It's not a secret that I don't rely on my photography to make a living. I've even talked about this subject in my books. My art is far too personal to me, and I’m not driven by money. That’s probably hard for some people to grasp, but I’m more concerned about my mental well-being than I am about my bank accounts. I'm not saying that I've never compromised my art for money; I just don’t want to do it on a daily basis and depend on it.
On occasion I do shoot for money but only under the right circumstances. A little extra income is always nice. Recently, I’ve started shooting for Taboo Magazine because I was invited to. I have full artistic control, it’s easy, and the pay is nice. I’ve also started doing work for Wired Magazine taking portraits and doing editorial work. There too, I have full artistic control and the money just happens to be good too.
But I can’t see myself doing that kind of work full-time, especially commercial photography. Technically, I hardly know anything about what it requires to do “pro” photography. I barely know how to use a flash. My method and style depend on my self-imposed limitations. That is what has given me my style throughout the years. I know how to take the kind of photos I take, and that’s all that’s important to me. If I had studied studio photography when I was younger, my style would probably have been too diluted to stand out stylistically.
I also couldn’t handle the stress involved in working that way. Even the photoshoots themselves would be far too stressful for me. I suffer from high blood pressure and hypertension and am always in danger of suffering a stroke even though I take medication for it. So it’s important for me to live a very calm lifestyle. I’ve always had day-jobs that provide me with calmness, steady income, and the freedom to take as much time off as I need for my artistic pursuits.
In Chicago, I worked at various record stores for 13 years. It was during this period that I shot my first book The Beauty of Fetish (Edition Stemmle). When I moved to LA in 1998, I got a job at the Stockroom because I had known the owner and his girlfriend since before I moved to LA. I shot The Beauty of Fetish: Volume II (Edition Stemmle) during the first two years here. It’s now the end of 2005, and I’m still working at the Stockroom doing graphic design. Why? Because I love it. It’s very low-key, they pay me well, I work with my friends, and I can take off as much time as I need to travel and create my art. The steady paycheck is very comforting too.
I’ve never been a competitive person. I just do what I do to make my friends and myself happy. I know too well that material and monetary gain does not bring happiness. Happiness is knowing who you are, loving yourself, and then spreading goodwill. Financially I may not be rich, but on the inside no one can ever rob me of the wealth I possess.
- Steve Diet Goedde, October 2005