It’s Photo Plus Expo week in New York City, when photographers from around the world gather at Javits to look at new gear, take part in seminars and network. I don’t think I have missed an Expo since they began over 30 years ago. A lot has changed in the photography business over the past 30 years, but one thing is for certain and that is – it’s a very small world as far as the people who are part of this business.
Last night, I went to a couple of parties where I ran into quite a few people that I’ve met over the span of my career. Some I had done commissioned assignments for, some I had met through seminars that I had given and some were just old friends that I hadn’t seen in a very long time. But a couple of folks who approached me last night, and struck up a conversation, were people who had totally blown me off in years past – people who had simply ignored me. In every instance, these had been people who had recently experienced a shift in their own lives and now had a sudden interest in me and in what I was doing – to further their own gain.
I know that I have burned a few bridges in my lifetime and I’m sure there are some I’m not even aware of. (Anyone who tells you that they haven’t burned bridge is just simply not aware.) Some of those bridges, I have tried to rebuild and have succeeded. and some were beyond repair. What I have learned – and wish I had learned 20 years ago – is that everything comes around in your life, no matter how much you have grown or changed – the past is always present. And it seems easier sometimes to change the past – but of course that’s not possible.
What I’m finding now is that due to profound changes in the photography business as well as the lingering lousy economy, that the same people, who had ignored me or dismissed me a few years ago, were now acting like my “best friend”. I’m sure they didn’t remember how dismissive they had been to me – in fact I doubt that I was even on their radar at the time. But circumstances had changed in their lives and now they were taking notice of me and even asking for my help. I suppose I could say that they had burned a bridge with me but then again in most of these situations there had never been a bridge to burn to begin with.
The point is, you never know how your past will affect your future. You may think that you are in a position where you have no need for certain people in your life and be dismissive. But nothing lasts forever and if there is anything that I’ve learned by getting older – it’s just that. Our lives are made up of circles, each one connecting our past with our future. Consider that when dealing with people who come in and out of your life – because nothing ever stays the same. Many times you’ll find out that those people that you thought you had no use for in your past – may be key in your future. Hindsight is the best sight and you always get the best light from a burning bridge.