carefully plan your next steps and ask yourself the tough questions. Is dropping out going to to really let you have more time for legitimate work and improving your skills, or do you just want to travel? There's a huge difference there.

I'd also look 5 years down the road and ask yourself where do you want to be, what do you want to be doing, and how can you make that happen for yourself. Planning is incredibly vital to life. 

I'd also give legitimate thought to the Instagram game, and asking yourself what you'd do if it disappeared tomorrow. Would you even shoot or produce content? Would you have skills to work at a job? What kind of job would you want to work? Don't put all your eggs in one basket - this can be incredibly dangerous. 

What's next for me?

Like I mentioned, this decision was extremely well thought out. In fact, I've been planning how to make this step for over 4 months now. I wouldn't have done it without being able to line up enough clients and legitimate work for the next several months. And I wouldn't have been able to do that if I didn't grow my business, photography, and video skills over the last year with my agency.

The next few months will be filled with travel, freelance photo and video work, and then a career transition to another full-time job this fall, which I couldn't be more excited about. 

The journey will certainly be challenging, but I couldn't be more excited for it. I hope to document it all, and give as much advice and guidance to people who need it along the way. 

As always, feel free to reach out if there are any questions I can answer, or advice I can give.

Thanks for following along. 

- HB

From My Time in Switzerland

In October 2015, I had the opportunity to travel to Europe. After flying into Germany, I had a couple days to travel to Switzerland before coming back and boarding a place to Norway (which I almost didn't make, but that's a story for another time). 

Knowing nothing about Switzerland, except for the two places I NEEDED to visit, I purchased a ticket for travel within Switzerland and left from Frankfurt on a train. My first stop was Zermatt, which was around a 8 hour train ride. Late in the afternoon, I finally transferred to the last leg of the train ride that would take me to Zermatt.

As we neared the town, I realized that heavy fog and rain were setting in. Without cell phone service or internet, I had no way to check the weather, so this was a surprise to me. I got off the train and of course, I couldn't even see the Matterhorn, the reason I came to Zermatt in the first place, as the town sits at the base of the most iconic mountain in Europe. It also turns out that the weather was too bad for the lifts to be open for the next 24 hours, essentially leaving me with nothing to do in the town.

After grabbing dinner, I made the decision to leave Zermatt and head for Pizol, the next place on my list. This was a tough decision, as I had come so far out of my way to get here, but there was just nothing I could do at that point.

So I guess now I can say I've been as close to the Matterhorn as you can get and not see it. 

I was obviously a little irritated, but as I've learned so much through traveling, you have to be able to roll with the punches and keep a positive attitude. Getting on another long train ride was legitimately the last I wanted that point, but I knew that I had to do it in order to make the most of the little time I had.

Making sacrifices in order to see and do amazing things is what makes traveling not for everyone. Few people can truly see the end goal in sight and be willing to do the difficult things to get them there, whether saving up to travel in the first place, or getting up at an insane hour to see the sunrise, it just isn't for everyone. And that's okay. But it's one of the things I do best and love about traveling, and because I know the work and dedication that I've put in to getting myself in front of amazing places, it makes that moment so much more gratifying.


The train ride to Pizol was around 6 hours, so I wouldn't be getting to the town until well after midnight. I had nowhere to stay, no way to contact anyone, and legitimately had planned on sleeping on the street that night (sorry to my mom and girlfriend) when I got off the train, all to hike high in the Alps the next morning. 

After a grueling train ride, and chatting with an extremely drunk Swiss man, I got off the train in Pizol. Everything was closed and nobody was around. I weighed my options for a few minutes before walking in a random direction, where I'd maybe find a place to stay. Luckily, I happened to stumble upon a cab driver who was able to take me to a hotel within a short bus ride of where I wanted to hike the next morning. Crisis seriously averted. 

So the next morning, I got up to hike the 5 Seen Wunderang, which translates to 5 Lake Hike, as the hike takes you through the Alps past 5 glacial lakes. Ever since my buddy Alex sent me a picture of Wildsee, a lake on this hike, I knew I had to go. 

As I descended up the chair lift, I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I'd been to the Canadian Rockies before, but this was surreal. I started hiking, which was difficult as I had to carry all my luggage with me over 11 miles of insane elevation gain. Nevertheless, it was one of the most amazing hiking experiences I've ever had. 

The last lake on the hike was Wildsee, just about the only thing I needed to see in Switzerland before I left. I still remember the moment when I climbed over the hill to see the lake before me, surrounded by epic, snow covered crags. It was the definition of mind blown. 

I made my way back to the chair lift, knowing I had just had the experience of a lifetime.

I then got on a train where I made my way to Lucerne for the night and watched some rugby in an all too crowded pub.

While traveling without a car in a place like Switzerland is certainly something I will never do again, it was a crazy experience. I learned a lot and gained a ton of experience in overcoming things like language barriers and a lack of cell phone service. Believe it or not, its actually a good thing to know how to do. 

One thing that has stuck with me more than the photos was the crazy experiences I had in Switzerland. I'll admit, I wish I had taken a lot more photos and had gotten certain angles of things better and all that, but I've come to the reality that sometimes you just need to drop the mindset of a photographer and just enjoy it all, because that can detract from your experiences in ways you won't even know. While it's awesome to get every shot, its about the experiences you gain. A photo can't capture that as well as you can remember it.