My, my how the tables have turned! Today I am saying goodbye to an old friend and hello to the future.

I became a professional photographer in January 2017, taking the leap of faith and dropping out of school to pursue my passion and calling for photography.

I jumped ship because it is what I am meant to do with my life and it’s been the best decision I  have ever made. Not long after I made that decision, I realized: there are so many places I want to go. I also realized that, it was going to be quite difficult to accomplish my creative goals without a car. 😂

In March of 2017, I bought my first car: a red 2012 Ford Fusion. 

For the past two years, this thing has taken me everywhere.
 Legitimately, everywhere.

It has taken me to:

The eastern coast of the US for rocket launches:

Florida (more launches)

Around the entirety of Lake Michigan several times over in 2017 for my Lake Michigan Lighthosues project:

Over the Mackinac Bridge and across Upper Peninsula:

Out to Wyoming for the Great American Eclipse:

To Purdue and back, where I first picked up a camera, countless times:

To Boston for a summer:

Up and down the coast of Maine:

To Huntsville/Tennessee for some really cool projects I had the privilege to be a part of:

and so. many. more.

I originally had a 3 year loan term for my Fusion, but things have been going splendidly, and I was able to pay it off just over 2 years early allowing me to put more towards saving for my dream car.

If you’ve been following me since before I became a professional, you’ll remember in 2016 fellow rocket photographer Craig Vander Galien and I supercharged to the SpaceX CRS-9 launch in his family’s Model S 85D.

Here’s a long-form blog post I wrote after we got home about that experience, in case you missed it!

My Fusion, in taking me to all of those beautiful places, has quite a few miles on it. Along with miles, and as much as I love the car, a multitude of things have come together in the past month or two that have allowed me a chance to replace it with something really special.

What’s next?

3 years later: It’s time that Craig and I supercharge to another SpaceX launch, SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy STP-2 (Space Test Program-2) mission for the US Air Force.

This time, we’re going in my car. A week ago today in Chicago, IL I took delivery of my dream car — a 2019, Deep Blue Metallic, Long Range All-Wheel Drive Tesla Model 3.

It’s still hard to believe this is my car. I am in love with the blue (my favorite color) and the pairing with the white interior really is the best color combo available on the TM3.

I must admit: I’ve been quite wary of talking about the fact that I decided to make this purchase. Partly because it is quite a lot of money to spend, but mostly because it feels like there is such a negative stigma around being a creative person and being successful at what you do.

Screw it! I am so proud of myself for setting a goal, working towards it, saving my money, and being able to make a ~50% down payment on something that is going to take me so many places, both figuratively in life and physically in place.

Some of the things that factored into my decision:

  • I was nearing my savings goal and decided to put my Fusion up for sale a few weeks ago just to see how things go. By the end of the week had sold my car in exactly the price range I wanted. The icing on the cake for me is that my car has a really great new home with someone who really needs it. Knowing it is going on to help someone, like it helped me and sort of paying that forward means the world.
  • The federal tax credit of $3,750 is going to be halving to $1,875 on June 30, 2019 and to pay that much less in taxes come April 15, 2020 was another big factor for me. If I was going to wait until after June 30, I’d need to save up and pay an extra ~$1,875 for seemingly no reason.
  • My monthly car payment with the down payment I decided on is completely manageable, and not all that different than what I paid monthly for my Fusion. While it is of course for more money than my Fusion, I plan on doing the same thing I did with it, and pay it off quite a bit earlier than the 72 month schedule I am on now.
  • Being green. It’s another one of those cliche things with a certain stigma tied to it for certain people, but being an infinitesimally small part in the move to sustainable transport feels good!
  • Safety — Model 3 is the safest car ever tested by the NHTSA. The seats make you feel super secure and knowing it is such a safe car makes me that much more confident as a driver and want to take it that many more places knowing I am protected wherever I go.
  • Cost savings — this is by far the largest factor for me. I spend a lot on traveling to the launches. If I drive to just 1 out of every 3 launches I photograph, I save ~$300/mo in hotel (sleeping in the car with a custom fit mattress), gas, rental car, and flights. If I drive to more, I save more than I currently spend on air travel and everything associated with it by purchasing this car.
  • Finally, I have never been more excited to drive places. (or supervise it driving places on the highway, really — with Autopilot)

After considering all my options — it was a no brainer, for me.

I still cannot believe it is my car. It feels like the future. I already got a software update and approved it on my phone a few days ago.

I am so excited to commence ownership of this car with a road trip doing what I love — making photos (rocket photos, at that)

What are a few of the places I am going to go?

  • Just Lake Michigan wasn’t enough. I would like to make it a goal to see all of the lighthouses in the United States and maybe someday the world, but for now just the US. Having this car brings that goal that much closer to the goal. I think I’ll work at this goal a little bit on this trip between the ULA AEHF-5 and Orion Ascent Abort-2 launches, by visiting a few more of Florida’s lighthouses. (Ponce de Leon, Jupiter Inlet, etc)
  • I’ve got a National Park Annual Pass that gets me access to every NP in the US. I need to use it more. Zion and the Grand Canyon have been on my mind somewhat.

I hope you’ll follow along with me as I’ll share the experience, just like the original ‘Supercharging to a SpaceX launch’ experience! I am so proud to be part of the Tesla family!

Here’s to the all the places and photos that result🍻🥂