Parlaying Sales Through Good Karma

Camera Girl
Camera Girl

So today’s entry is about leverage, more specifically how to parlay one job into the next. For this discussion I will review one of my latest projects, a group portrait for Disney Animation Studios. Read the Group Portraits and all that Schtick entry to get some background info on the actual shoot.

As some of you may be aware I had an ongoing business relationship with The Walt Disney Company from 1982 through 2001.  During this time I maintained excellent interpersonal relationships with about eighty different buyers throughout the company’s many divisions. I produced quality work for them, on time and with the gratitude that comes with being self-employed. They had chosen me to work with them and I was grateful. I generated a lot of good karma during this time. For a variety of reasons (9/11 being one of them), it declined and eventually stopped in early 2002.

Let’s forward to 2008. My teaching career is starting to decline (low student enrollments and the recession) so to take up the slack, I head back into the photography business more or less full-time. I have an agent, Wendi Kaminski who has been working with me to develop new work. I’m also working it on my end and have been getting back in touch with some of my past Disney connections. Slow going for sure but I am finally getting some traction. A professional colleague was booked for the group portrait but became unavailable when the date changed. So who ya gonna call? Exactly.

I was mentored early in my career by three different men, a photographer, a software engineer and a sales professional. The photographer told me that you have to put it out there in an honest and positive way and that karma will bring good things back to you. You cannot dictate the time or place, but it will find you as that is how the world behaves. At the time, being young and impressionable (as opposed to being old and impressionable), I bought into his philosophy hook line and sinker. This belief system has served me well. I have seen it work for me many, many times and I have seen it work for others.

In this instance when this colleague called me I was surprised, touched (that he would think of me) and not really surprised at all. I had been thinking about how to get in touch with some of these past Disney clients and this golden opportunity opens up before me. I look at my photography assignments holistically and in this case, I saw that if I could split this assignment into two separate photographs, I could send this second photograph to another division and perhaps develop a new contact and sale. I was also compelled to look for an opportunity to sell to another division because out of professional courtesy I agreed to not solicit my colleagues’ client for additional work. But nothing was said about other buyers/clients within the company. This second photograph was of the building by itself. After running the files through an HDRI Photoshop plugin, I printed it and sent it to the correct person within the division of Disney that handles architectural photography.

He was impressed and as of this writing, asked me to call him on Monday so we could talk about the photograph I sent and the potential for getting an assignment or two from him. He is the decision maker and the one person I needed to meet in order to get new work.

There is always  a way to parlay one good action into another, but you have to think first and act second.  And persevere. Until the people I’m trying to sell to say no and tell me I’m wasting my time, I see every contact as a sales opportunity. These opportunities  are always present, it is up to you have to bring them alive.

Sort of like Frankenstein only not as scary.

Do good work out there and don’t let others impede your forward motion.


Michael Stern

My work depicts, appreciates and honors the people who build. Their specialized equipment and stunning challenges are marvels I behold and get paid to interpret. Hope you enjoy this site.

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