Thanks to a tip from my buddy Elliot O’Donovan today, I discovered that one of my photographs is making its rounds on the internet today after appearing in Wired. In about 12 hours, the image has nearly 3200 notes/reblogs on tumblr alone. Want to know the crazy part? I did this photoshoot 4 years ago. You see, this came from a personal shoot I did for my portfolio. I learned about the prototype Biosuit in some online article and I was so passionate about shooting it that I chased down the designers, Dava Newman and Gui Trotti at MIT, to beg them to let me photograph it. I scoured the internet for their contact information and hit them up. After some persuasion and showing them my website, I convinced them to let me fly down (on my own dime) to NASA’s Cape Canaveral location on my own dime and photograph the suit (modeled by the suit’s inventor, Dava) while it was on display at some space expo.
I had no plans on what I would do with these photos after I was done other than put them in my portfolio and possibly do a promo piece or two with it. I was just so passionate about photographing the Biosuit, I just knew I had to do it. About 6 months after the photos sat in my portfolio I decided to do an email promo with 1 of the images. Within 10 minutes of the email blast going out, National Geographic called me asking to run the photo in an upcoming article. Last year, I got an email from Discovery Channel Magazine about doing a cover with one of my Biosuit portraits. Last month, I was contacted by the American Museum of Natural History in NYC. They commissioned one of my Biosuit shots for a long term exhibit on space exploration. Yesterday, Wired posted one of my Biosuit images, and it is make its way virally across the web.
I think the bigger lesson to be shared here is that you should shoot content that you truly are passionate about… subjects that drive you. In this case, a personal shoot may have cost me time and money but paid off in stock sales and many thousands (possibly many tens of thousands?) of views on the web and newsstands over the years. Shoot for you. Shoot what you think is cool. The rest will follow.