Jake Stangel is one of my favorite photographers. I love the fresh way he shoots, and his no-nonsense approach to making images that reveal more than what may meet the eye in the real world.
First: here is an hour talk he gave at CCA, and it is really good.
(Below is embedded talk from above link.
He had no gear starting out.
He lived in a small town in Oregon after college.
He had nearly no knowledge on lighting, commercial photography, shooting to layout, working with clients, bidding, billing, and finding work than you do. He realized it, and began to learn. From the photographers he assisted, to the photographers he hung with.
So don’t think it can’t be done.
It is not easy, but if you have a fresh eye, a thirst for knowledge, and some guts. It can most certainly be done.
Enjoy his many portfolios here.