Blue Earth
Glazer's Camera

Jim Dines: Photography as a Second Career

To show contrast, Dines juxtaposed a beautiful woman with an individual landscape in Iceland. To show contrast, Dines juxtaposed a beautiful woman with an individual landscape in Iceland.
© Jim Dines

A look at a successful financial advisor who has shifted gears to follow his passion for photography.

It wasn't long ago that most people spent their entire working lives in one career and often one company. But times have changed.

As the average lifespan increases, seemingly in inverse proportion to the average length of a typical career, many successful professionals are finding more time to gravitate toward other activities — secondary vocations that may not be their chief source of income, but that are demanding enough to be called careers.

Photography, an inherently creative and usually solitary pursuit, has proven to be a popular choice for many businesspeople with a need for self-expression. Although there is no shortage of weekend warriors with autofocus SLRs and basement darkrooms who think they are the next Annie Leibovitz, a select few have been able to become nearly as successful in photography as they were in their initial professions.

We spoke to five people who were at the top of their fields — a software engineer, a surgeon, a forensic pathologist, a financial advisor and a business executive — before taking on a secondary career in photography.

Today, all have received high praise and recognition for their photography via published books, touring exhibitions or both.

Together, their successes are proof that creative and motivated people no longer have to decide between the careers that they love and the careers that they need to pay the bills.

Financial Advisor to Photographer

When he was first introduced to photography, taking a picture was something just short of miraculous to Jim Dines. "As a child, I was fascinated that I could reproduce an image," he says. This philosophy made him see each photograph as a one-of-a-kind slice of life.

Dines grew up in picturesque San Francisco and started out thinking of photography as his first career choice. "I had a hard time making money at it, so I had to develop a new career," he says. "If there were enough money in it, I would have been a full-time photographer."

Instead, he developed a very successful career as a financial analyst. He still publishes a financial newsletter, The Dines Letter, but his love of photography never dwindled. In his spare time, he continued to take pictures and began selling his work to the fine-art divisions of stock agencies.

Dines is not one to mince his words about what he's observed in the stock world. "I'm just outraged at the way photographers are treated," he laments. "Nowadays, stock agencies take the lion's share of photographers' sales." He fears that the current stock arrangements will drive the true photographic artists out of the industry. "If that happens, as a society, we all will suffer," he says.

Today, however, with money no longer an impediment to pursuing his photographic passion, Dines is enjoying great success as a photographer and is a field contributor to magazines worldwide. His high-end fine-art photographs are popular sellers internationally, via stock agencies and through his website. He travels extensively, looking for just the right image, which sometimes requires him to visit sites more than 70 times, waiting for the proper lighting conditions and angles. "I try to see what's extraordinary in the world and capture it in a way that lets me bring it back to others," he says.

"The earth is gorgeous," says Dines. It's a sentiment that he explores in his book, "Secrets of High States." He proudly describes the book as more of a spiritual journey than an ordinary nature book. "The book is an exploration of the meaning of life and self-realization," he says.

Dines' work can be viewed on his website at photocyclops.com.

Marilyn Morgan
Story Author: Marilyn Morgan

Marilyn Morgan is a Seattle-based freelance writer and photographer.

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