I’ll never forget my first assignment with a national magazine as a sports photographer’s assistant more than 20 years ago. My job was to photograph the top three men and top three women finishers of the 1994 Boston Marathon.
At the time I believed it was my one and only chance to have a sports photography job. Since it was such a rare opportunity, I shared with the photographer that my dream was to work at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
He immediately discouraged me from holding onto that dream. He told me it was an impossible dream and that I was sure to be disappointed. Every photographer wants to be assigned to the Olympics.
I couldn’t help it. I kept the dream alive.
Fortunately, my first assignment went well. Capturing images of the first 3 male finishers is easy. However, photographing the top 3 female finishers is much harder, because they are finishing in a pack of male runners. The photographer even told me upfront, “I don’t expect you to photograph all of the women winners. It’s just too difficult. I’ll be happy if you just photograph the first place woman, but that may not even happen.”
I captured all 6 runners on film – one roll of 36 frames of film, three frames per runner, the top 3 men and the top 3 women.
Oh, what a feeling!
Three weeks after the 1994 Boston Marathon, I visited the photographer at the magazine’s headquarters in New York City. He introduced me to the executives and editors in the photo department. Later, he would refer me to other sports photographers who needed photo assistants.
I made every effort to keep ties with the photographer and the magazine in anyway that I could without becoming a nuisance.
Over the next two years, I was able to work with several sports photographers and develop an understanding of the magazine publishing business.
Three weeks before the 1996 Summer Olympics were to begin, the USA Olympic Gymnastic trials were being held in Boston. In the days leading up to the Gymnastic trials, I received a call from the photographer I had assisted at the 1994 Boston Marathon asking if I could assist him at the Gymnastic trials.
“YES!”, I excitedly screamed through the phone.
Oh, what a feeling!!
Fortunately, once again, the assignment went well.
The following week, I received a call from the Director of Photography at the magazine who simply said, “Kid, you’re in! You’re on our photography team for the 1996 Olympics.”
He went on to explain that the photographer from the 1994 Boston Marathon and the Olympic Gymnastic trials had personally requested that I assist him at the 1996 Summer Olympics – yes, the same one who told me to let go of my impossible dream!
Oh, what a feeling!!!
Fortunately, my boss allowed me to use all of my vacation time to take off and live my impossible dream at the 1996 Olympics. It was one of the highlights of my life!
I’ve never forgotten those feelings or experiences. Things just seemed to continually fall into place during that magical time in my life.
Those feelings have been my guide throughout the past 20+ years. Whenever something comes into my life that makes me feel as good as those experiences did, I always know I am heading in the right direction. I can always tell when that happens, because during those times, things seem to magically fall into place.
By the same token, if I find myself feeling miserable, or find that I’m struggling in an uphill battle, it’s also a sign that I’ve gone off track. Life shouldn’t be this hard. It’s time to re-evaluate, adjust, and live in alignment with what really makes me happy.
Notice how you feel. Live in alignment with your true self.
That’s the only way to live impossible dreams.