We had the good fortune of connecting with Eric Pohl and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Eric, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
From daily tasks to life-changing decisions, everything in life has some level of risk. For the most part, the things with the most reward carry the greatest risk as well. How we balance rewards versus risk is what makes the difference. For me and my career, it’s been an up and down series of calculated risks and learning hard life lessons from failure. As a teenager and young adult my passion and hobby was photography. I was also heavily into fine art (drawing and painting). However, in my view, photography and fine art were not viable career paths for me. Even though I have a natural inclination to be entrepreneurial, freelancing at that time seemed too risky and I didn’t know anything about the business side of it. So I took the easier path. I began teaching myself graphic design concepts, design software and even got into coding and web design. I started my first job in graphic design at the age of 19. And for the next 15 years, I went through cycles of being employed full time to investing in and starting several freelance businesses that failed off and on through that time — all revolving around graphic design and websites. All the while, even though I loved design, branding, website development and the like, photography was always my weekend passion. I wanted to be the guy shooting the interesting magazine assignments or the commercial work for restaurants and food-culture companies. However, it all seemed like a pipe dream and a risky proposition to completely change careers and go freelance again after so many failures. But I have a stubbornly tenacious side of my personality that sees failure as a challenge. My life changed when I met the amazing person who would become my wife. She not only inspired me, but constantly encouraged me to pursue photography. So for the first time, I started to think seriously about photography as a career. Her unwavering support led me to jump in feet first and take the risk. I left my safe job in marketing for a large restaurant company and started my freelance photography business at the age of 35. Today I’m a full time freelance photographer specializing in food-culture, lifestyle and brand storytelling. Ironically, design/consulting is now my side-hustle. I shoot for a variety of editorial and commercial clients both locally and nationally. It’s very fulfilling and totally worth the risk. And I’m even pursuing fine art again and am on the roster with one fine art gallery so far. So the bottom line is, calculated risk is worth it when pursuing your dreams. The caveat is that it’s often times a bumpy road to that success. You’ll make mistakes, you’ll have failures, but take each as a gift and a lesson. Never give up on a dream. My failures are my guide to my success. Learning the hard way what not to do, gives me to tools I need to do the right things. Without my failures, I’d have no foundation for success.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m an photographer specializing in crafting thoughtful visual stories for editorial and commercial clients with an focus on food-culture, places and experiences. Driven by my natural curiosity, much of my work explores the story behind where food comes from, how things are made and makers who craft things by hand. I love the challenges and rewards of working assignments on location. Whether I’m photographing oystermen on a boat in Galveston Bay, or artisans sculpting molten glass in a sweltering studio, my aim is to capture the visual narrative and subtle details that tell the full story. I try to bring an upbeat optimism and uncompromising work ethic to every project.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
The Houston museum district is a must-see. In fact, you could easily fill an entire week with amazing Houston museums, but the Museum of Fine Arts, Museum of Natural Science, Menil, Art Car Museum, Space Center, the Orange Show and the Battleship Texas are a few of my personal favorites. For a taste of Houston cuisine, I’d recommend Cajun Kitchen in China Town for their Viet-Cajun crawfish, Taste of Texas for an amazing steak, Ninfa’s (original location) for Tex-Mex and Killen’s for barbecue (specifically the gigantic 1-2 pound beef ribs, which are like tender brisket on the bone.)
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My shoutout is to my parents, who always wholeheartedly supported and cultivated my artistic endeavors. And to my amazing wife, the love of my life, who inspired me and constantly encouraged me to pursue my dreams. Her unwavering support led me to take the leap which turned my passion into my career.
All images © Eric W Pohl