abi underwater

The idea that my career would have something to do with water and art was a no brainer from a very early age. I loved to swim, I was obsessed with learning about ocean inhabitants and my fisher price camera was a constant companion, this was all at the ripe old age of nine. When I made the connection that it was someone’s job to hold the camera for the underwater natural history shows, I had my job title and an answer to the obligatory question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I never looked back.

abi stingrays

I had the good fortune to attend a state liberal arts college that allowed its students to design their own majors, much to the chagrin of my parents. After some negotiating and soul searching we all agreed that I should dual major in Art and Biology rather than creating an underwater photography degree. Turns out they were right as there aren’t many underwater photography jobs hiring right out of college. I’d chosen a profession where I’d have to make my own path, and have a day job along the way.

It took a lot of hard work and persistence, but two years out of school I had my first feature article on diving the Marquesas Islands published in Scuba Diving magazine. This gave me the confidence to press on pursuing my dreams and following an unconventional path.

Now fifteen years since college I have gained a lot of experience adjusted my path and met a lot of wonderful mentors along the way. I’ve also added underwater portraits of children to my underwater repertoire and love it!

abi baby

For those pursuing a career along a road less traveled, LinkedIn is an invaluable tool. You never know when an opportunity will arise, or how a connection can manifest into a mutually beneficial career prospect. I have been fortunate to have direct opportunities arise through social media such as LinkedIn.

I had a mentor once tell me to never forget the 3 P’s; patience, perseverance and persistence. I can honestly say that this was one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever taken to heart. No matter what your passion is, find it and be great.

“You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.” Jim Carrey

I am living proof. If you can dream it, you can accomplish it.

-Abi

Abi Smigel Mullens Photography

Sea Star Underwater Portraits

Editor’s Note: This story was originally posted on Abi’s profile via LinkedIn’s publishing platform as part of our Picture Yourself campaign. If LinkedIn has helped you transform your career or business, please share your story with us.