Thursday

Risk & Reward: Growing New Mexico Backroads


Virgin River Cottonwoods at Zion National Park - Five years ago, this photo was featured in the Overland Journal; it was one of my first published images. Beyond the tangled branches, dying light, and radiant rock, the photo represents the humble beginnings of New Mexico Backroads [NMBR]. Back in 2008, I was challenged by my brother-in-law Phil Byrne to start a blog that featured my images and explorations of New Mexico, to build a presence in the 4WD community and inspire enthusiasts and companies to enlist my services. At the time I was struggling to build a niche business from nothing and looking for guidance. It would take a few hundred NMBR blog posts, accompanied by a few thousand photos, before I received my first photo purchase inquiry. That first inquiry fell through, but soon I began selling $35.00 8X12 prints [printed at Sam's Club for $1.99] steady enough to keep my ambitions kindled and bank account in the black. It would be a few hundred more blog posts before the Overland Journal reached out to me for photos. 

As for the guiding and scouting, during the early years (2004 to 2008), I was learning the ropes of building, breaking, fixing, and maintaining a 4WD vehicle. I was leading small trail runs and weekend trips across the backcountry with my local club and other enthusiasts. I was traversing and learning the backroads along the US/MEX border—now one of my biggest specialties. Driving and vehicle recovery were skills that were earned over the tens of thousands of miles of dirt travels. Cutting my 4WD teeth was a long, painful and rewarding period. 

With constant forward motion, determination and ample blessings I've been able to turn it all into a livelihood. Most importantly, I’ve had unfaltering support from my wife Meghan. The Virgin River Cottonwoods image represents the start of a professional career I once dreamed about—a reality now. NMBR services have expanded to include: adventure and landscape photography [for commissions, prints, digital media & publication]; photojournalism [including wildland fire, US/MEX Border and other high-risk assignments]; scouting and consulting for backcountry film productions and commercial photography; overland, expedition/overland and rock crawling guiding services [for New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Utah and Texas]; and off-road driving and vehicle recovery skills training. While each job I do in the field is unique, all of it is rooted in providing strong customer service and support. 

Imagine loving what you do so much that you don’t constantly watch the clock, wait for the weekend, surf the net for hours looking for a visual fix, or yearn for vacation days to arrive. Life is too short to dislike your profession. Take a risk, work hard and go boldly. If the job isn’t out there, make a career where one does not currently exist. Going out on your own will likely double your work hours, slash your income and may result in failure and/or divorce, but the rewards (even with failure) will be immeasurable. Are you ready for your next great adventure? It’s out there…
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