Reflections on Being Hired by Airbnb Plus / by Jean Bai

I’m about caught up on my blog posts this morning, finally! Now only a little bit jet-lagged from my 16 day vacation abroad with my new fiancee, I’m ready to work on the images from the trip, update my very neglected Instagram (which I hope you will follow!), work on some images from my third shoot for Aetypic Architects + Engineers, and of course…get my butt out there to shoot some more Airbnb Plus listings.

August flew by too quickly. Towards the end of July, I was hired by Airbnb and completed their photographer training. During August, I had 7 Airbnb Plus shoots and 4 other client shoots to wrap up prior to departing for my trip abroad at the end of the month.

Sometimes it’s hard for me to believe that I’ve slowly established myself as a photographer, as I’m usually caught up with how I could’ve perfected a shoot.

When I finally mustered the courage to get myself out there earlier this January, I had all the trepidation in the world. Friends, family and my loved one all expressed their concerns about launching into an industry so unfamiliar to my background (rightfully so, I suppose).

It hasn’t been easy navigating the business side of things, understanding the equipment essential to professional images, and learning to handle common concerns clients have hiring someone perhaps half their ages. If I were to build a project over two years, I am sure I’d have my own reservations about hiring a fresh face to document the project as well!

I still believe that one of the hardest part about starting out is looking past the external influences. Each time you feel someone may not believe in your ability, you need to try to prove to yourself that they’re wrong. After each shoot, be dedicated to seeking all the ways it could’ve been done better.

My fiancee has found it odd that after I landed a job with Airbnb Plus, I was only pleasantly surprised. Many of our mutual friends who had reservations before are now warmly congratulating me as if I made it. What’s funny is that my mother had never heard of Airbnb before! However, I believe that when you are truly dedicated to your craft rather than gaining approval, a title or award will not matter much to you outside of a marketing perspective. It’s the small tricks and skills you come up with working on a set or working in Photoshop that satisfy you. It’s the fact that you are collaborating with other dedicated creatives that drives you.

It has been a journey looking from the extrinsic to the intrinsic rewards, but now that I have, I don’t plan on having it any other way.