Monday, April 20, 2015

Snap All Day

Photographs. SnapChats. Images of anything. Images of everything. It’s as if he snaps a picture with every breath he takes. JJ has taken so many pictures that what he posts on Facebook is maybe only 0.0001% of his gallery, and even then I am running out of space on my android device due to all the pictures I’ve saved of his.

I always knew JJ was a passionate chap. We met in college through a mutual friend but never really became close until I started working with him at Paylocity, a small payroll start-up company at the time. JJ is a charismatic, funny, intelligent, down-to-earth cool guy that everyone loves. I used to constantly call him Will Smith because his persona reflected that of the Fresh Prince. In fact, he even wrote his own music and rapped. This guy can flat out electrify a room if you put him on stage and hand him a microphone. “Tik tak get back” JJ’s on the fast track.

But was he? He was working at Paylocity with me, in the suburb of Arlington Heights, IL, making less money than Uber drivers in Chicago make today. All he had in his career was the dream of making it one day. Maybe as a platinum label rap star. Possibly as a Robert Whole recruiter. Perhaps as a freelance photographer?

The passion I saw in him rapping may not even come close to the determination he has photographing. Hand him the mic and he’ll make magic. Hand him the camera and he’ll disappear for days. Then he’ll post his work through countless social media vehicles and you’ll know exactly where he was. It might even wear you out…but not him. JJ is relentless with the camera.

And his work has paid off. It makes me so proud to see him having recently landed a big-time photography contract with Super Bowl 50 in San Francisco. This may not be a lottery ticket, but it certainly is a huge step in the right direction, in gaining the acknowledgement and certification that he is doing great things in this world – that he has found his true calling. It is a testament to the universal advice of following your passions, and chasing perfection, not success.

JJ’s path is an inspirational success story that has moved so many, and it all started with his own move to the Bay Area over 3 years ago, accepting a risky 100% commission-based job as a recruiter, living with 4 roommates, and making hundreds of personal sacrifices to ensure that his dignity and his dreams remained in tact as he hopped on his bicycle, pedaled through every alley, corner, and tunnel of 49 square miles of hilly roads, and snapped a quarter million pictures. I can’t wait to see which photo he posts next.

View all of JJ's work at