Photographer and teacher Dieter Appelt began his career as an opera singer before taking up painting and, later, performance art.

Professionals of Photography

Interviews with photographers and professionals in the photography industry:

Ellen Boughn, Commercial Stock Photo Licensing Expert and Photographic Licensing & Copyright Appraiser

Mike Davis, Picture Editor

Jeff Gatesman, Cinematographer & Photographer

Karijn Kakebeeke, Photojournalist

Robbie McClaran, Editorial Photographer


A New Direction

My father always told me, ‘Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.  

—Jim Fox


Many of us daydreamed of what we wanted to be when we grew up.  For some, the plan was fairly simple—to be an artist, a racecar driver or a basketball star.  For others, the goal was a bit more sophisticated—a scuba diving archeologist or a Hummel collector.  A few people stayed on that childhood path but many of us gravitated to more practical disciplines, whether by nature, interest or parental influence.

That said, there are many who begin one career and end up in another.  It is actually very common to make a mid-career switch, with the skills of one’s last career proving to provide interesting tools and perspective with regard to their current calling.

On The Most Talented People in the World website there are interviews with several extraordinary professionals who started out in one occupation and ended up in another.  In some cases, the impetus for change came from an unexpected opportunity, a challenge, or a newly discovered passion.   With us, our interviewees share their career story, from education and work experience to the changes they are seeing in their industry as well as the advice they have to offer to those who are interested in working in their field.


Ellen Boughn—Zoologist who started a photo stock agency

Eric Darton—Graphic designer who became a writer and educator

Thomas Champman—Fisherman and Marine Scientist to Electrical Engineer

Helen Pilgrim—Computer programmer turned accountant

Joseph Deiss—Photographer and teacher who became a mechanical engineer

Sallie Tisdale—Nurse and writer


Professional Women

Extraordinary Women

My one writing teacher (who remains a friend today) simply told me to get out of Dodge. “You’re a writer, what are you waiting for?” But it took several more years before I was willing to start failing.  —Sallie Tisdale

More women than men were awarded PhDs in 2009.  Women’s entrepreneurship is credited for helping dramatically reduce poverty, promote gender equality and give them the means to improve the health of their families and finance the education of their children.

On this website we have interviews with several extraordinary women—with more to come!—who have taken a variety of paths to build impressive careers.   Each of these professionals has opened up about their education, work experience and the changes they are seeing in their industry.  In addition, these women share with us the advice they have to offer to those who want to work in their field.

Writer Sallie Tisdale

Fit Engineer Cindy F.

Accountant Helen Pilgrim, EA, LTC

Accounting Executive Joanne M. Riddle


The Washington Post piece Women Outpace Men in Earning PhDs.

Several studies are available about the benefits of entrepreneurial women & educating girls:
From Entrepreneurship to Education: How Empowering Women Can Help Their Children Learn (International Labor Organization)

The Power of Educating Girls (Huffington Post piece, posted on the McArthur Foundation website)


An Array of Engineers

Engineering pervades everything… It’s how to take very complex systems and break them down into nice, tight, abstract parts. —Eric Grimson, Bernard Gordon Professor of Medical Engineering, Chancellor, M.I.T.

Whether applied to aeronautics, electricity or urban planning, “engineering” is simply defined as a branch of science and technology that is applied to design and building through the use engines, machines &/or structures.

On this website we have interviews with 3 engineers: A Project Manager & Business Developer of Electrical Power Plants, a Designer & Developer of Electrical & Petroleum Control Systems and a Senior Mechanical Designer who worked for a company that designs & builds highly specialized buildings for medical research and technology development.  Each of these professionals has opened up about their education, work experience and the changes they are seeing in their industry.  In addition, they share with us the advice they would give to young people who want to become an engineer or work in the power industry.


Filmmaking & Photography

“Haskel Wexler taught me the dichotomy of working as a cinematographer when he said, “Some days you make art, and some days you make a paycheck.” —Jeff Gatesman

Filmmaking and photography are both relatively young art forms and both industries have changed significantly over the last century.  The “Digital Revolution” is probably the most dramatic evolutionary step and one that has not only affected the technology used but also the varying degrees that artists can make a living from their work.  In short, as the high quality equipment becomes more accessible to more people, the greater the competition.

In our archive we have interviews with a film director & screenwriter, a cinematographer and a photographer.  Each of these professionals has opened up about their education, work experience and the changes they are seeing in their industry.  In addition, they share with us the advice they would give to young people who ultimately want to work in the film industry or become a photographer.


From Volunteer to Employee

I have acquired several jobs as a direct result of volunteering for various organizations. My current position is no different. I started at Tacoma Art Museum as a docent in 2003 and was able to attain a position in the Museum Store thanks to an excellent recommendation from my Volunteer Supervisor. From there I have moved up in positions to my current job as Manager of Public and Volunteer Programs.

I have had the pleasure of overseeing Tacoma Art Museum’s volunteers since 2005, a responsibility I hold dear. It has been invaluable to get to see both sides of volunteerism and it has become even more clear to me how important volunteers are to nonprofit organizations. There are over 130 volunteers at Tacoma Art Museum that offer up well over 10,000 hours of their time per year collectively. According to Independent Sector’s Value of Volunteer Time as of 2011, that time would be worth over $217,000! Of course I know that, monetary value aside, volunteers give so much more than their time. They bring fresh eyes to an organization, contagious enthusiasm, and a desire to give back to the community—none of which can really be assigned a dollar amount.

From the volunteer perspective, volunteering offers a chance to get behind the scenes of an organization to see how it really works, and there is the added bonus of meeting and interacting with people, fellow volunteers and staff alike, who share similar interests. As a volunteer, one can “try out” an organization to determine the fit before jumping directly into a position that may be unsuitable. One can gain experience that leads to a paid position. In addition, The Corporation for National and Community Service conducted research on the health benefits of volunteering, establishing a strong relationship between volunteering and lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer. Basically, volunteering is beneficial all-around, and is a gift you give yourself as much as your chosen organization!


Jana Wennstrom is the Manager of Public and Volunteer Programs at TACOMA ART MUSEUM


The Value of Hands-on Experience

I have to confess that I have been wondering if knowledge is becoming conceptual for a lot of students.  Adam Savage, co-host of MythBusters, speaks to this in his Problem Solving talk at the Maker Faire (2010).  Savage candidly states that, every time he goes into a project thinking he understands absolutely everything involved in order to work through it and get it done, he finds that he screws it up.  In short, he doesn’t understand what’s going on until he gets his hands involved and starts to build it.  This, I believe is the weak link for a lot of young people—they work on their computers almost exclusively, which is only one venue of receiving information and one tool (though a variety of programs) by which to create something.  Are students getting hands-on experience?  Are they building or making what they design?  Do they get the opportunity to handle the materials to see how they work when manipulated or fit with other materials (or mechanisms)?


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