I hope this post will be allowed to live in this forum. I am not seeking specific critique, though I am happy to hear it. Moreover, I'm looking for a place to document the short story of my life as an unknown photographer, in the hopes that some might be able to put their finger on why I remain unknown (not that I am even remotely entitled to being known) and perhaps to bond with other unknown photographers...you know who you are. My love affair with photography began at an early age, perhaps 7 or 8. It manifested itself first as an obsession with cameras as physical objects. I was fascinated by lenses, cameras, optics. I broke my dad's Pentax because I kept cocking the shutter incessantly. In my teens, I began making photographs. At age 19, I dropped out of college, unsure as to what to do with my life (anything besides college). I happened into a job as an assistant manager at a camera shop in New Haven, CT. The year was 1987 With a generous employee discount, I obtained my first real camera, a Minolta x370. I soon upgraded to a Nikon FM2, which was soon replaced by a Leica M6. A 50mm was my constant and only lens companion. I set off to become the next Cartier-Bresson, documenting the streets of New Haven, CT. I joined a local camera club. At my very first meeting, we were asked to bring only the best examples of our work. I brought far too many. The moderator of the club chose 3 photos from the entire roomful of images, with which to begin the discussion of the essence of street photography. Shockingly to me, even to this day, all 3 photos he chose were mine...a 19 year old kid who'd owned a camera for all of 6 months. I shot like a madman for the next year or so. Those black and white film images remain some of my favorites. I have yet to digitize them. After 2 years in New Haven, I was ready for the big city. I moved to NYC in early 1989 and got work in the rental department of a small professional camera shop called Photomarketplace, later purchased by Calumet. I met and rented equipment to dozens of the city's top photographers. Within a few months, I had networked enough to leave the shop and become a freelance photo assistant. Over the next 10 years, I assisted over 100 photographers, from mail order catalog photographers to Annie Leibovitz, and everyone in between. Food, interiors, portaits, fashion, still life, commercial, editorial...I saw it all. I learned the techniques and observed the creative processes of some of the top photographers in the world (and some of the crappiest ones too). All the while, I was shooting on my own. Aside from the occasional bone thrown me by one of the photographers I assisted, I shot mainly for myself. I gravitated towards still life, with a slant towards incidental, natural light still life. That is to say, I never really liked shooting people. And the last thing I wanted to do after working 14 hour days in a studio was to set up my own studio shots. So I wandered the streets in the falling light, looking for happy accidents of light. This is still pretty much what I shoot today. After 10 years assisting, it was time to break out on my own. I compiled a big slick portfolio...images that were a hybrid of my street style and my studio experience...a collection of commercially slanted naturally lit composed still life. I think it was a little too loose for art directors to get their heads around. I got very few jobs. I did however manage to catch the eye of the creative director for a boutique Japanese stock photo agency called Photonica. For a few years, I did quite nicely with them, even getting some assignment work, and some handsome royalties, back before the Internet, back before penny stock, back before Getty bought Photonica and sent all my photos back to me, with a note saying, "we don't need this kind of stuff anymore". And then Getty started charging photographers to submit photos, instead of paying them. Nice while it lasted! Fast forward to the digital era. I've been shooting this entire time, for myself. I regularly submit photos, to blogs, contests, e-magazines, regular magazines, book publishers, galleries, newspapers, etc. All I get, all I have gotten since about 1999, is...crickets. Not even a thanks but no thanks. Literally no replies, from dozens of contacts. Now, I am not a big networker. I have little interest in schmoozing my way into print or onto a gallery wall, and I fully realize that in NYC that helps immensely. But in this day and age, content is king, and great new photographers get noticed all the time, just by posting a few things online here and there, at the right place, at the right time. I'm also not the 20 year old party machine I was when this journey started. Which leads me to 2 possible conclusions. Either I have never been at the right place at the right time, or, my stuff just kinda sucks. I'm ok with either scenario, because I shoot for myself first and foremost, and always have. But my friends and family love my work. My coworkers like it. I've shown it to random strangers and they like it. I've posted it to forums and people I've never met seem to like it. But not a single soul that I've shown my work to, who is actually in any position to show or publish my work in any way shape or form, seems to like it., or if they do, they didn't mention it to me. Maybe they lost my phone number. And my email got deleted. And the follow up email. And the follow up to the follow up... Maybe my work is boring. Maybe it's derivative. Maybe it's too all over the place (though so is the work of a lot of well known photographers). I've never been one to take a theme and make a series of photos. I see a photo, I take it. There are recurring themes in my work, but none deliberate. Maybe my work is too undeliberate. Maybe its not edgy or different enough. Whatever the reasons, my work remains, my work, for me and my friends and family, and few if anyone else. These days I work at one of the top retouching studios in NYC, as the lead retoucher/artistic director of the product/still life department. It's not glamorous, but I do get to see my "work" everywhere. Of course, it's never attributed to me. Or even my studio. Credit goes to the photographer, of there's a credit at all. That's ok. I still hold onto the dream of being discovered, for doing what I've always done...putting a rectangle around a patch of light and pushing a button. I've been doing it for 25 years, and making a living at it, sort of, but I remain largely invisible. Thanks for reading. Thoughts, criticisms, guidance, musings, rants, all welcomed. I'm a thick skinned New Yorker. I bring no ego to my work. Love it, hate it, it's all good.