Thursday, March 20, 2008

Going Pro - Keep Your Head In the Clouds

Paul Oakenfold DJ Monk DJ Craze RITM: Bunny in a Ball with Glowsticks Tommy Lee

My mother used to tell me to get my head out of the clouds all the time. I was always cooking up crazy business ideas, or working on music, or drawing, and I always had an unfaltering faith that no matter what I chose to do with my life, I could figure out what it takes and make it work. I still have the same faith. I'm not going to lie to you. It's hard work, often thankless work bootstrapping a new business. Budgets are so small as to be almost unmeasurable. Little things like how to replace the flash that got knocked over can seem like insurmountable obstacles if you let them.

Key words -- if you let them.

This is a mental challenge; a test of your will. If you have what it takes, you will come out the other side of this gauntlet with solid foundations on which to build something that resembles a life not just survived, but well lived. I like living life with my head in the clouds. The air up here is a bit cleaner, and looking down from way up high at the big picture, something like a broken flash doesn't seem like the end of the world. Just another milestone on a beautiful path, full of twists and turns. I live for the challenges. I welcome them. I thrive on coming up with creative solutions. Want to make a photo book? Try funding it with pre-sales. Want to break into sports shooting? Volunteer for the local little league to get your portfolio started. I currently have what might seem like an insurmountable problem. I have a lot more work on my plate than I can handle on my own, and this is the sort of work that really needs to get done. That's not the problem, though. The problem is that I'm still in bootstrap mode, and I simply don't have the budget to hire employees and pay benefits and an hourly wage.

I could stumble on this obstacle. I could give up and decide I just can't hack it as a photographer because "it takes money to make money". Or, I could look at what I do have -- a solid reputation, great connections, a strong network of friends, and a lot of knowledge to share. The solution to this problem was a college internship program. Offer school credit for hands on training in a real photography business. No, this business doesn't have the best cash flow, but I can get interns VIP access to big shows, give them a chance to meet people who genuinely are successful. Let them associate and do business with people who have been there, done that, and made a thriving career of it. That's how to pay them. Reward them with the faith that a kid from nowhere with a dream can look at the big bad world, take it on, and become a productive part of it. Maybe when they've talked to photo editors from influential mags, and met major celebrities and discovered that they're real people -- maybe after all that they'll catch the bug, boldly thrust their heads high into the clouds, and realize that there is always a solution. If you have a dream, and you relentlessly pursue it in spite of all the warnings from concerned friends and family, you can make it come true.

"What you're doing by being a successful creative is violating all the rules of business already, so forget about realism." - Leslie Burns-Dell’Acqua

Realism? Who needs it? All due respect to my mother, I think I'll keep my head in the clouds for just a little longer. Come and join me, if you're not afraid of falling.

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Blogger Jeremy said...

Great attitude and well written thoughts. I too have been an entrepreneur my entire life, which means I have ridden the continue roller coaster of finances along with the success and failures. You have to love what you are doing to keep your head high and look past the small obstacles that seemingly continually get in your way.

I love concert photography, which is part of what keeps me coming back to your photos. If you ever need some local help, I'd be happy and available just for the fun of it.

March 21, 2008 8:44 AM  
Blogger Eric said...

Hi Jeremy, I'm looking forward to reading your application for the intern position. =)

March 21, 2008 2:48 PM  
Blogger Jeremy said...

haha, I really don't have the time to be an intern perse, but often available for a one off if there is a need.

March 22, 2008 3:48 PM  

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