So, I drop my daughter off at day camp and head to Milliken Park off 585 for a session with my newest client.
We needed a nice shot for his new website (which you will all see within the next week). While I’m waiting, and fretting over the overcast sky, I go through my usual setting checks. Then this little guy walks in front of me and just stands there like this for a good 20 seconds. He was just waiting. <3 It was a sweet moment that I thought would be what shaped the rest of my day.
Then the client shows up and we spend ten minutes shooting a couple head shots. I get what I think I’m looking for and we pack up and walk back to the vehicles. After we say our goodbyes, he reaches over for what I think is our usual hand shake, but pulls me in for a hug and a giant smile.
Now, this guy has made my day every time I meet with him. He’s so excited to start moving his business forward and even though his budget is small and he may not understand the technical background of his website, he truly values my input and my work.
These connections are why I went out on my own. In-house and agency work is just not like that. You don’t connect with people this way. You don’t see the long term effects from outside. When you’re in a cubicle you can’t see the impact your creative work makes on your community, or even the “client”, who is actually your employer. It’s your job. It’s what you’re expected to do. They don’t often recognize your work. It’s like a production line.
No one notices until the work doesn’t get done.
I don’t need awards or public accolades to make me feel like my work makes a difference. Clients like these prove to me that what I do matters.
What I offer helps business owners see themselves as relevant and important and professional. It makes their audience see them that way as well. They create a standard for themselves to live up to and I love being their jumping off point.
I remember starting out eight years ago and how terrified I was that I would fail. These people that start little businesses out of their homes or garages aren’t “the little guy”. They aren’t living on the outside or the fringe. They matter just as much, if not more than, the big companies that fuel our materialistically focused society. “The Little Guy” is where all of those companies started.
We signify the foundation. If we stick together and treat one another kindly and respectfully … regardless of what business we’re in, what religion we practice, our gender or orientation, financial status or political opinions … we can make the difference we so desperately need. We can be the catalyst for the change we want to see. The change begins with us smiling at one another. Seeing one another and acknowledging and embracing our differences and our similarities.
My clients symbolize all people. They come from everywhere, all backgrounds and ideologies. Each one of them shapes my business and I shape each of theirs. Hell, I won’t stop there. Each one of them shapes my life. Each one of them has something to teach me as a person.
This guy, the one I shot today, loves his job. Even after 20 years. He gets excited. You guys, he maintains lawns. Yeah. Not what I would personally call exciting, but I’ll be honest, it makes me excited about his job too! And mine.
It’s easy to feel bogged down. Like I’m just cranking out work and no one is noticing. Then a client like this comes along and I go home giggling. Unable to wait to install the database and CMS on my server so I can send him the link to his new business website. It’s the epitome of cheesy geekdom, I know, but this is not just my work. It’s literally part of my LIFE. This client is now a part of my life. Whether it is a fleeting relationship or an ongoing partnership. His reaching out to embrace me as a person, rather than the gal he hires to make stuff … makes my job valuable.
What makes your job valuable?