Njuki Moments

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Transform talent into business

Tim is a globetrotting celebrity photographer. He is good with the camera and he flaunts it. His equipment is his life and he lets everyone know on first meeting. He boasts about the fact that he can make his rent money over a week end and life can only get better.

The first time we met, we didn't have a lot in common, so conversation did not flow that well. It is on the second meeting that we got beyond the usual, hello, and nice to meet you. Since you already know that I do, I won’t dwell on that but rather share what Tim shared. Other than being a bit jealous of a young man who makes his rent money in a week end, I also got a lot to learn from my friend Tim.

"The journey here has not been easy. But I love photography and travel. I am blessed I am doing what I love. Since these two are my passions, photography makes the money and pays the bills while travel gives me the exposure and well, that is where the money is spent."
He didn't need to elaborate much. Both times we had met on trips.
“I decided I will be a photographer when I realized that is all I want to explore. It didn't pay the bills at first, but I lived on what I had to make it last. I am luckier these days. I am so on demand, sometimes I have to keep clients waiting. Full events get rescheduled because my calendar is full"; he continued.

I could only marvel.
"So what happens if you are unable to make it for a really important client? Do you pass on the chance? What happens when you fall sick?" I asked.

With this look that only very wise people can muster, he looked at me long and hard, as if wondering how I could ask a question like that. I waited.

“You see, I work like a musician. He only gets paid for days worked. If he was booked for a concert and had a bad throat, tough luck." he reasoned.

"But does it have to be that way? I mean you have been in the field that long, you must have spotted young talent that you can groom to fill in for you."

"You are not listening, my friend. By the time a client calls Tim, they know me. They can rely on my work. They will not allow anyone else to do that." The lesson continued. “And besides, by the time someone is good enough to do the work I do, then they are good enough to get their own work."

From my experience. That was not so. A lot of talented people prefer a steady pay check to the life of hustling on their own. They would rather work with an established artist than strike it out on their own. Not because they are not equally good or even better in some aspects, but because security of income is top of the list in most people's lives. I told Tim as much and told him that there may be some really talented people out there, and it doesn't hurt to get them and play mentor. Or even employ a few. Set up a business structure which will keep work going and money flowing even when you are unable to be there physically.

Several months later, and Tim had a shoot in our lovely town. He called me up.
"Man"; he started. “I cannot put a price to our chat the last time I was here. I am glad we talked.
I waited.

"Two months ago. I went to visit my sister, and her two year old son woke up when I entered the house. I went to get him. As I was bending to pick him from the mattress on the floor, my back snapped. Those were the most painful two weeks of my adult life. Not just from physical pain but also from the fact that clients' work was waiting. It’s only then that I thought about what you said the last time we talked.
My first company was registered last month, and I have you to thank for it. Even when I travel, I know work will still go on"

May be I should start charging for consultancy.

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