“Opportunity comes like a snail, and once it has passed you it changes into a fleet rabbit and is gone.” –Arthur Brisbane.
There’s a Hindu proverb that says, “A man who misses his opportunity, and the monkey who misses his branch…cannot be saved.” On September 12th I will be celebrating 30 years of life. Most view the end of one’s twenties as a milestone, however I view it as just another year of life-and opportunities for new beginnings. At this age, virtually everyone finds him or her self dissatisfied with financial status. We often have lofty goals and expectations and envisioned our careers going much better than they are. Rather than sit back and blame the economy and conjure conspiracy theories about the government and recessions, I take that time to evaluate what I could be doing to rectify this situation. If you know me well, you know that I believe that the company one keeps is just as important as one’s education or intellectual capacity. My personal mantra is “If you hang around nine broke muthafuckas…you’re bound to be the tenth.”
I’m reaching that point where I am looking to surround myself not just with people who provide fun…but people who are of like attainment-people who want the same things out of life that I do.
The cool thing about my photography career is I feel as though I’m finally beginning to receive the respect and credit that I’ve wanted for so long. The market in Philadelphia still sucks and I’ve been shooting all over and waiting for my big chance to show what I can do. Just when I begin to grow frustrated and second-guess my talents, another amazing opportunity presents itself-and I’m reminded that I am destined for great things. I was invited to shoot the Walish Gooshe Fashion Event in D.C. Walish Gooshe is the high fashion women’s wear line owned by Gregory Taylor- who I photographed previously while working as the fashion photographer for pH Magazine. I covered two of his runway shows held in Philadelphia, which were amazing, and now I was being invited to cover the 1st annual D.C fashion event. Covering an event like this is a great experience; Working around fashion designers will sometimes resurrect that itch to resume my aspirations to get back into designing (I was a fashion design major in college), and to be around so much creativity is very inspirational. But for now…fashion photography is my love, and it’s what I think will enable me to achieve great success one day.
Making it in this industry can be one of the most difficult things for man to accomplish. Oftentimes, opportunities are few and far between. I am always looking not just to attain success for myself, but also to help friends maximize their potential and make it as well. I decided to contact a friend from college who lives in D.C and inform her that I’d be coming to her hometown to shoot a fashion show. Like many of us in this field, she had not achieved the status that she wanted; she works at a fashion boutique in D.C, with hopes of one day becoming a fashion stylist. She was unhappy with her current job and always complained about the lack of opportunities. I told her that I would be covering a major televised fashion show, and if she were interested, could attend the show with me. Attending a major show would open up opportunities to meet professionals working directly in the industry-many of them with flourishing companies located in her hometown. She said that she’d love to go, and I found myself feeling very good at the fact that I had been blessed with a great opportunity and could help a fellow artist with a pivotal opportunity.
I hadn’t seen my friend in several years. We both attended Cheyney University, but she transferred after her first year to attend another HBCU. Through social networking sites like myspace and facebook, we maintained communication and spoke several times on the phone-often about our career paths and how to make it. There were many people who would have jumped at the chance to attend, but I felt she had the most to gain from it…so the choice was clear. I gave her the date and time of the event and we ended our conversation a few minutes later.
A week had passed and it was now Monday. The Runway show was scheduled for that Saturday. I decided to give her a call and see what was up. I asked her if she were still interested in attending. She replied, “Of course! Why would you think I wouldn’t?”
I simply stated that I hadn’t heard anything in a few days and didn’t know if she had forgotten, wasn’t interested or perhaps something else. She said that she couldn’t wait and repeated the date and time exactly as I had explained to her a week ago. She told me that she would call me right back. Of course she didn’t. Days passed and Monday soon became Friday. The show was scheduled for Saturday. Growing annoyed at her lack of enthusiasm at such an opportunity, I decided to place one final call. The conversation was short, but once again she assured me that she were still interested and would be there. She said that she’d call after 9:00 because she was at work. I believed that statement about as much as I believed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Of course…she didn’t.
Saturday came, and I made the three hour ride from Philadelphia to D.C. I told myself that I wouldn’t call her anymore. If she shows…she shows. At the end of the day, it’s her career. Me, being the professional I am, found a free parking space in Northwest D.C and arrived at the K lounge an hour early. I hung around until the show’s 8:00 start time and then turned off my blackberry. There were no calls, emails or texts. It would appear as though she was a no-show. Hmmm…
After a phenomenal show and some great shots captured, I began to leave the K lounge and make my way back to my car. I turned it on and there was a text message that came through. There was a text from Miss “no-show” which read: Are you here?
I responded: Yes. Just finished shooting the show. You didn’t show. She then wrote: You didn’t call me. Now I was beginning to get angry. With my blackberry battery low, I stopped at a nearby hotel and charged my phone in a lobby outlet. I called her and I’m sure the irritation was evident in my voice. “You were supposed to call me,” she said. She was going to have to come up a better excuse than that to appease my anger now. “No…you were supposed to call me,” I said. I would expect this type of nonsense from a pre-teen, but when it comes to the career of a 27-year-old woman…I cannot feel bad for these kinds of actions. I began to tell her that her attendance to this show was strictly for her benefit and if she didn’t take it seriously, then it’s her career. She said that she was currently in her apartment with “her friend” and was going to “hit me right back in two seconds.” Right. “My friend” is the black females way of saying “I’m here with a GUY.”
I hope that the dick was magical, because moments later I was on the road back to Philly and deleting her number from my phone. I just feel as though I’ve progressed to a point in my life where I cannot be affiliated with people who don’t have their shit together. When someone offers you a golden opportunity, and you basically bullshit them and make them look like a fool after trying to help you…then I feel as though I have no more use for that type of person. Do you guys feel as though I was wrong for my actions? Or were her actions a prerequisite of what to expect from that kind of friend? The opportunity to attend a $75 fashion show and priceless opportunity to meet industry professionals who can change your life-you’ve got to be a complete moron to not show up. And the caliber of person who would do that to someone in a professional environment-in a field that I take so seriously…says a lot. Am I overreacting? Lemme know what you guys think…
This is my life…this is what I do…
...These Are The Random Thoughts Of Ronald Gray…