From Firefighter to Artist: Embracing Passion Over Profits

by | Oct 6, 2023 | Articles

I’ve been studying photography for more than half my life now, and I’ve always considered it as art. That’s why I’ve never been interested in taking on events, or weddings or other gigs with my photography. I fell in love with the creating, the vision and always wanted to do it my way.

What I am not, it turns out, is a marketing genius. I don’t know how to sell art, and frankly I never spent much time trying to learn. I’m in love with the process of creating, not the business of selling. For those reasons, I turned to taking a job as a firefighter here on Maui where I could work 10 days a month and hone my craft the other 20.

This worked for a time, but I soon began to look for ways to spend even more time with my art. Enter real estate investing. Caroline and I began investing in real estate and rentals in 2016. By 2021 we had earned enough passively with our rentals to leave the Maui fire department. So I did. Investing in real estate has taught me a lot, and I’ve been consumed by it for the last 5 years. It’s taken me to areas I never knew were possible and elevated my thinking and my circle of friends dramatically.  We now have rental properties here on Maui, in Arizona and are partners in syndications of mobile home parks, apartment buildings and self storage facilities all over the country. We’ve seen tremendous growth in our net worth that we never thought was possible.

Then this happened:

A few months ago I started thinking about why I got into real estate investing in the first place. My “why” had been to leave my W2 job. But the “why” to my “why” was so that I could pursue my passion on my terms. Not having to worry about making money from it. Instead creating for the pure love of creating.

I had gotten to financial freedom through real estate and I’m proud of that. I love that. I love investing, it’s exciting and empowering and leads to amazing opportunities. I’m not going to stop investing. However, I realized I was sacrificing my passion for it and spending too much time identifying as an investor and failing to do the one thing that made me most happy; identify as an artist.

So here’s what’s happening now:

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook or YouTube or any other social media account (@EarthTrot), I’ll be focused on providing more photography related content. If, by chance you enjoyed learning about real estate related strategies, what I’m doing there, meetups, etc. I’ve created another account called @MauiInvestor (Facebook, Instagram, etc – I only check Instagram though), go follow me there. Oh, and if you’re interested in staying at any of our Maui rentals you can check out

I’m also planning on creating a lot more content, more art, more behind the scenes videos and more. Again, all that will be posted to social media accounts, and linked to from my revamped website  I’m not completely done with that yet, but I’d love to get your feedback if you have a minute!

And finally, here’s what’s next:

As I mentioned, I’m working on re-working that website. I’ve also got a ton of photography that I’m working on editing. Some from here on Maui, some from a recent trip up to Alaska. I even have some from last year that hasn’t been edited yet from a trip to Utah. I’m going to be working on going through all those and having new work from all those areas out within the next month or so.

I’ll be in Las Vegas with Caroline and Nico in December and then we’re thinking about doing a road trip from Vegas up through St. George Utah (maybe look at some properties there), into Park City, Eden and all those beautiful spots in Northern Utah, making our way up to Bozeman and Missoula, MT and over to Coeur d’Alene Idaho for Christmas. We recently bought a piece of land there and are working on building a house in that area.  Finally we’ll fly out of Seattle back home to Maui by New Years.

So, with so many cool places on the list, I should have a large batch of new images to share with you after those trips and tons of good content to share along the way. Pray for snow, we’re going to the mountains!  Woohoo!

Here are the new images:

This is a super famous tree in New Zealand.  I almost called it “Three Birds” because every time I see this piece I only could focus on the birds in the tree, but the Bob Marley song “Three Little Birds” kept playing through my head and I don’t think the image has a Bob Marley feel to it, does it?

There’s an eerie color in the sky way up in Alaska on clear mornings in the winter. They call it alpenglow and it is both eerie and beautiful at the same time.  I love the way there’s a juxtaposition between the sky and the subject, almost like the mountains were just cut out and placed there. Alaska is incredible.

This is actually an old image that was sitting in my archives for a long time. It’s of an amazing Japanese Maple tree with extraordinary colors. Truth is these colors only happen for a short time each year, but I was lucky enough to catch them in late September.


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