Meeting "The American Pickers": A Story of Perseverance

A few months ago in Chicago, I was shooting the exterior, of a new chic hotel. It was a crisp fall morning, unseasonably warm, and the Gold Coast was still waking up. After lining everything up, and getting my frame squared away, I realized a car or two needed to be moved outside the hotel. The first one I walked up to was a white van, with the words "Antique Archeology" on the side. Immediately I knew I was about to encounter two guys, whom I really enjoyed watching. If you don't know, there is a show on the History Channel called "American Pickers." It's a great concept, and a fun adventure. One of the reasons I love the History Channel.

Sure enough, as looked to my left, I saw Mike Wolfe talking to his producer about 15 away, and Frank Fritz talking on his cell phone across the street. Similar to what you would expect, Mike was all smiles and Frank looked grumpy. Once Mike got done chatting, I approached him and gave him the "hey i'm a fan" routine. As you would expect, he was a super nice guy, even nicer in person, than on the show. We got to talking about the show and Mike's journey from Iowa to the world of television. Mike told me, he had to present the idea to The History Channel 5 different times, before they game him a shot. Let's recount that. Mike Wolfe, came up with the concept for his show, and had to meet and pitch the idea for "American Pickers" five different times before they gave him a a green light for the show. Can you imagine? The average person would have given up after the first time. After a second time? Even an ambitious dreamer, would have negativity creep in and think, maybe they're right, it's not a good idea for a show. But I was impressed.

Mike had an idea and he stuck with it. He didn't let anyone stop him. Either he was going to get his shot, or they were going to have to drag him out the door. As I was talking to Mike, Frank came over, tired and hungry. So I asked if I could take a shot of them. After seeing my camera Mike said "a shot of us with you right?" I replied, i'd rather just take a photo of them. So I lined them up and snapped a shot. It was fun, they seemed rather surprised and intrigued that I just wanted a picture of them. But, i've never been about posing with celebrities. Part of my job is to be behind the scenes, what I see through my lens is proof enough, I was there. Mike said they were headed out to do some taping and I wished him luck. It was a quick meeting, but an inspiring one never-the-less. In my world, you never know who you are going to run into. And i'm always happy to report, when people are as genuine in person, as they are on camera.

I think often when we see successful people, or successful businesses, or in this case, successful shows, we think everything happened overnight. As if out of thin air, success falls into someone's lap, and money rains from the sky. Worst of all, we let it get us down, because our perspective is so warped. Granted, nothing is guaranteed in life, but if you work hard enough, good things will happen. No one is going to put you on a stage in this world right away. Even if they did, you'd probably screw it up, because you wouldn't have enough experience making mistakes. Ashlee Simpson and Saturday Night Live anyone? So keep practicing your skills, don't give up, and be thankful for rejection. Rejection is the hammer, the red hot fire that tempers, forms, and sharpens your sword. The sword you will one day use to slay your insecurities, and conquer your goals. So keep believing!

Until next time,

JS