Here’s a straightforward article by Adobo Magazine’s writer Mia Marci on John and his passions: photography, of course, especially aerial photography; flying; his pet-elephant, Maali; his advocacy, Photography with a Difference, which works with special children and persons with disabilities; and now his current project – getting R. Hidalgo (the Philippines’ famous street of photo stores) renovated to become a photographers’ haven.
Adphoto was built on the strength of dreams, although sometimes, some dreams have to be nurtured for a long incubation period before they are finally realized. Our dream to have a car studio took some 20 years to come true.
In the 1970’s, our biggest dream was to do beauty shots of cars. I tore a page from a photography magazine that showed a car with a huge electronic flash system (maybe Broncolor) that was almost the entire length of the car. It showed a humungous studio! I pinned the ad on our wall of our third floor, 30-square meter studio. It was a constant reminder of our big dream. In the meantime, since we did not have a car studio, equipment or know-how, we were content doing car photography at our lowly level – shooting cars at a car repair shop. These are cars that were involved in accidents and owners needed photographs for their insurance claims. We charge P15.00 for 3 pcs. 5×7 black&white prints!
Our history of shooting cars – from doing those “bangga” (car collision) photos to doing beauty shots for advertising – is a long but rewarding one. In 1992, we built our first car photography studio – the first in the country for print photography. Through the years, we worked and studied hard to improve our expertise at shooting cars, we reinvested to acquire the equipment that we needed for the demanding work of photographing cars, and in 2003 even built a second studio a few blocks from the first, so that John and G-nie could simultaneously do competitive car shoots while maintaining confidentiality of their projects and without our clients bumping into each other.
Dreams, especially big ones, sometimes take time to germinate, but if we keep our focus on them, one day, it happens – those dreams take on new shapes and become reality! And when they do, then it’s time to create, weave and work on new dreams.
Today, John faced a tough challenge – how to make his topic, “Photography with a Difference – Touching Lives Through Photography” interesting enough to get delegates out of bed for a very early morning (8:30am) talk. Participants in this year’s Photoworld Asia Convention came from all over the Philippines and some Asian countries and as far as Qatar, and paid to learn photo and digital imaging techniques. But there was John, getting ready to get them to do photography that John himself says requires no skill, and no special equipment.
This is not the first time for John to be invited by the organizers of this annual event, but normally, they put him in the first slot after lunch. Unlike most speakers who represent a specific expertise or style, John has been called a serial specialist. He is as adept inside the studio shooting food, products or cars, as he is outside, doing aerial photography or photographing buildings, interiors and industrial sites. He shares whatever he knows, and after almost 40 years in his profession, his reservoir of tips and techniques that he readily shares with fellow photographers is very deep. More importantly, they know that his honest and irreverent sense of humor, his booming voice, and many tricks up his sleeve would wake up his audience any time.
He brought, for example, a few bags of Super Lemons, and had them distributed to everyone in the audience, with the instructions that they may pop the candy into their mouths only when he gives the signal. But wait – maybe I should not tell you about this trick, in case you have never listened to John give a talk.
He also brought a lot of goodies, and thankfully, Canon is one of the sponsors. John has been named a “Canon Ambassador,” together with a select group of professional photographers, so yesterday, John approached their marketing department for corporate premium items to give away. He was like Santa Claus today, giving out Canon books, luggage tags, coffee mugs, folding canvas stools and magazines – to early bird attendees, those who asked questions, and at the end of his talk, when he still had leftover gifts, to anyone who happened to be within arm’s reach.
John is very passionate about the topic assigned to him. To ensure that his audience would be enticed to learn about Photography with a Difference, he gave an unsolicited and un-scheduled mini-presentation, and posted a few photos on the wall during the first days of the conference. And even though he had prepared his talk and audiovisual presentation several days before today, he spent the whole night perfecting his presentation, providing more “success stories.”
To establish credibility with those who were going to listen to him for the first time, he started by very briefly introducing our company and presenting our portfolio. Then, he narrated how “Photography with a Difference” as an advocacy was born, after which, one by one, he showed pictures from more than 25 workshops and photo exhibits that have been done so far. He told the stories of how many workshops were started without any funds, and how they were built on the strength of dreams. He spoke of not having any organization, and on running this entire advocacy on Facebook. He shared the story of his “magic notebook,” where he wrote his wish lists, and dream projects. He reminisced about his meeting with the advocacy partners or sponsors – SM Malls and Canon Philippines. That they had no memorandum of agreement, no written proposals, no contracts – just shaking hands to seal their agreement and resolve to continue with this advocacy. Already running late, he ended his presentation by playing a touching video by Joel H. Garcia, one of the regular volunteers of Photography with a Difference. In that short but heart-tugging video were pictures of visually impaired children who were having the time of their life exploring the zoo, and bonding with their parents and their photographer-partners.
There was no more time for questions, so he invited them to follow this advocacy on his Facebook, or to email him. At this point, we could not gauge how well John had succeeded in arousing his audience’s interest in this advocacy, until the audience stood up to give John a standing ovation!
To give way to the next speaker who had been patiently waiting for his turn to speak, we quickly gathered our materials and moved to the side of the room. Not a few photographers rushed to John to ask him to sign their books, flyers, photos, notebooks, papers – anything they could get where John could sign. Then they followed him still when John left the room, to ask how they could join, or how they could lead such advocacy projects. Two of them were Filipinos living in New Zealand, a couple of Filipinas from the U.S., a Filipino who lives in Guam, and a recently retired military man who himself has a special child. Others were members of local camera clubs. We exchanged business cards, as we promised to send them more information on how they can participate in reaching out to persons with disabilities through the “Photography with a Difference” advocacy.
Like a tireless evangelist, John has planted the seed of his advocacy once again. We will wait to see where the seed will grow, and hope it spreads to other parts of the world.
One of our earliest clients – met through cold calls in 1973 – and who continues to be a client up to this day is JWT (known as J. Walter Thompson, in the old days).
They were then at the Mary Bachrach Building in Port Area. They had a friendly in-house photographer who had his hands full. Art directors and account executives were obviously very, very busy. I was impressed with that busy-ness and waited for the news that they still needed more photographers.
At my first meeting at JWT, I nervously showed my first portfolio to one of their art directors, Ben Canapi, although my appointment was with their Creative Director, David Jones. I waited in the wings for a chance to meet the venerable Edwina Arroyo, also a Creative Director, but we were not deemed worthy until much later.
All we could offer then was 35mm, and that’s the work that they gave us – to produce audiovisual slides for Radiowealth, an appliance manufacturer in the 1970’s, and to reproduce photos of Pepsi winners from the provinces.
Patiently and steadily through the years, we saw our capability grow, and we moved from small format to medium format to large format cameras. JWT was already big when we first met them, but they just got bigger and bigger- moving from Mary Bachrach to the Magsaysay Building on Roxas Boulevard and finally to the very impressive Enterprise Building on Ayala Avenue. We strived, and continue to strive, to give them the high-end photography work that a top-notch advertising agency such as JWT requires.
It’s been 38 years since my first portfolio presentation to JWT in 1973, and I look forward, God willing, to celebrating a golden anniversary of our business partnership with them in 2023.
When we started Adphoto in 1973, it was just John and myself. We had no secretary – we could not afford one. We had to be resourceful or creative to make sure we did not miss any calls or visits from clients.
For a few months, we did not have a direct line. All we had was a local extension that the building telephone operator managed. If no one was in the office, she would just tell the callers that “no one answers.” Answering machines had not been invented yet – or we had not heard of them. We needed to get the telephone operator to help us. John approached her and gave her chocolate candy bars so she would get messages for us, instead of simply dismissing callers by saying we were not in. It worked! As soon as we were back in the office, she would read a list of names and phone numbers of clients or potential clients who called.
To catch those who came to the office instead of calling, I would put up a Magic Slate on the door so that if someone came, they could write their names and contact info on the Magic Slate. When we returned to the office, I would return their calls and then “refresh the screen” by lifting the film. The Magic Slate would once again be ready for another set of names. It was an inexpensive solution, even though I had to replace the Magic Slate a couple of times.
It’s fun to remember how it was when it was just John and myself.
I believe that there’s no one better to evaluate a teacher than a student.
Last Tuesday, I did my first day teaching “Business of Photography” at the nearby College of Saint Benilde. After the period, I asked the students what they thought of the class and how I could make it more interesting for them, as I really want them to to look forward to coming. Although I prepared lots of teaching materials – video, audiovisual presentations, lots of stories and of course, the course matters- I still got the comment that it was “stiff.”
I asked for enlightenment, and I was told that my class was the first and only lecture-type class that they have. As students of AB Photography, it seems all their other subjects are workshops. During their classes, they’re moving around whatever subject or model they’re photographing. Their three hours tick away fast, and the session ends before they’re ready to stop what they’re doing. Whoa, how can I compete with that – in their other classes, they’re doing what they LIKE to do, and in my class, they’re learning what they NEED to learn. They’re DOING something in their other classes, while in mine, they have to SIT, LISTEN or SPEAK (recite) for all of three hours.
My continuing goal is to make my next class better than my previous one. So off to a bookstore I will go, to look for those training books with lots of fun exercises. I think I need to learn how to conduct some relevant physical activities to get them off their seats every so often during the three class hours.
And while I’m on the topic, I better ask the school for more comfortable seats for them.
I’m glad I asked my students, and I will keep asking.
A photographer wrote me for advice. The couple is into the business of photography together. I was asked how to deal with irritants in business that seem to be affecting their home life as well.
I know this challenge very intimately, since I manage the photography business that my husband and daughter are in.
This is what I can say:
On the good side – I heard that couples who are in business together tend to have fewer divorces (obviously, the study was not made in the Philippines) than couples who are not.
A couple could assume business roles that are complementary (one is photographer, the other is in sales), or by working together, they double their strengths (both being photographers).
They know the issues and challenges of the profession or the day’s job, and that knowledge allows them to extend greater empathy and sympathy from and for each other than if they worked in different fields.
On the negative side – there are many challenges, especially when a couple has not learned to separate work from home – whether in terms of time, space or roles.
Another source of conflict is when couples believe that, since they are in the same business, they have as much right and capability to decide as the other spouse on EVERY issue. This is when the decision function is constantly split between a couple, and every argument puts them in locked horns. To remedy this, they need to define the areas of responsibility and authority, and who is in charge of what. Again, respect for each other, and for the agreements that they have reached, will help tremendously in keeping peace at home and in the studio.
Living, as we did and still do, where our studio is located, we struggled with the challenge of separating business from home life for a long time, and from time to time we still do, but we know that we have to make an intentioned and determined effort not to take business issues into our home and vice versa.
From our own experience, John and I know that we would have to put aside personal differences and put on our professional selves when facing clients, and many times, after a long day of doing that, we forget what we were arguing about before the clients came, effectively ending our personal tiffs.
Each type of photography business – portrait, wedding, travel, photojournalism etc. comes with its own set of challenges. Ours comes from the fact that advertising photography is a 24/7 job, and that makes it even more difficult to separate business from home matters.
On the other hand, there are perks for the family that come with the job or the business. Our children are all adults now, but when they were growing up, they enjoyed being able to ride on helicopters when we did aerial photography, or come with us when we were photographing Splash Island, for example. They feasted on pizza, hot dogs and ice cream that we were shooting in the studio. When we photographed rappelling, they tried that, too. Or rode in new cars – our clients’, not always ours. Or met important personalities who came to the studio to be photographed. We strongly believe that our children’s and our lives were richer because we lived where we worked (still do).
There are pluses and minuses, but if you feel bogged down by the minuses of being in business together or having your business at home, here are some things you could do.
1. As soon as it is possible, arrange your home to be physically “separate” from your office and studio – even though they are on the same site and you may have easy access from one to the other.
2. If you have the space, have your own living room instead of using your studio reception area for entertaining your relatives and personal friends or to allow yourself a space for personal relaxation. In our set up, we even have separate kitchens – one for the family and because we do food photography, another for the studio. We also have separate dining areas. If you do not have enough space for separate family and office area, perhaps designating different times for the use of these areas might help. Or, set aside family and married couple times.
Here are a couple of examples:
a. before we had 24-hour Internet and Wifi, we had to set rules and schedules on use of computers for personal use. On the other hand, we appreciated the fact that having the office in the house meant we could have computers and other recreational stuff in the house.
b. when our children were growing up, they were encouraged to write on our white board (where all shoot and office schedules were kept) any important schedules they had that needed our presence – family day at school, PTA meetings etc. Now, we use ICal.
3. Adopt a different look for your studio and another for your home. Our studio is more Western looking, while our house is more traditionally Filipino. It allows you to have a visual cue to drop the stressors of one before stepping into the other.
4. Resist the temptation to bring in office business into the house, especially your bedroom. It took me a long time, and even now I falter, to not talk about business when I am already in the house. Probably as a way to prepare himself for the next working day, John would ask me about his shoot schedules before going to bed – and many times, that led to business discussions, and sometimes, into discussions of issues where we do not have agreement. One thing would lead to another, and we would end up being both upset.
So I learned not to remember his shoot schedules, and I would feign to not have in my head the information that he was asking for. (But now, I don’t need to pretend – I really can’t remember – must be the age!) If, while in the privacy of our bedroom, we drifted into business topics, I would offer to walk to the studio so we could get records, files, etc. John has learned to take that as a hint that it can wait until tomorrow.
5. Realize that good moods and bad moods come in cycles. If there are genuine issues, find a way to deal with them, but it’s just a bad mood – you might just need to let it pass.
6. Find the right time to discuss touchy issues or bad news. As a child, I learned from an aunt not to greet anyone with bad news. Unless it is an emergency, delivery of bad news can wait until the other person receiving it has eaten and rested.
I have also heard the advice – do not go to sleep with anger in your heart, or something like that. Well, when I was younger, I erroneously took it to mean – we should try to resolve our differences before going to sleep, even if it meant still arguing until 2 or 3 in the morning. It didn’t help because sometimes that meant John would have go to an early morning shoot with no sleep at all. I have learned to be less stubborn as well as not to “sweat the small stuff.” Like finding the right time for delivering bad news, I also learned when not to pick a fight.
7. You might need to designate a “board of directors” to help break the deadlocks between you and your spouse. The challenge of a couple being in business together is that the decision function is split evenly between you and your spouse. Sometimes you may find yourselves stubbornly on opposite sides of an argument and with neither of you giving in even an inch. Before this happens, form a board. Nominate and agree on at least three more people to bring in to help you vote on critical issues. Five would be a good number. Let the proponents of opposing ideas present their arguments for and against an idea, and remember to respect the decision of the majority. If you lose, lose graciously – do not take it against those who voted against your idea.
8. For the issues that you and your spouse, or your board, cannot resolve, you might need to take it up with a professional consultant. Resist the temptation to complain to other family members or office staff. Soliciting support from them may just divide you into feuding camps. If you must talk to your family members or employees about controversial issues, ask them to help bridge the gap, not to take sides.
9. Set down policies and define your values, and let these statements guide you in resolving conflicts. Craft your corporate as well as family vision and mission and make sure they complement each other. When you are in disagreement, be guided by your constitution and statements of your vision and mission.
10. Always remember that personal and familial relationships should ultimately be served before business. Try to preserve your marriage and family, even at the expense of your business. If running a business together is ruining your marriage and wreaking havoc on your family life, it might be better for one to quit the family business and work outside of the home. But, if with genuine effort, you can keep your business and home together, then congratulations – you have the best of both worlds.
I’m a newbie in photography. I actually got my first dslr last March. As I would like to do this as a profession someday, can you tell me the prerequisites before i dream of starting it?
I am happy to hear that you are dreaming of becoming a professional photographer. Before I answer your question, let me just say – your situation is different from ours, so choose what you would like to do and what you would prefer to ignore. In fact, you can skip huge chunks of my long answer (sorry, I got carried away writing about how we started), and just pick the ones you think you can use.
Let me share with you our story.
When John and I met in 1970, he was a hobbyist trying to break into editorial photography, and I was a writer for a small tourist magazine. We would be sent on assignments together – that’s how we got to know each other.
We wanted to work together as a travel writer-photographer tandem, but the Sunday magazine we approached offered a fee that would not even pay for our effort or expenses. So, we thought we’d try advertising.
Adphoto was born in 1973 with two full time employees – John and myself. We had nothing but P1000 that John had earned assisting a British documentary filmmaker, a second-hand Nikkormat with a 43-86mm lens and a 35mm/120mm black&white enlarger.
We were just learning photography – there were no schools of photography then, very few books on photography (nothing on advertising photography) and Internet was still just a glint in the eyes of geeks-to-be.
As a high school graduate, all that John could offer me (and the business) was his passion for photography. He worked 24/7– shooting during the day, processing films and black&white prints at night, and spending maybe two minutes for lunch or dinner. He was always happy working. There must have been something in Dektol developers, the neutralizer and the fixer that gave him a high.
Neither John nor I had a network of contacts. Neither his parents nor mine could offer us capital or introduce us to people who could hire us for photography jobs. So I did what I learned from my previous job of selling encyclopedias door-to-door – I went “cold knocking.” (That means, I picked up the yellow pages book, called prospective clients -among them JWT- and made appointments to present our portfolio).
We had no background in business, so we did not know that we needed a certain amount of capital to get started, to write a business plan, or do a feasibility study to ensure the success of our business. John was sure only about his passion for photography, and since I graduated from the University of the Philippines, I was sure then that I could learn anything (or so I thought then).
We were young – John was 25 and I was 27 – and we had no fear of failure. So, we plunged in. We’re probably blessed because 36 years later, we’re still here in this business, and it still is work that we continue to love.
What can I say – now that you ask about prerequisites before pursuing the dream of becoming a professional photographer? I don’t know if it’s better for you to start as we did – knowing nothing, just doing it and learning as we went along.
But we have reaped some lessons along the way, and maybe you can make fewer mistakes if I shared them with you.
So here goes.
1. First of all, enroll in photography courses. There are many who offer them now. Alternatively, you can try to learn photography on your own.
2. Shoot, shoot, shoot. I was once inspired by a quotation “A big shot is just a small shot who keeps shooting.”
3. Sort out your photos, and define what kind of photography you like. Sometimes, even just the numbers will tell you. If, for example, you have a lot more portraits than say, landscapes, then maybe you might be happier as a portrait photographer than as a travel photographer.
4. Learn the business of photography. I wanted to be a professional manager, so in 1978, I went back to school and tried to study for an MBA. If you can’t find a course that is specifically on the business of photography, any business courses – especially those that deal with services – will do. Or, read books on the business of photography. (A list will follow another day on this site, so come back).
4. Sort out your thoughts and feelings. Do a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis, both as a photographer and as a person in the business of photography (don’t confuse these two roles – they represent different hats for you to wear).
5. Be proactive, and act fast. Things are changing so quickly that if you don’t speak up, or act fast enough, you’d get left behind. The camera that you haven’t learn to use, or you don’t use often, will get obsolete even before you get any benefit, pleasure or profit from it.
6. Join photographers’ groups, especially trade associations. Work together to protect common interests and defend photographers’ rights. Know that there are things that you can’t do alone, and that there is strength in numbers – especially when you have something in common.
7. Never stop learning. Work on improving yourself. More than investing endlessly in every new camera or gadget, you gain more when you invest in yourself. What good is a sophisticated, complicated camera if you don’t know how to use it?
8. Just do it. You will never know if you are or you aren’t meant to be a professional photographer, if you don’t start being one. If it’s meant for you, then, well and good, continue. If you’ve persevered enough (and only you know when enough is enough) and the business of photography still does not feel right for you, then quit and look for another day job or business. Photography is special in that you can quit being a pro without having to give up your love for photography.
9. Take risks. This is similar to no. 8. You’ve heard the saying, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” I personally believe that nothing is ever lost – there are lessons in rising or falling, success or failure, victory or defeat.
10. Surround yourself with people who can inspire you, or push you to your limits. Don’t limit yourself to people who compliment you – sometimes, those who criticize you can push you to greater heights as much as those who praise you.
There are more than 10 lessons and more stories to tell, I am sure, so maybe, I will continue to write on this topic, if not for you then at least for posterity. But for now, I think you have enough for starters? Let me know what you think.
Case Study: Abby’s
Note: Everything here is fictitious, even when real names of establishments or people are used.
The client, which for this case study we will name Abby’s, is a fastfood chain. They have been operating for 5 years. They started their first restaurant in Central Luzon, and now have 15 branches all over Metro Manila. They hope to open new franchises in the major cities of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. They have been very profitable the last couple of years, since they started franchising Abby’s.
Abby’s has a new marketing manager, Becky. She is 25 years old. She was an Account Executive with a multinational ad agency, but lost her job when the agency downsized. Becky is advising the owners of Abby’s to produce posters for all the stores, and to have print ads in magazines and newspapers. She has also advised them to launch TV and radio commercials – the first time that Abby’s will consider doing so. They also hope to use the materials for non-traditional media like Internet. Presently, they have no presence on the Web.
In order for them to grow, they believe that they need a celebrity endorser. They have just signed up a young and popular movie star with the same popularity ranking as Judy Ann Santos.
Becky is eager to please and impress her new employer. She told the owners of Abby’s that she knows photographers, and can get them to do a lot of work that they need – including menu displays – without much extra cost, because “anyway, it’s digital.” She also claims that to save money, they will have to schedule the photo shoot with the TV shoot. She has also promised the owners that she can get the photographer to give them copyrights so they can use the pictures over and over again.
She has advised her employer that a photographer would be willing to charge a low day rate considering that he would have “bragging rights” in photographing their celebrity endorser. She estimates it would take two days to do the following:
a. 20 different food set ups, to be photographed individually on plain background, for drop out
b. “unlimited” shots of celebrity endorser in various situations, including one with the store staff
c. not yet sure – but the client wants a photo of the endorser with her family (parents and siblings) eating at the store.
Becky thinks she should ask for two sets of DVDs – one for her file (so she can build up a photo library) and one to give to the freelance artist who designs for Abby’s.
Again, in order to save, they are not hiring a professional food stylist but will ask Abby’s cook to prepare the dishes.
At the celebrity endorser’s insistence, they are hiring her favorite make up artist – a well-experienced make up artist for advertising requirements. They also said yes to hiring her fashion stylist – who styles for Penshoppe ads.
The celebrity endorser’s contract is for one year, renewable for another year, with payment for the first year paid upfront – 50% upon signing of the contract, and the balance after the shoot. She stipulated that she would have to be paid 100% more, if Abby’s would open stores abroad and use the materials with her in them.
Sam is 30 years old, married with a 5-year old daughter. She will start school in June. His wife works as a salesgirl at SM Valenzuela, but would have to stop working at the end of May as she is due to give birth in June.
He has been doing photography since he was in college. He went to PUP and finished Political Science. He owns a brand new 35mm dslr, a 5D Mark 2, which was a gift from his parents, who live in the U.S. He has a 28mm to 135mm zoom lens. He does not own any lights, but he is thinking of buying a set if he would get this job. He would “borrow” the money that they saved up to pay his daughter’s tuition to invest in lights. He does not have a studio, but he knows he can rent one in Makati, near the client’s office.
He does not have a permanent assistant, and would either hire one for the shoot days, or maybe get volunteers. Since he does not have a car, he would have to take a taxi to and from the studio.
His computer has been acting up lately, and he might have to buy a new battery for it. He would also need to buy additional memory cards and batteries for his camera.
He has done a couple of food photography assignments before, and has taken photos of people at events. He has assisted at a wedding, and has done executive portraits for an annual report so he thinks he can manage talent shots.
Becky and Sam met two months ago when Sam presented his portfolio to the owners of Abby’s, who was introduced to him by his brother who supplies them with buns for their burgers.
Sam is a member of the DPP. He took up basic and advanced photography at Fort Santiago under the Federation of Pilipino Photographers Foundation and short courses on food photography and portrait photography at the Philippine Center for Creative Imaging (all paid for by his parents).
Today, a young aspiring photographer PM’d me. He said he is at the crossroads, torn between continuing his college education as an incoming senior in medical technology or to drop out of college to take a one-year practical course in photography.
He was quite emphatic that he loved photography and could not imagine himself working in a lab all day. (I wonder whose decision it was for him to take up medical technology) To make matters worse, he failed three subjects last semester (probably because he was spending more time doing photography than working at the school medical lab).
I told him, of course, that only he could decide what he should do, but nevertheless narrated to him a story about another student with a similar problem years ago. This involved a law student who had seriously gotten into photography and was getting disenchanted with the idea of becoming a lawyer. My husband, who is more ready to dispense advice than I am, told him, “Roy, finish law school then be a photographer if you still want to. You can be a lawyer and your hobby is photography, but you can’t be a photographer and your hobby is law.” To make the long story short, Roy followed my husband’s advice and he is now a successful lawyer, and an equally successful photographer. ?
That’s just one example, and what is true for one is not necessarily true for others. To everyone finding themselves at crossroads, go ahead and can ask around for advice, but in the end, you alone must make the decision. It’s still your choice that will define your future.