Monthly Archives: March 2012
“You never know who you’re going to meet.”
When somebody starts a story with that line, people tend to inch up on the seats, lean forward, and focus. What follows is usually fine storytelling.
In the creative and micro-business world, it’s important to never forget that you never know who you are meeting and what worlds they may open up for you.
Here is my story: You never know who you’re going to meet. I was 25 years old and completely confused about what to do with my life. I was waiting tables full time, delivering pizzas part time, and my wife just told me we’re going to have a baby. I had cameras, and I knew I could take good photos. I was particularly intrigued by the wedding photography business, even though I knew it wasn’t the easiest business to get into.
I prepped some photos, made some brochures, and spent my last $30 on a large frame in which I put the best photo I had: a photo of my nephew as a baby. (Who doesn’t love babies?) At this point, there was not a single soul in the world, beyond me, that knew I would photograph anything to make a buck. I was desperate.
I went to a local coffeehouse and approached the nice young woman at the counter. (Always shy, it took me a few tries before summoning up the courage to talk to her.) I explained who I was, what I was doing, and asked if I could hang the photo up and leave some (homemade) business cards behind. “I don’t see a problem with that, but you have to talk to the manager and owner first.” My heart sank … she was an hourly barista and had no authority to make decisions.
I sat back down in front of my coffee and started to wonder if the wedding photography business was the right thing. I looked up and now the brista was standing next to my table.
“I’m getting married this summer and I have no money. Want to talk?”
Fast forward six months and I shot my first wedding, the results of which were fantastic. That one wedding led to material to build up a website and promotion books. Referrals from that first wedding led to three more the following year, six more after that, and eventually a total of 16 bookings stretching out over six years. By the time I shot the last wedding in 2002, I was charging almost $3000 for my work.
When people experience success, it’s a cliche for them to say “Hard work and a little luck.” The little luck part of the equation is often finding that person who is the first domino in a series.
You never know who you’re going to meet. Never forget that.