Thanks for helping me celebrate my 20th Business Anniversary, 1996-2016!
Working for oneself in a creative field for so many years has surely had its pluses and its minuses. It’s not been a straight path, by any means, but more of a meandering, stop-and-start, jump-this-pothole-and-avoid-that-ditch, sort of journey. I expect it’s that way for most small businesses. Twenty years on from where I started, I’ve just had my 49th birthday, my wife and I our 20th anniversary, our two kids are middle and high schoolers, and my business has lasted for two full decades. Thinking back on what motivated me in the first place — just trying — I’m a little stunned that something so simple led to all this. But the satisfaction of trying, and building, and persevering, and stumbling, and trying again has been more rewarding than I could ever have imagined back when I was 28 years old and just starting out.
During college in the 1980’s, my parents had encouraged me to pursue my passion for photography but in a somewhat ironic role reversal I declared that I needed a “real” major — in history — in order to get a “real” job. After my grad school plans derailed with the start of a recession in 1990, I instead had a very fortuitous chance to work with a then-new restaurant company as they opened and grew. What the young owners saw in an even younger college graduate with a liberal arts education and some pretty basic prior experience, I’ll never know. But to this day, I remain incredibly grateful for the confidence they showed in me and the business experience that it led to as I rose to a General Manager position. I have no doubt that I wouldn’t be here today, celebrating my own 20 year business anniversary, without the knowledge and the confidence that working for them many years ago gave me – thanks guys. That restaurant group has been through many iterations, but both Dan Gordon and Dean Biersch continue to operate their own places in the San Francisco Bay Area — go check them out if you can!
By 1995, I was starting to feel restless and contemplating the first of the seven career changes that the experts say we all go through in our working lives. Having developed and indulged my passion for photography in the years after college, I began to wonder if I could turn that passion in to a career. At the age of 28 and feeling like I knew it all, I told myself, “I don’t want to be fifty and wishing I’d tried.” Boy, did fifty seem so impossibly far away and old at the time! With the incredible patience, understanding, and encouragement of my parents and my fiancé, now wife, I returned to school in photography and started this really amazing experience in Washington DC in the Fall of 1996, and continued it two years later here in Seattle.
In order to get here, I couldn’t be more grateful for everyone who has helped me stay on track. From my parents who encouraged me to pursue a dream, to those early restaurant guys who took a chance on someone with more enthusiasm than experience, to Bill Geiger and Dan Whipps and Paula Lerner and the other photographers who helped show me the ropes, and mostly to my fantastic wife and kids who put up with my moods in good weeks and bad but never once have doubted me as much as I have myself — I can only say a truly heartfelt thank you. You’ve helped me realize a life’s dream and I hope I can pay it forward in your honor.
And lastly to all of my fantastic clients who have offered me your projects and come back year after year, thank you for your trust and support. I know it wasn’t done out of charity or sympathy, that you had real needs that you believed I could solve for you. Still, there were dozens of other photographers you could have chosen but at that time, and for that job, you hired me — and many of you have done so again and again. Your combined trust and support has helped lead me here, twenty years down the line from just trying, and I can’t thank you enough. I hope we’re all still enjoying this as much when the next decade comes along.
So with all of my gratitude to my family, friends, clients, and advisors — thank you for helping me achieve a dream these past twenty years! Here’s wishing us all the very best continued good fortune.
Fall, 2016 – Seattle