Yesterday I went to the DMV. There was a long line that snaked out of the door. We all knew that we would be there awhile and some people started to test out the waters of the people around them, someone to talk to to help pass the time.
The woman in front of me had taken a shine to the child in front of her, the man with the child asked if she would hold his spot while he ran out to his car real quick (presumably to change the child’s diaper). After he left, she turns to me and says, “He has 4 boys!” The implied message was that it was a lot of work and she was impressed with him. The child was very well behaved and quiet.
She told me that that child was 7 months old. I nodded and smiled, I wasn’t really sure what to say… I said something like, “yeah, that’s a lot of work. *awkward pause*. I don’t have any kids…”
“You don’t have any kids?”
“Oh, so you must have a lot of time…”
She looked younger than me, so I guess I was supposed to have kids at my age. I’m in my early 40s, but I think I look like I’m in my mid-30s.
“Well, I have a dog and a job…”
“Oh, what do you do?”
“I’m a photographer… ”
I don’t know why, but whenever I say *photographer* people get this look on their face like I’m going to whip out my camera and take their photo like I’m Richard Avadon or Annie Leibovitz. So I feel this need to stomp out that idea quickly.
“I have an online business… I take photos of bugs and flowers and stuff…”
“No people.” *awkward silence*
We stood there in the awkward silence for a little while, I wondered if I should get out a business card, or show her my website… but I could tell she wouldn’t be a customer. So the subject changed to something lame like how the line wasn’t moving very fast. We got past the awkwardness and had small talk for the next hour and a half. I learned what she did, we explained why we were there… the usual. And overall it was a pleasant way to spend my time at the DMV.
But I can’t shake the feeling that I really suck at marketing. My elevator pitch is just awful. Maybe I should lead with the word *Nature* as in Nature Photographer… that way I don’t have to start backpedaling when they get that sparkle in their eye. Then I wouldn’t have to fumble my way around explaining flowers not people.
I knew right away that I wouldn’t be taking photos of people when I started my endeavor to change my career and go back to school. I don’t feel comfortable in front of the camera, and so I don’t know how to make someone feel comfortable while I take their picture, even though I have a face that makes people feel comfortable enough to approach in the store to ask a question (I’m glad to help and usually know the answer). But I’m really an introvert and kind of a hermit. The thought of taking photos at a wedding just didn’t appeal to me. And photos of families in a studio (images of Olan Mills in my head) quite frankly frightens me. I know I’ll never be a Gregory Heisler.
The irony is not lost on me that I am not an Ansel Adams. But maybe I can be a Bryan Peterson, a Harold Davis, or a David Duchemin… I just need to work on my marketing skills.
Until next time…