All The Times Things Fell Through And I Never Told Anyone

All The Times Things Fell Through And I Never Told Anyone

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I’ve had some amazing experiences and projects that have taken me to some grand and odd corners of the world. Quite a few things happened by luck, like my private audience with the Dalai lama, or having my first travel video go viral. Sometimes, unexpectedly cool projects come my way like traveling with the British Columbia Tourism Board for a spectacular week in British Columbia and getting paid to shoot a video about my experience. Or when I’m asked to fly to Norway to shoot an adventure video that involved climbing, arctic paddle boarding and just hanging out in the Lofoten Islands. It’s easy to make it sound like it’s one dream trip after another that fell into my lap starting with the viral video. It’s not. I spend hours looking for opportunities, applying to things, networking and many times I hear nothing back or things just don’t go the way I hope. I think it’s important to talk about these instances, because it shines a light on how many times things didn’t go right for the number of times they did.  And it shows some of the mistakes and lessons I learned along the way.

Leading A Photography Class Trip In China

After my video went viral, I received a lot of random requests. One of the interesting ones was to joining a group of private school high school students on a trip to China and teaching them about time lapse photography. Everything looked good to go. And then I received an email from the coordinator noting that the people in charge at the school did not like that I used the words “hell” and “shit” in my one of my blog posts. They were a Catholic program.

Lesson here? I’m not sure, but maybe just be yourself. I think if something like that was enough of a ideological dealbreaker, we would have had other potential problem on the trip. This had nothing to do with not being professional. I offered to remove those two words, but never heard back. If I could do it again, I wouldn’t have even offered to remove those two words. If I didn’t feel like I should be using it on my website, then it shouldn’t be there. If it’s there, it’s because that’s what I wanted to say. Choices. Consequences. Making my bed and sleeping in it. You get it.

Being Invited By The Indonesian Tourism Board For A Two Week Diving Trip

Last year, someone reached out on behalf of Indonesian’s Tourism Board asking me if I would be interested in doing a two week dive trip in some of Indonesia’s most exclusive dive spots and create content about it. This was a no-brainer and I was super excited. They asked me to send in a media kit, which I promptly did, highlight my underwater and aerial photography and why I’d be a great fit for the project. After waiting for 3 weeks, I found out I was not selected. Heartbreak.

Lesson here? Sometimes you could be perfect for a project and still not get it. I never got an explanation. Alternatively, I applied for a massive multi-month travel filmmaker gig years earlier, with very little expectations, and got a last minute invite for an interview. If it wasn’t for my schedule not working out, I felt like I had a good chance of winning the travel gig. In this case, I definitely wasn’t perfect for a project, but I applied anyway and gave it a shot that almost ended up working out.

Last Minute Projects In Saudi Arabia and Kuwait

I occasionally do work with a production house that makes purpose films for large brands. They’ve licensed my footage and asked me to shoot a few things for projects with Coca-Cola and Mercedes-Benz. We’ve also talked for years about doing some bigger project together. Every year it seems, we get really close to a project that never seems to bear fruit. Last year, it was a last minute minute trip to shoot some drone footage in Saudi Arabia. This year it was a project in Kuwait. I get my hopes up and then nothing. I understand the nature of how these projects work, so I’m not angry. It is what it is.

Lesson here? Nothing’s guaranteed. I spend time putting together proposals, doing research and sometimes even altering my schedule on the off-chance the project gets a green light. I know there’s a good chance it’s not going to happen, but I’ll do it anyway, because that still keeps the chance alive. When that project finally happens, I’ll be glad I didn’t quit on them.

Shoot For A Japanese Show In Bolivia

This was another opportunity that came a couple of years after the success of my time lapse video. I received a request to shoot time lapse footage for a Japanese show that was highlighting travel destinations around the world. They asked if I could fly to Bolivia to shoot for a few days and what my rate would be. At the time, I had no idea what to quote them. I threw out a number that in hindsight was pretty fair and I never heard back.

Lesson here? Know the fee that you’re willing to do a project for? I don’t know if that was even the ultimate factor that resulted in a lack of response. Negotiating blindly is never fun, so what I’ve learned since is to know your rate and stick to that. If a company really wants to work with you, they will accept your rate or request further communication regarding budget. I’ve since figured out my day rates and project fees as well as having various projects with which to back these numbers up. I’m confident about my rates and what I offer. For projects that have worked out, I’m not negotiating from a weak position and if a company can afford my services, we will both enter into the agreement satisfied.

Film An Adventure Video For A Sailing Company In The Caribbean, South China Seas and Iceland

This one looked like it had some legs. The owner of a sailing company saw my Burning Man video and was really interested in having me shoot a film for one of his trips. Timing didn’t work out on the first trip he wanted me to join, and we continued to exchange emails for months about potential trips that were being planned, as well as agreeing on budget. And then nothing.

Lessons here? Keep going. It doesn’t take much effort to continue correspondence. It was a response whenever he had more information and an email from me if I had finished a cool project that I wanted to share. It didn’t work out for whatever reason on his end that I’ll never be privy to, but I know it wasn’t due to a lack of enthusiasm on my end. I’ve ended up doing similar trips of other companies since where the continued communication paid off.

Applying For A Reality TV Show

I applied for American Ninja Warrior with a polished video and a “story” that seemed to fit their mode. I did not get the call. I applied for a Spartan Race show with a group that was basically ear-marked to be picked. We put together good application writing what we thought they wanted to hear. We didn’t get in. I applied for a military special ops show where they wanted to put civilians through two weeks of special ops training. I had no business applying and wrote my application filled with my honest doubts, hopes and fears. I got multiple call backs and interviews and went through all the background checks with everything but an official green light that I was in. As far as I was concerned, I was just waiting for the show to get a 2nd season. It didn’t.

Lessons here? Keep trying. And don’t try to fool anyone. I know there’s the fake-it-til-you-make-it approach to things, but there’s also the honesty-is-the-best-policy approach. As with anything, if you start off having to create a deception or trying to be something/someone you are not, it gets harder and harder to keep that persona/perception up. It’s easier to just be you.

So What’s The Big Lesson Here?

Keep trying and doing and then continue to keep trying and doing. When my video went viral, it was completely unexpected as were the subsequent opportunities that came with it. I definitely took advantage of some of those opportunities and the momentum at first, but became complacent. Luckily, I realized this and starting find new streams of opportunities. I reached out to companies that I liked. I emailed people, blogs, and media outlets to collaborate and find new ways to get exposure. This is the not so glamorous side that most people don’t see. And as I’ve finally shared, there were many times where things feel through, over and over and over again. As much as I see success today, I still see a lot of failure, and that’s what keeps me hungry.


Updated on November 11, 2021


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