Reflections: The Life of a Seagull Dad

According to my wife, there’s a term in the Korean lexicon that describes a person like me: Seagull Dad. It’s a term reserved for dads who work abroad and sends money back home to raise the kids. And maybe once (or twice) a year, a great migration will take place and the dad will get to come home to see his family. While I believe my wife and her people might have their bird species mixed up, I can certainly appreciate the sentiment. After taking the plunge down the rabbit-hole of professional photography, I was overwhelmed with feelings of uncertainty, fear and of course, measured excitement. But with the help of some friends, family and early clients (not to mention healthy servings of elbow grease, business acumen and divine providence), I was catapulted into the life of a not-quite-so-starving (thank goodness!) artist. Nobody saw this one coming; not by a long shot.

And since this isn’t my first rodeo in the life of an entrepreneur, I’d already mentally prepared myself for the blood, sweat and tears that were about to be shed. Not so long ago, I was enduring 8-10 hour round-trip drives along the East Coast on weekends; just so I could stamp my name on a few images and say “Hey, look what I did!”, only to return to seat-warming at some other entrepreneur’s office for 50 hours a week in addition to the 50 hours seat-warming I was already spending at home with post-production work. A few winters ago, I remember driving one of those 8-hour commutes with my pregnant wife, simply because she wanted to tag along on this adventure with me. Shortly thereafter came my first year as a new dad, and already I’ve missed our first Mother’s Day and Father’s Day together as a family. So when people asked me if I did photography “on the side”, one can only imagine the arteries bursting behind my polite smile when I tell them: “No, absolutely not!”

As soon as I had two pennies to rub together, I liberated myself from the dredges of my 8-hour weekend commutes with red-eye bus tickets. As soon as I had two nickels to rub together, those red-eye bus tickets magically transformed into train tickets that cut my traveling time in half: effectively giving me an additional 5 hours a week to be with my family. That in itself was worth the price of admission.

This was the path that chose me, and I’m more than ecstatic to see where it’ll lead me.

While on my 10 day shooting spree that included an earthquake, a hurricane and a seven hour detour back home, I had plenty of time to reflect and appreciate my blessings. And while I dreadfully missed my family, they were with me every step of the way – as they’ve always been. Such is the life of a “Seagull Dad” :).

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Northern NJ, NYC documentary Wedding Photographer, Educator & All-Around Nice Guy

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