"If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas."
- George Bernard Shaw
In 2010 I graduated with a bachelor of science in mass communication/media and a minor in photography. As a young, aspiring creative, I had grand ideas of how the next twenty years would look. Of two things I was certain: I am a competent individual, and it’s important I be my own boss. I immediately started my photography business, JL Photography, and did not realize the roller coaster I was in for. The next six years proved to be a wild ride, with lots of ups and downs, and turns I never expected. At many times I felt as though I was floundering. I still haven’t gotten off the roller coaster, and sometimes still feel as though I am barely keeping my head above water. Never did I expect things to unfold as they have. I have done a few things right and a whole lotta things wrong. The plans I had as a new graduate have changed, my goals have altered, and my idea of success, and how to achieve it, has been reshaped.
In my opinion, one of the greatest mistakes young ALL creatives make is letting ego prevent growth. When I started JL Photography I wanted to turn it into the greatest (deep breath) wedding, portrait, event, bar mitzvah, funeral, commercial studio EVER. And who would help me achieve this goal? No one, I could handle it all on my own.
Early on I was primarily concerned with proving myself. I spent an immense amount of time trying to stay up-to-date on all the latest technology and what gear I needed to save up for. I was determined to show I could do and learn everything on my own, and as a result I did not prioritize areas of business and creative growth that should have been prioritized. I managed all aspects of my company, including marketing and social media, customer service, production, post-production, and bookkeeping, while simultaneously attempting to educate myself on how to become a better photographer and business owner. By focusing on my ego, I inadvertently overlooked what I now believe to be the single greatest path to success - COLLABORATION. Over time I realized that if I really wanted to improve, I needed to let go of my ego and admit that I could benefit from working with and learning from other photographers and business owners.
Near the end of 2010, I came in touch with Chris Futcher of Christopher Futcher Photography. All I knew about Chris (outside of the fact that he is cousins with my then-girlfriend, now-wife) was that he lived just east of Toronto, Canada, had successfully established a micro-stock portfolio, and had become an exclusive contributor to iStock/Getty Images. One thing led to another, and in 2011 I found myself on a plane to Toronto.
Over the past five years Christopher Future Photography became Kaspi Inc. and Kaspi Films. Likewise, I rebranded JL Photography as Fly View Aerial. My collaboration with Chris has directly influenced the direction I have taken my business, and the growth it has seen. Following my initial trip to Toronto in 2011, I decided to narrow the focus of my business to stock photography and video, rather than attempting to establish myself in the ultra-saturated areas of wedding and portrait photography. In addition, a trip to Toronto in 2012 served as the catalyst for my foray into aerial video and photography drone work.
In recent years drones, for good reason, have become THE thing to have on a production set. When Chris began building drones and marketing Kaspi as an aerial video and photography production company, Kaspi quickly become an established name in Canada and was thrust into the booming age of UAVs. In 2012, after seeing Chris’ success, I too became interested in drones and figured that with Chris’ guidance, the learning curve couldn’t be all that huge (just slightly incorrect). At this time there were only a few established UAV operators in the Pacific Northwest, and I knew that if I did things right, I had a good chance of breaking into that niche and solidifying my place before the industry completely blew up. So, I blindly dove head first into aerial production and rebranded my company as Fly View Aerial. I really can’t begin to list all the things I screwed up. There was a huge learning curve and it was extremely difficult. Pursuing aerial was an immense investment of time, energy and finances. I was constantly building, repairing and making adjustments on my custom drones. Early on my successes were few and far between and my resilience was tested. I pushed on and was constantly reminded of the need for collaboration. I continued to receive help from Chris and sought assistance from others involved with UAVs in and around the Portland, Ore. area. The stress associated with pursuing aerial video and photography probably aged me an additional 10 years, but it has been a total thrill and has allowed me to meet and work with amazing and talented individuals. If I could go back and do it differently, I wouldn’t.
While both Kaspi Films and Fly View Aerial have continued to find success in their respective aerial markets, Chris and I have also continued to update the stock portfolio Chris established back in 2008. The Kaspi team primarily operates out of Canada and Fly View Aerial primarily operates out of the United States, but we have sought opportunities to collaborate. Between 2010 and now, Chris and I have spent thousands of hours together both in Toronto and the western United States. We have completed hundreds of shoots, lived in an RV for several months while traveling for work, and strategized over Skype what our business goals are and how to achieve those goals. Chris’ creative talents have inspired and motivated me. In addition, I have learned more about business practices and the necessity of analytical thinking when owning and operating a business in a month’s worth of serious, intentional conversations with Chris, than in my entire four years of undergraduate studies.
So what the heck is the purpose of going down memory lane and how is it relevant to the present? With multiple contractors working with and shooting for both of our teams and each of us having full time producers, Chris and I have reached a point where the stock portfolio, FatCamera on iStock.com, is increasing in assets by hundreds weekly. Between Kaspi and Fly View Aerial, we shoot and upload content from anywhere between 30-50 photo/video shoots per month. We want to have a space where all the collaboration we’ve done and will continue to do is centralized. Kaspi Creative will allow us to brand what we do in a unified way.
I strongly believe that without the influence of Chris and the opportunities I have had to collaborate with him, I would not have learned what I have and it is very likely I would not have ever chosen to pursue stock and aerial. Chris and I both realize our collaboration has helped our businesses flourish, and we believe Kaspi and Fly View Aerial have reached a point where re-branding together is necessary. Thus enters Kaspi Creative. I am incredibly excited about what Kaspi Creative has in the works, and am confident in our ability to continue to bring you high quality content that is not only pretty to look at, but useful in a variety of applications. Thanks for being a part of our journey and for following along!
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