Growing up I lived several years on a boat. Me, my little sister and my dad. By profession my dad was a stockbroker but by personality, he’s a perfectionist. Owning a boat means a lot of maintenance and when things are not properly maintained on boats it always costs more money in the future but this was never why he was such a stickler with who cared for our floating home. My dad unequivocally believes that pride should always be taken in your work from the most mundane task of cleaning a toilet to the honors of saving a life. To him, each job should always be done to the best of your ability the first time. Remember that I didn’t end that sentence with ‘the right way’ but I’ll get back to that later.
After hiring and firing many a man to varnish, wash, wax, and a plethora of other tasks either for lack of pride or lack of soberness sometimes, my dad made up his mind that he would start his own detail business and do it correctly! I was fourteen when he opened the doors of Felix Marie Industries, his first purchase was this humungous old utility truck, and when I say truck I mean what the baggens drove on 101 Dalmatians only bigger. He had it painted the brightest yellow imaginable and after having the lettering placed, he insisted that he drive me to school in it – the point is he took pride in each detail, even his truck. So instead of our normal, very nice family SUV, the bright yellow service truck, (complete with lift and siren in which he would blast upon dropping me off just to give my friends a laugh) delivered me to school. I may not have always realized it than but I know now that he’s the greatest! When dad decides to start something, he goes 100% and he secretly taught me the same lesson with out me even knowing it!
Now this story is not all about success, rather it’s about the opposite and it’s predecessor at the same time! The first job Felix ever brought in was for the personal yacht of the owner of one of the largest trucking companies on the west coast. My dad brought the crew to the boat, gave direction and the guys went to work. The job was a complete failure. They did terrible work. But it’s my dad’s response that teaches the lesson. When confronting the problem and talking with Mr. “Smith”. He apologized, reimbursed all of his money and said, ‘in a few years when we get this together, hopefully you will try us again.’ FMI has been running for 13 years and Mr. “Smith” is a client. The point is that we are new at this, and still learning and we are not going to get it right every time. We may botch a session so badly we offer a reshoot or perhaps it’s realizing that poor business skills are pulling you down. No matter what “it” may be, we all have them and it’s how we handle our failures that will truly distinguish what we are.
At Felix Marine they are not the cheapest, (opposite actually) they are the best. They have built a slow and steady name for being the very best in the business. They are who the elite go to because every client is catered to and treated as if they are the only client. It is what it is and just like you know the quality is going to be greatly different between a real Fendi and the knock-offs, so to can people see the difference in any other trade or service.
I have learned a lot from my dad and we talk often about my business and his and how many parallels there really are. I use the 4 years that I ran operation for his company constantly in my business and I am always determined to have that same attitude of giving the very best even when I falter.
My last though is this… It is critical that we (the photographers) see the value in our selves and our work! We are going to make mistakes, we will have failures but what we offer is a gift! If we don’t see it how can we expect anyone else to? My dad has asked me multiple times, ‘but what is it breaking down to hourly?’ I recently read a fabulous article on MCPAction by Jodie Otte that really drove the question home. I strongly encourage everyone to go read it!! Let’s stop selling ourselves short! What I do has greater value than my dad’s mechanics (and it lasts longer too) and they charge $150 an hour. Are you selling yourself short? I know I have and I’ve given it a hundred titles and excuses as to why, but what is my time and even more so my family worth? I challenge myself and you to be a little better and expect a little more!
Something to think about.