“Take control of your time. I’m understanding more the importance of my own time, both in how I can utilize it to better myself and how it’s a commodity that others are seeking.”
In their own words
Program and Communications Associate for The Literacy Lab. Staff photographer and contributor for Playlistplay, Sofar Sounds KC, and The Record Machine. Founder and Editor in Chief of HearQueer. Freelance portrait photographer. This is probably a longer answer than you anticipated.
I’ve seen a lot of growth in my work in the last couple of years, as a
photographer and writer. This time last year, I’d just gotten back from Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago, and I made it a goal to shoot that festival within the next three years. This year, I flew to Chicago mid-July with ten pounds of camera gear, a pair of jeans, and a few t-shirts to cover the festival for Playlistplay. It’s really cool to take some time to reflect on this kind of progress, and to celebrate that for yourself. This year I also launched a new project that I’d been dreaming of for a long time – a magazine about queer-identifying musicians. It’s still a very young project, but it’s been met with a lot of enthusiasm and it’s exciting to work with a team that’s dedicated to seeing that grow in the next few years. What’s felt really good about becoming more established as a freelancer and founding HearQueer
is that it’s given me space to donate to nonprofits around KC and nationally at much higher volume than I ever have before.
My mom’s family has been in KC for a few generations. Harry’s Country Club on 5th Street used to be a store owned by both of my great-great-grandfathers, whose kids got married and became my mom’s grandparents. The apartment I live in now is a block away from the place where my mom lived as a toddler. When I drive around KC, I feel this deep sense of connection to locations – both those that have a place in my own biography and in my genealogy. It’s hard to leave a place that makes you feel so grounded and rooted, especially as you see it grow and become invested in its communities. I really like to travel, and have been very fortunate to see a lot of different corners of the U.S. in the last few years, but Kansas City has always felt like the place I want to come home to.
A day in the life
My day usually starts with my cat standing on my stomach or over my head. He is, undoubtedly, the most effective alarm clock I’ve ever owned. I get ready for work, have a quick breakfast and cup of coffee, and read a little if I have time. On an ideal day, I can walk the half-mile to my office at the EduHub in Westport. In my blended role as both a program and communications associate for The Literacy Lab, my time is split between helping manage 50 full-time literacy tutors in KC, running social media for the organization, and acting as chief branding officer. As someone who spends a lot of time outside of my day job on “side hustles,” I really appreciate that my 9-6 is also something that I’m pretty passionate about. After work, I usually post-up at a spot like Thou Mayest or Quay for what is likely my fourth cup of coffee to spend time editing photos, writing, or just slogging through the week’s to-do list for HearQueer, Playlistplay, and any other freelance jobs I have lined up at the moment. By the time I’m home around 10 or 11, my girlfriend is usually wrapping up a band practice, recording session, or shift at Mills Record Co., so we meet at home and spend a little time together before calling it a night. I used to marvel at people who could work full time jobs and then commit another 20-30 hours a week on other projects, but I’m finding that this schedule is so doable when you’re taking ownership of your roles and the things you want to accomplish.
Treating every person around me with equal dignity and respect. Striking a balance of confidence and humility in my work and interactions. Being willing to challenge myself and continue to learn well into my 30s, 40s, 50s, etc.
And for taking good pictures.
I own way more toy dinosaurs than someone in their twenties should.
Take control of your time. When I was younger, the time left in my life felt infinite. As I get older, that feels a little less true every year. I’m understanding more the importance of my own time, both in how I can utilize it to better myself and how it’s a commodity that others are seeking. I’m working toward having total ownership of my time, and avoiding the rabbit hole of social media and Netflix. There’s a time and place for utilizing those things as a way to unwind and stay connected to the world, but binge watching Parks and Rec and scrolling through Instagram for several hours isn’t going to help me accomplish my long and short term goal. In the same vein, being able to pursue passion projects is a unique luxury of living in the 21st century. We have so many resources at our fingertips, and it’s not hard to connect with other people doing the thing you want to do. Take advantage of that, whether it’s in taking up a craft or learning a new language, or becoming more knowledgeable in a subject matter that’s interesting to you.