Dream To Do: HB Mertz

Do you ever have a feeling after you read a blog or an article online? I am talking about a kind of resonation with the writer that makes you say "YES!" outloud. You are nodding in agreement with each word they've written. It feels like the writer knows your story or has had a glimpse into your situation. That they could've been a long time friend. The last blog to do that for me was written by HB Mertz. (you can read the blog here).

It seems like everyone right now is either jumping into an entrepreneurial venture or aspires to. The common phrase is "taking the leap". We love the grounded approach HB took towards his "leap" and we were curious to hear more.  If you're in a place where you're working towards taking a "leap" or maybe you already have, I would suggest reading his blog linked above. Then circle back around and read HB's responses at how he's been working towards his dream.

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PARATIVE: Hey HB! Can you tell us about your dream?

HB: You know those people who go through extremely different stages of life? That’s been my story, so my dream has changed a lot over the years. When I was younger, it was all about baseball and I wanted to play in the MLB someday. Then in college, I went through a major streetwear phase and thought I wanted to someday have my own store or clothing line. Now, it’s been about travel photography and using that to make an impact for the Kingdom of God. I don’t know how it’s all going to play out, but I love creating. At it’s core, that’s my dream. To use my talents to make an impact and show the love of Christ to those around me.

PARATIVE: People talk about how they connect with God through nature. Is this true for you? What does that look like in everyday life?

HB: Oh it’s absolutely true. You read so much in the Psalms using the metaphors of mountains or stars to convey who God is. Just seeing the different parts of the Earth brings His presence to life for me, and it’s one of those things you just don’t get until you’re in the midst of it. I mean, take last winter for example. I finally got to see the Northern Lights in Alaska, and I just remember standing there with goosebumps, not really being able to comprehend what was going on. There’s this nudging in your heart and mind that goes, “See? This is who I am. All those promises I’ve ever made to you through scripture? They’re real, and I’m a living, breathing God.” It’s so crazy man, it honestly is one of the things that keeps me going the most. Just chasing that feeling of being truly alive. 

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PARATIVE: So cool! The northern lights has always been on our bucket list of places to see. What action steps have you taken towards your dream?

HB: Right now, I’m doing the full-time freelance thing. I made the decision to quit my agency job here in Pittsburgh about two months ago and haven’t looked back since. I know to do the work I want, whether that’s on my own or with a team of people, I’ll need to move somewhere out West. So a move is on the horizon for this fall or winter.

PARATIVE: After reading the blog on your website, you have a strategic approach to leaping into full time freelance work. With two months under your belt, what's your biggest piece of advice for someone that is looking to follow suit? Have you had any new thoughts since writing the blog?

HB: Yeah, I really had thought out my steps before jumping into freelance work. It was a combination of knowing that I was ready for it with my professional experience and mentoring from my bosses, but also that the work had just gotten to a point where I was turning down opportunities to pursue what I loved so that I could do the 9-5. I knew it was time, but I also wouldn’t have done it without having work lined up a few months before doing so. I think right now, so many kids are deciding to chase that life because their Instagram is doing well, when in the long run that’s going to have some really negative consequences when they have to find full-time work to support a wife and kids. I highly advise two things: First, a degree to fall back on, and second, to consider going part-time freelance while doing a job that will give you relevant experience. There’s so many opportunities right now for you to get plugged in with brands and companies hiring in creative fields - even if it’s something unpaid for the time being. You never know, you may find out that you love that stability and that you also live in a location that allows you to get out and shoot on weekends and evenings to keep those passions going.

PARATIVE: That's awesome advice. What does your dream look like in 5/10 years?

HB: Honesty, your guess is as good as mine. I’m one of those people that really lets things develop in front of me without trying too much to guide the future. Two years ago, I hadn’t even picked up a camera and I would have laughed if you told me this was what I’d be doing with my life. I’m big on letting God open up doors when it’s time, and following accordingly - putting my whole heart and self into the work placed before me. I hope I’m still able to be doing travel photography, but ultimately, I hope to be creating and making an impact on the world and the people around me, whatever that looks like. Let’s catch up in a few years and see what’s happening!

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Drew Oxley