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Try Not to Be Too Self-Involved

  • “I wanted to show everybody my prize tray of slides. ‘Wanna see my sight tray?’ became the extent of my conversation. Didn’t matter who you were. The poor FedEx guy would show up with a package. ‘Wanna see my sight tray?’”

Ever notice how a conversation with a photographer goes something like, “That’s enough about me, let’s talk about what you think of my work!”

We’re mildly self-involved. Especially after you’ve worked on a National Geographic story called “Sense of Sight” for the better part of a year, and it gets the cover and runs 40 pages. I was very proud of it. I wanted to show everybody my prize tray of slides. “Wanna see my sight tray?” became the extent of my conversation. Didn’t matter who you were. The poor FedEx guy would show up with a package. “Wanna see my sight tray?”

After that story, I put my feet up and waited for the phone to ring. And waited. And waited some more. Never happened. I had spent so long and had dived so deep into the story, I had to go out and pound the pavement, reminding people I existed.

It was a long haul before I got any work again. Bills were mounting. Couldn’t pay ‘em. It was bad. Not a happy household. Tense, in a word. I was on the phone with American Express, telling them they‘d get their money real soon. My now ex-wife called out from the kitchen, “Why don’t you show them your sight tray!”

Lots of lessons learned. Including the wherefores of a shot like this, which is basically spit, glue, and a whole bunch of luck.

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