My Second USA TODAY exit Anniversary is today

It's been a busy two years, even if some of the stuff I hoped to do never happened

Today, 1/4, marks the second anniversary of leaving USA TODAY after a multi-decade career, and I’m celebrating by looking back at hopes and dreams expressed in 2021 and what came of them.

I made sure to do multiple exit interviews at the time, where I outlined my plans. Thanks Jan Schrieber for asking the questions in the above video!

  • I said I would focus on PhotowalksTV, my travel photography series on YouTube. I did do that. Except then we were transitioning to bring the show to Amazon Prime, which fell through. Then we ended up at Tubi and the Roku Channel, as well as renewed emphasis onto YouTube, where views have doubled since. Thank you Photowalks viewers!

  • I said I was going to write a series of E-books, companions to the show. Never happened. I said I would write a book about iPhone photography. That didn’t happen either, but hopefully in 2023 it will.

  • I said I would start a new website, with different photographers offering their tips on the best photo sites in their area. Thebestphotowalk.com launched, but I didn’t like the workflow on WordPress, nor the way it looked, so I gave up the site a few months later.

    What I did do:

  • PhotowalksTV: Produced 109 new episodes, from Savannah, Georgia to Paris, France.

  • Newsletter: penned 267 editions.

  • Podcasts: recorded 52 episodes

  • Wrote ten articles for the AARP website, 29 for photo publications Petapixel and 24 for DIY Photography, 1 for Investors Business Daily and 76 for the local Easy Reader community paper.

  • Taught six photography classes for the KelbyOne website.

  • Countless paid photo gigs.

  • Music: I composed music and performed for the soundtrack of PhotowalksTV, often in collaboration with Paul Ellis. We even played guitars together at the Manhattan Beach Roundhouse for a benefit.

  • Consulted for two photo companies.

  • Led live photowalk events in San Francisco (Mission Murals, Ferry Building, Fort Point, Chinatown) Flagstaff, Arizona, San Luis Obispo, Pismo Beach, Palm Springs and Manhattan Beach. Our next one is slated for San Diego, on 2/11.

In the video interview above, I talked about wrapping up USA TODAY on 1/4 and then heading on 1/5 for a few days to a condo in Palm Springs. There I lounged in the jacuzzi and reveled in grilled cheese sandwiches from Sherman’s Deli down the street. Ruth and I also turned on the TV and were appalled by what was going on in Washington. Little did we know the half of it.

The date: January, 6, 2021.

As fate would have it, we are scheduled to return to Palm Springs again on Monday, (the 9th), as the desert is amazing in January. But here’s hoping things have calmed down in DC by this time and we don’t have to turn on the TV.

At all.

Meanwhile, how did it feel to step away from a job I had forever?

Great! It gave me the freedom to follow my passions and focus exclusively on photography, PhotowalksTV and the various offshoots. I realized I still love to write, and follow that interest with my newsletter, which thankfully, many people seem to enjoy reading.

But even though I was a writer first for so many years, I now make more money from photography. So that’s a switch.

I miss the ability to open doors with the ease I could by announcing that I was from USA TODAY.

But the alternative: being on your own and no mandatory meetings, bosses to report to, having stories assigned to me that I didn’t want to write, not sharing the success of a popular podcast or widely read article—this is well worth it.

If you work hard, you can still open doors, just differently.

Meanwhile, what’s up for 2023?

More newsletters, episodes of PhotowalksTV, podcasts, photo gigs, music, classes for KelbyOne, live events, perhaps that iPhone photo book and lots of travel: Tampa, Florida, Atlanta, Solvang, Pismo Beach, Joshua Tree, Europe, Columbus, Ohio, New York and on and on.

Next stop: Palm Springs.

Is there any better anniversary present than the desert and grilled cheese? Sherman’s, can we put in our order early?

As I said the other day, thank you 500,000 ways for joining me on the ride!

Jeff