The last month that I’ve been home has been an interesting one, a challenging one but rewarding as well. For the first time since I was teenager I found myself without a real “job” or school or other thing to occupy my entire day and needless to say it’s been a brand new experience.

When I first started taking photos a few years ago it was a hobby, something I did between work and finishing college papers. After I started to fall in love with more elaborate and time consuming photos and editing, my hobby grew and it was becoming more of a second part of my life. In the last year I watched it change from hobby to part-time job to my passion and full-time profession, something that I never expected or saw happening.

Despite the fact that I post self-portraits and interact quite freely on social media, I lack a lot of self-confidence. What some people have called modesty is actually a big weight of self-doubt, fear and an invisible tether keeping me from running too far forward. This past month, my first month of my adult life being just “Joel” has been a chance for me to jump, cut that tether and see if photography will lead me to being a better version of myself.

I was nervous coming home from the Trophy Tour and having nothing lined up for 6 weeks, I had no contracts to work on and nothing scheduled to fill my day and that made the overachiever in me a little nervous. But, that’s the exciting part of relying on this new journey, of being my own boss. It’s unpredictable and open but it gives to prove to myself that not only will everything work out but that if I believe in positive things and that it will work out, that it will. And it has!

In the last few weeks I’ve had few moments of down time and that’s exciting to me and my confidence in who I am and what I do is growing.

A week and a bit ago I stood on stage in front of a few hundred students and talked for almost an hour about myself, my story and my work. I shared more about myself and why I create than I ever have and  I was nervous and apprehensive at first but I embraced the new challenge and the risk and at the end, I felt my confidence take another step forward.


A few days later I met with a talented young photographer and we worked together on a few photo ideas that we each had and it was refreshing to share my locations, ideas and techniques with another photographer. Being able to watch another photographer try new things and succeed confirmed to me that I know what I want to do with my  photography. I want to make people see new things, try new things and embrace a new part of their imaginations.

NathanBehind the scenes



Photo by Nathan Hilton

Last week on a whim I flew to Atlanta to visit the World Of Coke museum where an entire exhibit of photographs from the Trophy Tour are on display for a few months. When I turned the corner and came face to face with an entire wall of my work, a visual representation of the last 9 months of my life, I felt tears building up in my eyes. As a kid, as an artist I’ve always respected Coca-Cola for being such a strong visual company. They respect artists, want to use art in their marketing and media and now here I was in a museum a few steps away from where a Warhol and Rockwell were hung with my photos. I felt my confidence take another step.

World of Coke World Of Coke


This month of “freedom” has quickly turned into one of working with companies and magazines from different countries, planning a life changing adventure for the next year in my life, working on exciting Harry Potter photoshoots with an imaginative young fan, and signing contracts that will again help push my confidence up.

Harry Potter


The point of this blog post isn’t to brag or to celebrate myself but it is hopefully an opportunity for anyone that feels the way I do, an artist who struggles with confidence and finding themselves in the world, to see that the reward is worth the risk of trying. That if you believe in yourself, your work and that it will lead you along the right road everything will be just fine.

On to the next adventure!