Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Storm Chasing and Making Money

I've been a bit of a crabass lately, so its time to rant on a popular debate in the chase community. The whole issue when it comes to storm chasing and making money.

First and foremost, if you are a new and aspiring chaser hoping for big fame and big bucks for the latest and greatest tornado video. Don't even bother. The market is extremely tough, and in this day and age even if you get a good shot one of 2 things will happen.

1 - Someone better than you who already has the connections will get a better shot or
2 - Some dipshit with an I-phone will give the news a crappier shot for free. The news could care less about quality.

The big debate revolves around those who want to make money are said to be less passionate. Are you kidding me?! Often what you see is blanket statements like "I don't care if I make money, I am there for the love of the weather and to save lives." Get over yourself now. I am tired of reading this from people. As if somehow that statement is going to convince me that you are a die hard chaser and deserve to be there more than others. Please, you ain't fooling anyone except those who try and spout the same bullshit. Then you can all rally together and stroke each others egos.

There is nothing I would enjoy more than being able to make my lifes living off of storm chasing. A pipe dream sure, but a dream none-the-less. I could give a rats ass about a persons "real" job nor do I want to be remembered in life for the work I do. Hey wow, you work in IT! Congrats. PHHHT. Sure, in the grand scheme of things storm chasers may not really matter, but neither do half of the occupations out there.

When I die I want people to think "There goes Adam, he was a badass storm chaser." Not "there goes adam, he was awesome at fixing computers, flipping burgers, filling out tax forms, cutting lawns, driving forklifts, etc etc etc." I think allot of time people assume that those who want to make money off chasing want to become RICH from chasing. There is a difference. I would be happy living in a dumpy apartment or trailer, if it meant I had the freedom to chase. More money is always better, but to me life fulfillment outweighs just how much money I make. If I was handed a job offer for 40k a year that guaranteed a way I could chase when I wanted, I would take that anyday over a job that offered me 100K a year but said I could only have 2 weeks off.

So you better damn well believe I will do everything in my power to make as much money as possible with my chasing en devours. If that makes me a sellout in your eyes thats fine. I don't owe you or anyone anything and you sure as hell aren't going to help me in anyway so why do I care if you think I am a sellout? Have fun not chasing as much as you would like in the meantime, just don't expect me to feel sorry for you because you're stuck in a routine and the storms won't always come within 20 miles of your house.

Another argument is chasing for money turns chasing into work as opposed to enjoyment. While there may be some truth to that it still wouldn't bother me. Its work I would enjoy, and it would be my life. Every job has its stressful moments, its ups and downs. I might as well have my work be my lifes passion, and if I want a hobby I purely enjoy thats where fishing, BBQing and camping comes in.

This all goes back to chasing being different things to different people. If you are happy with your situation thats all that matters. If chasing only a handful of times a year is enough for you, I applaud you and surely don't look down on you. The people I look down on are the ones who whine about their situation and do little to change it. Succeeding in your dream is harder than succeeding in everyday normal life.

Life is hard, and bills need to get paid. I am not blind to this. I may chase allot, but its not nearly enough as I want to because even I still have to do what I have to do to survive. I have given up allot of "normal life" things in order to be able to chase as much as I can though. I was not born into an easy means to chase freely, so for me it has to come with hard work and sacrifice. I've sacrificed moving out of my house when I was in my mid 20s, getting married, having a family, that nice job downtown...you know, all the normal stuff people are supposed to do. That may be the ultimate goal for many, its just not mine.

I think the bottom line is, even if I never make another penny doing it, I am still going to do it. But as long as I am doing it, I am not going half ass it, and will do everything in my power to make the most from it. I think allot of people fail to grasp that concept. Do I think I am better? Certainly not and sometimes I have a struggle from within thinking I am making the wrong decisions and that I wish I wasn't a slave to this desire. Its a tough battle to fight trying to climb your way up from the very bottom.

Basically, if you don't want to make money from chasing then good for you, but you are not better than anyone, you are not more passionate, and it doesn't give you anymore right to be there than someone else. So STFU, and thats where I stand on that whole issue.

EDIT: While discussing this entry on facebook I summed it up quite nicely and wanted to add it in here.

Really the point I am trying to make is who cares what others are doing and that none of us are better than anyone else. Do it for your own reasons and enjoy it. I think WE ALL do it for the love of storms. That is the ONLY THING that fuels us to go out there. What spin you decide to take on it from there is up to you, and no matter what that is, you have a right to do it.


Shane Adams said...

How odd I find this from you tonight, as I was ranting aloud in the apartment earlier tonight getting prepped for the next show. You actually have the opposite view of me on this subject, for the mere reason that once ANYTHING is about money, that becomes the all-consuming issue above purely enjoying what you're doing. Like you said, you have to pay bills, and if what you love is what you rely on to pay the bills, that stress can rob you of passion.

I respectfully disagree that seeking money from something doesn't cramp passion. Making money if you can is one thing, but seeking (and relying on) a sale as part of your every-chase routine is, IMO, making chasing about the sell.

But, I will say that you came to mind during my practice rant as an example of someone who kinda transcends description, a kind of "gray area" person when it comes to this matter. I don't for one second doubt your passion for chasing right now. But if you're planning to seek a sale as a normal part of each chase, eventually I probably will. Nobody can focus on passion when they're counting on that passion to make their living, no matter how poor a living that might be. There's a lot of things I used to love before I tried doing it for money.

mnwxchaser said...

I'm in the middle somewhere between you and Shane. Probably more so towards Adam if I understand the gist of his post correctly. IF I can come up with a creative way to help OFFSET expenses, great...if not, it comes out of the chase budget for the year. If the first occurs, it helps prolong the season or carries over into the following year (no, I do not operate on a state DOT spend it all theory).

What is your motivation Shane of going through the hassle of production chase vids for commercial sales? I'm not trying to be a prick about anything here. Just curious on something as I don't think I've ever asked you this specific question: when shooting chase video, does it ever cross your mind that whatever you are shooting at that moment will make good content for a video you are going to edit and sell? My point is what is the difference between looking to make a sale (and money) from an individual chase or compiling a seasons worth of material for deferred sales later?

Anyhow...just something I have wondered as I am contemplating producing videos for public sale as compared to the trade only policy I have had in place for the past decade. My mentors (Bob Conzemius and Scott Woelm) started doing videos to trade in order to see what others had seen that past season (good or bad)...then of course YT pretty much has killed that art.

Adam L said...

Good replies from you both. Shane I didn't see this when I messaged you on facebook asking for your view otherwise I wouldn't have asked.

I certainly see where you are coming from. I have never really been in the situation though, so until I am I won't know how I actually feel about it.

All I am trying to do in my life is find a way to chase wherever and whenever I want. I don't care what it is that allows me to do it. Ideally it would be something else other than chasing, but until I figure that out, I will keep exploring both sides, and see which one gets me there first.

Dan Robinson said...

I used to have many of the feelings you do about chasing/traveling/living life on the road, and worked very hard to try to make the 'dream' happen. It worked for a while, but the problem is that for all the passion and dedication poured into it, chasing doesn't return the favor in the long haul. I'm thankful I hung on to a stable career that pays the bills, because the days where "life" happens come quicker than you expect. Nothing is worse IMO than the prospect of not being able to take care of oneself someday - not because of some unavoidable tragedy, but because of the choices one made early in life. The mundane office job, as bad as they sometimes can be, can really be the true enabler of maintaining some connection to storms for a lifetime. You can't chase with no money, and believe me, trying to make chasing a career will lead there fast. Take advantage of the freedom that being young offers and chase as much as you can while you can, but realize that one day that is going to have to take a back burner to life, and prepare for that (IE, don't throw away other opportunities). As much as I wish it wasn't that way, it's unfortunate reality. Better to concede to it now that have it blindside you later.