Life is full of surprises and sometime they all come at once. This week I'm reminded of a situation I had a few years ago in which I had to make a decision on an assignment. I was hired to photograph a family portrait for Michael Jordan by Michael. It would be the first family portrait with everyone in the photograph. It took months to schedule but we finally found a day when it worked for everyone and finally everything was set. The day before I am flying off with my crew to do the shoot of the Jordan Family I get a call from an organization that wants me to fly to South Africa to photograph Nelson Mandela, but they needed me to jump on a plane that night and fly to South Africa to work in Mr. Mandela's schedule.
What happened? I turned the Mandela shoot down and referred a friend to do the shoot. My buddy flew to South Africa that night and when he arrived he had fifteen minutes to photograph Mr. Mandela. He did a great job and today a gigantic photo graces the walls of his place and I am reminded of that shoot each and every time I enter his place. At the end of the day, I know I made the right decision and I had a great shoot with the Jordan Family, but I was totally conflicted and torn apart about the Mandela shoot and it haunts me to this day.
I met Michael Jordan through Martha Stewart believe it or not. I was hired to photograph Ms. Stewart at her house and sent flowers to be delivered before we arrived. As we pulled up Ms. Steward was just finishing an interview with Barbara Walters so we had to wait to come in. When we finally entered Martha screamed at my assistant's to take off their shoes before coming in the house and then said, "and who is Matthew"! My assistants pointed toward me and she looked and me and came over and gave me a huge hug and said, I love these flowers! We had an amazing shoot and after the shoot as my crew and I drove back to Manhattan, my agent called me to inform me that Ms. Steward had called herself to book me for two jobs. The first was a photo shoot with Michael Jordan and that is where I first had the opportunity to work with MJ. Michael and I were both born in Brooklyn, NY but he grew up in North Carolina and I grew up in South Carolina. If you're wondering, I'm horrible at basketball but I can say I got to play basketball at Michael's house once.
Throughout your photography career you will have challenges and conflicts with schedules as they always come up, but know this is just the nature of the business. It seems work is either slow or you are busy as hell but there is no in-between. At the end of the day, it is a blessing to be able to work and have clients who want your talent and vision. Not all decision are easy but who said life was easy. Enjoy each day and live life to the fullest and along the way take great pictures.
Always Dream Big!