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Sometimes the biggest obstacles we face in life come from ourselves. We have a dream, but we talk ourselves out of it before we even begin because of our fear. This was almost the case when deciding to create Future American President.
My idea was to travel to every state in America and photograph children as a way to inspire them to dream big. I wanted to help children imagine themselves as the President of the United States by telling them I believe they have the ability to become the president, and then photographing them as a future president. I believe by combining a profound moment with a simple but powerful question, "what would you do if you were the President of the United States 50 years from now.", then this moment could possibly create a spark in a child's life. Maybe even inspire that child to do great things in the future and become a future American president.
My fear almost stopped me before I even began. The fear part of my idea came from wanting to approach families that I did not know, strangers, and asking them if I can photograph their children. My internal fight with fear had me doubtful about the project one day and excited the next. The first test came in Las Vegas when I approached my first family. The lump in my stomach reminded me of playing sports as a kid. That fear I had right before a game as my stomach was in knots came back as I approached my first family. With sports, as soon as the game started, the fear (the knot in my stomach) went away as soon as the whistle blew to start the game. It was exactly the same with doing this book project. The first family that I approached in Las Vegas looked at me like I was crazy, (or my fear had me thinking so) but I put all my passion for this project in every single word as I described what I was doing. The family in Las Vegas was a big family, which increased the fear factor, but they surrounded me and listened as I shared my concept.
To give the families confidence in my ability to make this project come to life, I brought along my first two books, Sepia Dreams and Lost and Found. I also brought along examples of my celebrity work. This helped to let the families know that I was capable of bringing this project to life, and to let them know I wasn't some crazy person with a camera.
When I finished talking to the first family, they all looked at each other and said, "sure, if he wants to do it", then they turned to their son and asked him if he wanted to be photographed. He must have wondered what in the world was going on, because all of the sudden all the adults were giving him their full attention, and I was on my knees telling him that I believe he has the ability to do great things in life one day, even the ability to become the president one day.
The next thing I knew I was setting up my Profoto strobe lights, taking light meter readings, (which always makes my subject curious) and giving my six-year-old subject his board to hold. The photo shoot went well and my subject, little Chase, was serious and presidential in his images. As I photographed him, his entire family looked on smiling and taking pictures of the moment. After the 5 minute photo shoot ended, I asked Chase to write down what he would do if he were the President of the United States 50 years from now. He looked up as he held my sharpie and started to think. His family was now beginning to repeat the question, and started to write. His mother helped him but only a little bit, and soon his statement was complete and the project was on its way.
Sometimes our fears can get the best of us and talk us out of doing something incredible, like creating that amazing new product, or bringing a life changing idea to life. The road to success is paved with bricks of fear and doubt, but you have to just walk around, walk over or jump over your fear and get on the path to creating the life you want most.
Future American President is now completed and available, but something new and exciting is coming in July, 2015.
Always Dream Big