If you’re a creative. If you’re passionate about life. If you’re open to inspiration. E.E. Berger’s creative career leap is a story for you. Forging your own path requires making moves. Breaking down boundaries requires pushing your limits. This all typically doesn’t really feel all that fun when you’re doing it. Taking risks and knowing when to trust your instincts can be stressful, that’s why stories like E.E. Berger’s are here and designed to be shared.

If you’re thinking about making a change, be it a new career or a new city, and you’re looking for reassurance,  you need to read this and hear it from someone who has done said change well. E.E. Berger is exactly this. A great example of how to take a chance for the better. From New York City to Detroit, E.E. shares the steps she’s taken and the leaps she’s made…

So you were living in New York working in Fashion. Let’s hear the first hand experience…
Well I was an agent at boutique model agency (Muse) for four years. At any given time I would be the booker for around 25-40 models and working with potentially the same amount of clients. It was one of the greatest experiences I’ve had professionally- I learned a TON. Not only in terms of what I learned of the industry but dealing with different (sometimes extreme) personalities and hard work. It was a lot of stress at times and it required an incredible amount of organization and professionalism. Having that many things going at once is not easy but it’s taught me how to stay organized and on top of things. Now that I work for myself that skill set is invaluable.

E.E. Berger

E.E. Berger

What was New York to you?
I will always love NY and a large bulk of my greatest memories will be during my time spent living there. Looking back on the five years I was there feels pretty damn awesome. At the time it didn’t always feel like I was living the dream but in hindsight I definitely realize I was. I had super close friends, a great job, good apartments, I met my now fiancee there. It brought so many amazing things into my life and I loved living there for 4 out of those 5 years I was there. But that 4th year it was becoming pretty clear that I wasn’t happy living in that environment anymore- professionally or just the reality of NY living. The cost, the energy, the constant cement. My boyfriend and I had to question whether or not the cost (mentally and monetarily) of living in Brooklyn was worth what we were getting out of it and we ultimately decided it wasn’t. It was a great experience and I’m so glad I did it- it’s an experience that can’t be matched.

 

Photo Courtesy: E.E. Berger

Photo Courtesy: E.E. Berger

Did you have an “Aha moment” to leave NY? Why did you leave? What did you want find, to have, to be surrounded by?
It was more of an “aha” build-up. Haha! The feeling crept up on me and I think I was afraid to leave NY for a while, too. It had become familiar, I knew who I was living in NY and I knew what life was like. The unknown of leaving was pretty scary. What would it be like to not be able to hop on the A train to go home or go to work? That kind of stuff. But I was even more terrified to move to NY in the first place and that worked out better than I ever expected so what was the worst thing that could happen if I moved back home to Detroit? Detroit was ultimately much more of an opportunity for us to be happy.

People often compare leaving NYC to breaking off a personal relationship, did it feel that way for you?
Oh yeah- for sure! It was pretty heartbreaking but I knew it was the right decision. I cried for weeks leading up to it. And now I miss it and think about old times. But I definitely, no doubt, know it was not the city for me forever 🙂

What about the Fashion industry?
Very similar to the city life actually! Great experience, ultimately not for me. It’s cutthroat and there’s not a whole lot of loyalty that I found. That wears on you heavily. I loved the people at the agency I was working at- Muse is made of an incredible team of people that I miss dearly. But in terms of what I was doing in the industry it was all about my models career’s and that just wasn’t what I wanted to be putting energy into. I wanted to invest that time into my own career.

Photo Courtesy: E.E. Berger

Photo Courtesy: E.E. Berger

Did you even have time to do more than just work?
I made it a priority to make sure I was doing things outside of work- even if that was camping or mini-photo adventures with friends. By the end of my time in NY it was clear that I was going to take the plunge and freelance on my own so I spent a lot of time focusing on preparing for that transition. I’ve always felt that a work / life balance is incredibly important so that was something I tried to never let suffer.

Photo Courtesy: E.E. Berger

Photo Courtesy: E.E. Berger

So you moved to Detroit? What’s the creative class & community like there?
Exciting! I grew up north of Detroit, went to an art school right downtown and lived there for a couple of years before moving to Brooklyn. It was amazing to come back, to see the changes and witness the growth. Detroit is complicated as hell though- its not as simple as the “move-to-Detroit” articles and stories. It’s a very, very complex place. But there are a lot of people trying to do a lot of good- both socially and artistically. That is so exciting to be around and it’s approachable and easy to access unlike in NY where the web is so tangled and huge it’s hard to see where to start. Detroit’s a small town at heart so the word community is definitely present.


Your working as a photographer now? What type of content / projects?

Right! I shoot a lot of food, lifestyle, interiors, restaurants, farm-life. That type of stuff. A little bit of everything- I like to keep in interesting and luckily in a smaller market in Detroit you can’t afford to only shoot food or only shoot portraits. It makes you stay flexible.

Photo Courtesy: E.E. Berger

Photo Courtesy: E.E. Berger

What inspires you the most when shooting?
Natural light and flawless composition. Also moodiness and rich textures / colors. Lastly plants and flowers, always.

Some projects you’ve enjoyed recently?
American Spoon is a Michigan based artisanal food company and the shoots for them are consistently some of my favorite work. It’s everything I love shooting- naturally styled food, Michigan based lifestyle images, farm and agro life. They just have a beautiful aesthetic and I’m very honored to be one of their photographers. Also last September I shot a big editorial for Hour Detroit magazine- it was a “Friendsgiving” shoot for November’s issue. We brought in a lot of the super talented people we have living in the city, had them make food and treats, come up with playlists, mix cocktails, and I photographed it all. It came out so nicely and I’m very proud of that story.

E.E. Berger

Photo Courtesy: E.E. Berger

How different is your day to day now in Detroit vs NY?
I don’t know if it could be anymore different. My day-to-day schedule varies so much now depending on what shoots I have or what edits need to be completed. It’s all on my own terms and schedule and I have so much freedom. It takes some getting used to after having such a regular schedule working full time in NY. Somedays if I have nothing to do for work I feel guilty not-working. But I try to keep in mind that being a freelancer and working for yourself means you’re available and present in your work 24 hours a day. It’s way harder in so many ways. Also I drive to most of my work, that’s a big change 🙂

Photo Courtesy: E.E. Berger

Photo Courtesy: E.E. Berger

What does an ideal weekend in Detroit look like? Favorite spots to coffee, eat, play, etc!?!
I think list form will make this easiest- but its so hard to keep this short!
CoffeeRed Hook in the West Village or Astro in Corktown.

Breakfast– My favorites are either Brooklyn St Local, Detroit Institute of Bagels, Sister Pie or Gold Cash Gold. But again it’s super hard to keep that list short.

PlayBelle Isle is a must. Detroit Institute of Arts and Motown Museum are good standby’s. A bike ride in the summer is one of the best things you can do around the city. You see so much, it’s easy riding. It’s perfect.

ShoppingEldorado General Store in Corktown, Nora in Midtown and Will Leather Goods also in Midtown. Also even though I’m not a beer-drinker I like going into 8 Degrees Plato on Cass. It’s just the coolest spot.

DinnerSelden Standard (if you can get in), La Feria (Tapas), Lupitas for Tacos in Southwest Detroit, and Bucharest Grill for their hummus or Bucharest Shawarma. It’s evil.

Yes! This is SO GREAT! Now I have my perfect weekend trip itinerary, ha!

Photo Courtesy: E.E. Berger

Photo Courtesy: E.E. Berger

What’s been the most valuable lesson from your professional leap of faith?
Trust your instincts and take big risks. Quitting your full time job in NY to move to Detroit and freelance as a photographer is a risky decision. But I knew I had to try it and the timing was right. I was prepared to work my ass off and I feel like that’s what I did to make sure that it would work out. If you trust yourself to get through and work hard, then maybe it’s not such a big risk at all. It’s all bound to work out.

Any advice for someone looking to make moves? Geographical and or professional?
Nothing ventured, nothing gained. You’ll never know how things will play out and life is just so short to not take those risks. Regret is an awful thing to live with. Also be prepared to work harder than you ever have and be stressed out and worried and mentally worn out when you work for yourself, but also know it’s going to result in the biggest reward- YOU WORK FOR YOURSELF! Also I think it’s so important to move outside of your comfort zone for a while- even if it’s for a few months. Experience life elsewhere. You’ll know if home is actually home for you forever or just for now. It all becomes really clear when you travel or move or go somewhere else.
The perfect note to close, “nothing ventured, nothing gained.” Experience life and find out what you’re capable of. It was wonderful and inspirational to chat with E.E. Berger. We’re excited to keep in touch and see what great things she does next.

Check out E.E.’s Instagram & Website. They’re incredible!

E.E. Berger Instagram

E.E. Berger Instagram

2 Responses

  1. Carole

    Great article. I am a native NYer and when we moved to Nj ,,I cried too! I still miss NY but it is close enough that i can just visit. I know NJ isn’t all that far but it was still a different way of living. We live at the shore so it is much more relaxed. However, I don’t know if I’ll ever get NY out of my heart.

    Reply
    • Jordan Rosenacker
      Jordan Rosenacker

      It’s a truly special place! I think for anyone that’s lived there it will and always be at the very least a state of mind. That Billy Joel was right about something, ha!

      Reply

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