Thursday, July 13, 2006

Another One In the Books.

As long as I'm talking anniversaries, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that this past 4th of July weekend, (yes, the weekend the camera went missing!) marked the 12th year of the existance of Shot On Site Photography. Time flies.

Back in 1994 I was just toiling with the masses in corporate America. I was a Regional sales manager for a manufacturer of environmental testing equipment in Ann Arbor. (A company that has since been sold to a British firm who's brought their "nanny state" rules to the table... I'm oh, so glad I got downsized out of there! Rumor has it, they're on the sales block again. Whenever we have dinner with an old workmate, I'm told how lucky I am to be out of there. No shit.)

So, downsizes happen... I'd already been toying with the idea of a part-time photography business. Even came up with the "Shot On Site" name while I was still working. When the axe fell, I was forced out of a state of inertia, and into action. My first gig was the MGA trial in Metamora, MI.

Now, things were a whole lot different back then. My cameras- a Nikon FM, and a Nikon FTn Photomic, were totally manual, as were the lenses... including a 500mm mirror lense. This means I would have to focus manually on a moving object.. the dog.. and advance the film, manually, after each exposure. Of course, I was shooting film, (digital cameras were $10,000 behemoths that only the New York Times and wealthy gadget freaks could afford), and needed to run out on Saturday night to find a 1-hour lab to get the film processed. Then I would have to number each print, and put them in presentation books to show on Sunday. Many late nights were spent in grungy Knights Inns, drinking beer, watching ESPN, (or adult fare on HBO), while I performed these menial tasks.

Of course, this also precluded shooting Sundays, the second day of most trials, because I would be busy showing and, hopefully, selling proofs, reprints, and enlargements to the trial entrants.

If that first event, 12 years ago, hadn't been a success, I may not be here writing this blog post. I'd probably be greeting you at WalMart instead. But it was successful beyond my wildest imagination! Over $700 gross sales, which we still consider good for many events even now. So I decided to keep doing it, and the rest, as they say, is history.

There are a couple of heroes I should mention. People who helped make it happen.. First, is Jack Helder, who told me about someone he saw at a trial in Lexington, KY who took pictures on Saturday, and returned with stock to sell the next day. I believe that might have been Robert Nix, who I wrote about here. If Jack hadn't made it sound easy, (little did I know..) I might have looked for work elsewhere. The photo that accompanies this post is Jack's "Mali". This was my first "famous" image. I've said often that it's the picture that "made Shot On Site", and I'm not joking. It's been used by ASFA in brochures, and has been published often, even in the UK.

The other person is Dr. John Burchard, now of California, but back then he lived in Rhode Island. The MGA trial weekend had, as a bonus event, the ASA (American Saluki Association) Brahma Cup trial, so John and his then wife, made the trek out in their Argosy. John was sufficiently impressed with my work that he spent an unheard of $150 on proofs, reprints, and enlargements. Once I knew there were people with dogs out there, who recognized talent, I knew I was going to be doing this for a long time.

There were others there, that weekend, and they all made it possible. I have so much fun doing what I do, that it hardly feels like work. Switching to digital three years ago, probably has something to do with that, too. LOL. Posted by Picasa

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