Seven years ago, Nick Carter found himself out of work when he was laid off from Iron Mountain, an information management firm in Manhattan where he was working as a Records Manager. What at first seemed like a disastrous turn ended up molding him into what he is today: a photographic artist.
For many, starting a small business is something that always seems just out of reach, something that might happen, only if x,y, and z happen first. What is it exactly that small business owners and entrepreneurs have that allow them to bypass the usual excuses and take what many would consider extraordinary risks? Is it something tangible, like a subscription to a little known investor's newsletter, or something more spiritual and harder to put your finger on?
I had the opportunity to sit down with photographer Nick Carter on the fifth floor of his office in downtown New Rochelle to ask him these very questions. Carter is affable and down to earth, despite being in the enviable position of living his life's passion. On the walls of his office are various wedding and other photographs that showcase his unique ability to capture a memorable shot.
We discussed the “serious level of self-belief” involved in starting your own business and some important things to consider before incorporating and joining the ranks of the self-employed.
Rob Rennie: “Where are you from originally?”
Nick Carter: “Niagara Falls. I moved to New York in ’89 with my band. We used to do jazz and R&B, but it didn't exactly pan out, so that’s when I took an office job working for Iron Mountain as a records manager. It was really boring.”
RR: “At what point did you get involved in photography?”
NC: “I've always been into photography. I took a class in high school where we would go outdoors and just take shots of the scenery and develop them in darkrooms. I guess you could say I was always a hobbyist, taking pictures of my friends at school, at concerts, street scenes.”
RR: “When did you decide to quit being a hobbyist and start your own business?”
NC: “Oh boy. When I was formally laid-off from Iron Mountain about seven years ago, that was the opportunity that allowed me to pursue photography full time, but for years, I would sit at work and think, ‘There's got to be more to life than this.’ This was after 9/11, my mother also passed away at around that time and I was left trying to put the pieces together. I just said, ‘I’m going for broke here and even if I have to sleep in my car, I'm going to do it.’ It's funny, once I committed to it, the doors started to blow open.”
RR: “Really? What do you mean?”
NC: “Well, I heard about this photo-video network out of Jersey that would contract out work to the different photographers who were part of the group. That was how I really cut my teeth and got some good experience doing weddings. I made a lot of contacts like that. Eventually, I started getting referrals, did a little advertising and branched out on my own.
RR: “Aside from weddings, are there any interesting projects you're working on?”
NC: “Next week, I'm going to Mexico to shoot a wedding and at the same time I’m doing a model shoot. I tend to shoot models, food and events for professional organizations among other things. My goal is to shoot more weddings and other jobs globally. I’m also working on doing instructional videos for beginning and intermediate photographers next month on learnmyshot.com.”
RR: “What kind of advice would you give someone who wants to be a photographer?”
NC: “The first thing would be to do an honest appraisal of yourself and ask, ‘How good am I?’ Once you’ve answered that question and decided that you have an enough passion and determination to make it happen, regardless and you starting speaking it like you believe it, the universe starts to shift, like it’s letting you know you’re on the right path.”
RR: “Is there anything else you think is important?”
NC: “When you've been blessed with a talent, it’s a great feeling to be an asset to the others. I think having that desire to use your talent to benefit others plays a big role. Wedding photos are heirlooms, and when you can catch those pictures for people, it’s great. Also, on a practical note, I built my business the old-fashioned way, piece-meal, through savings, not through going into debt. I used to work out of my house. Lastly, above and beyond believing in yourself, it helps to have that faith that God has a plan and that He wants you to be the best you can be.”