Making Your Passion a Profession

You’re a gearhead. You love motorcycles. You’re never happier than when you are attacking the open road, feeling the wind whoosh around you. You also have a passion for photography.

You become a professional photographer of motorcycles.

An amateur photograph of mine at the Barber Museum in Birmingham, Alabama.

Marc Bondarenko of Birmingham, Alabama, is a classic example of a creative who has turned a passion into a profession. I interviewed him in his photography studio while on my cross-country U.S. road trip. My video interview with him is below.

Birmingham is the home of the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum, which boasts a remarkable collection of motorcycles, including many that won important races. Marc is the photographer the museum turns to when they need new photos for a marketing campaign.

Marc is also the photographer the Guggenheim Museum turned to when it held a remarkably successful exhibit of classic motorcycles and needed photos for its catalogue.

But Marc is more than a gearhead. He’s a people person. He loves interaction with others. He’s an accomplished photographer of people, and connects with his models and his clients.

He’s also a strong example of why, even in an age where everybody owns a quality digital camera, a professional photographer brings something extra to the table. He makes that point well in his video, but I represent that point as well. My photos of the bikes at Barber are nothing like his. And my video skills need work, as you can see by the choppy transitions in the film I made of him.

I love motorcycles myself, have owned a few, and love the freedom and power they bring. That is what initially drew me to Marc. But Marc the people person is who I remember now.

How have you managed to incorporate your passions into your profession?

10 thoughts on “Making Your Passion a Profession

  1. Ha! Does being at home raising children count? That’s my passion/profession right now. Ages ago I promised myself that strangers would not be bringing up my children if I ever had them. I was lucky enough to be able to stay home when they came into my life. I teach them exactly that: Find your passion and ask to be shown how to turn it into a profession. Do not do it the other way round. It rarely works.
    For me at this point in my life it’s all about being creative and enjoying myself. And if money comes from, all the better!


  2. I’ve always loved reading and writing and history, and now I write historical fiction. I’ve long been obsessed with Ernest Hemingway, and now he’s a character in my novel. Yes, I’m living my passion and it’s so fulfilling.


  3. Very inspiring. It definitely takes a lot of work to do what you want to and were meant to do. I’d wager that most people have no idea what they really want to do (or who they “really” are), but the key is to just start. Start things left and right.

    If you’re doing work you don’t love right now, start small projects after work every day. Every single day. It’s definitely not easy, but as Erika and Marc demonstrate here: it pays off.


    1. Hi Tanner. I like the suggestion of starting small projects. It keeps you engaged in what you love and gives you energy to get through your other work, and persistence could lead to opportunities to shift your time to that project over time.


  4. Well, you already know my main passion (fine art, particularly painting, to which I am returning after taxes are done/workshops are ready!). Another interest/passion is the oceans and its creatures. I have used that subject in paintings on several occasions … whenever I feel there is a particular thing I want to say on the topic.

    I recently watched the Animal Planet series “Whale Wars” on Netflix, where I learned about the non-profit organization Sea Shepherd (founded/run by Captain Paul Watson, who was the youngest founding member of Greenpeace). I am amazed and inspired by what the volunteers for this organization have done/continue to do to save the ocean’s creatures – in this case, whales. They literally put their lives on the line to save them. (Talk about passion!!)

    As I started to research Sea Shepherd (based right outside of Seattle!), I discovered that what they set out to do in the series Whale Wars, driving the Japanese Whaling Fleet out of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, was accomplished earlier this year. Hooray!! The fleet had been killing endangered Humpbacks, Fin Whales and also Minke Whales (almost 1,000 a year before Sea Shepherd intervened)in the guise of research (but most everyone believes was really for commercial purposes).

    So what did I do? Of course, I thought of how I could assist the organization via things and talents I already have. I have two paintings I am discussing donating for a potential art auction (though I secretly hope that when they see my triptych “No Foolish Poison” they will see why I think it is PERFECT for them to keep/display in their headquarters). I’ll look for other ways to make a difference for them, too, and make myself available in case they need someone to create art work for them.

    Who knows where this might take me? I don’t know. I just go with my gut, follow my passions and see where it may lead.



    P.S. Might I suggest mentioning that Birmingham is in Alabama? At first, when reading the caption I thought perhaps it was Birmingham, England. The only place I saw that distinguishes it as USA is the face that you were there on your cross-country road trip. Plus, some people who realize you mean US still might not know what state. 🙂


    1. That’s great that you’re making a donation of art,
      Amy, and congrats for following your passion.

      And I added Alabama to the caption; it was in the post itself, but that was a good copyeditor catch.


  5. Very cool story and video. Marc doesn’t *look* like a gearhead – more like a French chef – so I guess that just destroyed another of my stereotypes. 😉

    My favorite thing that he said was about his love of photographing people because “whatever you throw out they give back.” I would imagine that all the most successful photographers must have chemistry with their subjects, even the inanimate objects. The fact that he loves motorcycles makes them come to life through his lens.

    I love the range of artistic expression you’ve captured in your road trip and resulting videos. Can’t wait to see what else you’ve got up that foxy sleeve of yours, Patrick!

    ~ Milli


  6. Pingback: Creativity Tweets of the Week — 6/3/11 « The Artist's Road

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