18 Feb
6/365 "Myself" nr.6 by Luca Rossini
6/365 “Myself” nr.6, a photo by Luca Rossini on Flickr.

Sony RX1, 35mm f2 Carl Zeiss
ISO64, f/18, 1/125, raw
200W strobe on boom, over subject’s head, 60×60 soft-box

I feel my being a PhD in biomedical engineering as a second skin, and one that almost suffocates me every time I try to take it off.
Fact is, I didn’t mind leaving my job, even if this will mean interrupting my career and possibly ruining it forever, should I ever decide to go back to science in the future. What oppresses me and makes me anxious is to throw away all the years spent on the books and all the sacrifices I did to pass each and every university class. I remember all of my exams, they were equally horrible, some of them almost impossible, and, while my friends in other faculties were enjoying their “lighthearted university years”, I was missing all their fun and getting very serious.
Why did I do that? I interrogated myself on this very question many times in the last few years, and I now believe that it was mostly not to argue with my parents. They wanted me to go to university, for a starter, and to take a degree that would fit me into the job-market. Studying Philosophy, my favorite topic, was out of the equation, and I ended up applying for engineering because everybody knows that a degree in engineering in Italy means to never have to worry about finding a job, plus it is considered to be the most difficult topic, so just by getting to the end of it I would have demonstrated that I wasn’t that lazy and inconstant boy my parents were always referring to me as.
That’s basically it, I studied all this crazy stuff to prove to my parents (and myself) that I was good enough to do it. I never really liked it, and I don’t know how I hoped to get to like any job about it. But my parents were eventually proud of me. Plus, it is true that I was lazy and inconstant, and those university years changed me because there was no way I was going to pass even one of the exams without some serious dose of self-discipline, hard work, and full time dedication.
Now I’m back were I started, with the difference is that I’m not eighteen anymore, and I have gained this enormous set of knowledge which I’ll most probably never use in the photography/art business. And I’m wondering, should I lose this second skin to better see who I am, or is all of this going to be part of myself forever?

4 thoughts on “6/365 “Myself” nr.6”

  1. Luca, as an ex-electrical engineer, I had found myself going through the same thought process. I finished my degree in engineering just because I didn’t want to extend out my uni days much longer. Took a job that leveraged my engineering part, but not the “electrical” part. Then I went to grad school to get my MBA. Graduated as the dot-com bubble burst and got laid off after a short run in strategic alliances. Long story short, I found myself in a dead-economy and started doing contracting work in brand consulting + Actionscript coding and animation. Eventually formed a creative agency with my wife. Closed it after a couple of years as business development wasn’t very fun. Took a job at a creative agency managing a team of designers and a major account. Found myself firmly set into the creative agency world. That was 7 years ago.

    The lessons I got from that journey is that: a) pivoting a career into creative is possible, b) leveraging my technical background was key, c) contracting is a good way in because it helped me build a track record as I got paid.

    You’re going to find that all those grueling years in engineering will actually help you carve your new path forward—yes, even in the creative world. Best of luck to you! I’m enjoying the start of your new series!

  2. Hi Luca! I’ve been following your site since you started with the 365+1 project; we bought our NEX 7s at the same time. I’ve been meaning to write to offer you encouragement as you take these tough steps. Like you, I’m an engineer and a photographer (robotics), but I bought my first SLR more than 50 years ago. I’ve been struggling with “unleashing the poet within”, and working from the right side of the brain, instead of the left so much. I also find joy in architecture, and have designed and built two houses in the last five years.

    There are two people who have especially inspired me, and I wanted to be sure you knew about them:

    Bruce Barnbaum (www. barnbaum.com)

    “Bruce’s educational background includes Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in mathematics from UCLA in 1965 and 1967. After working for several years as a mathematical analyst and computer programmer for missile guidance systems, he abruptly left the field and turned to photography in late 1970.”

    And Ming Thein (www.mingthein.com/aboutcontact) who graduated physics from Oxford at 16.

    Those of us with technology as a background are especially blessed, in that new technical challenges can quickly become new tools, and rarely challenge our esthetic quests.

    I’ve never met anyone who has completed a doctoral dissertation who did not also learn how to write really well. I’ve enjoyed your photos tremendously, but also your PROSE. Please continue to write! And, let us all know as your journey continues.

    Best wishes always,

    Jim Yount

    1. Hi Jim, thanks so much for your super-motivating words!
      I enjoyed the two photographers you mentioned, and I’m really glad to see how things can work out properly to those who dare leaving a scientific/technical career for a creative/photographic one.
      I agree that our technical background, as engineers, put us on a vantage point when it comes to using/abusing/exploiting any technical equipment…
      I’m glad you’re enjoying my writing, I used to dream about becoming a writer when I was younger…

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