My Big Fat Hairy Idea 2021
To understand the Big Fat Hairy Idea that slammed into me at the end of 2021, you have to go back to 2005. I was sitting in a cab with my dad in Las Vegas, NV, going between the first conferences I’d ever photographed and the second conference I’d ever photographed. Sitting in that cab, I realized I could work nationally — and compete — if I bundled my travel expenses into a flat rate. THAT big fat hairy idea changed DC Event Photos into US Event Photos. It served as the basis for every part of our business — convention photography, event photography, green screen photo booths, experiential photo marketing. Everything. All would be rooted in one big, fat, hairy idea: our flat rate would cover travel expenses and we would compete across the continental United States with local photographers for our services. Suddenly, Las Vegas became a local market for us, along with Orlando, Chicago, Dallas, Houston — you get the idea. We could compete because, by traveling nationally and developing national clients, our experience landed us work. And, here’s a dirty little travel secret: the more you travel, the cheaper it gets per trip.
It was a big, fat, hairy idea, and I’ll never forget that feeling, sitting in that cab between Mandalay Bay and the Las Vegas Convention Center, of dawning realization. That idea instantly became an obsession; an obsession that remains with me today.
Of course, over the past two years being a national event photographer has been difficult. COVID cancelled all of our events for the first 15 months. Then, just as things started to come back, Delta hit. Even with the Omicron variant lurking like the It clown in the shadows, I remain confident that events will hold for 2022. The Travel and Adventure Show has added new cities to the 2022 tour, conventions are remaining on my schedule, and life is on the brink of normal (with the possible exceptions of face masks becoming a constant wardrobe accessory).
But over the last 19 months, I learned something. I learned I need people constantly in my life. My energy, my passion for life, my drive all come from the daily interactions of the people I meet through travel, work, and photography. Because those very things clamped down during COVID, I needed an outlet. Podcasting and Vlogging became that outlet, first talking to my fellow artists, entrepreneurs and activists in my surrounding neighborhood in the Patterson Park Podcast, and then expanding to the LGBTQIA+ Playlist.
And that’s when the big, fat, hairy idea struck with the same force as in 2005. The LGBTQIA+ Playlist was the ticket. I could use it to create a community — and an audience. A community of other creators talking about LGBTQIA+ issues, travel, culture, art, activism — and an audience of people who wanted to hear from those voices. There’s an old saying among content creators: content is king. Content brings audience. No single person can produce the content a hungry audience expects in order to keep their interest.
But a community of creators can.
Every single podcast or Vlog takes forever to build an audience.
But what if we built the audience first and then rolled out new and fresh content to that audience? Individual vlogs, episodes and podcasts that all came together into a master LGBTQIA+ Playlist. Content I created, content other creators contributed, content sponsored by LGBTQIA+ friendly businesses, news, travel, opinion. Content, content, content, content: all to celebrate LGBTQIA+ perspectives, views, and facets of our lives and community. Other creators would keep their channels, their brands, their audience — but they could expand and tap into another audience. The price? Contributing. Posting. Doing what they are already doing.
Businesses and organizations that want to talk to this newly created LGBTQIA+ audience can leverage the Playlist to produce content to showcase their brand to that audience — and on their own channels they’ve already spent years creating. Individual groups can sponsor single episodes that reflect their outreach efforts to the gay audience. Travel groups can showcase their LGBTQIA+ destinations. Brands would have a direct channel to a loyal audience; creators would have a direct channel to a loyal audience, and the audience would be delivered rich content celebrating my own community on a constant basis.
That’s the big, fat, hairy idea. With that in mind, check out the LGBTQIA+ Playlist Facebook page. Less than one week old, and more than 200 people have followed the page. I’ve already added a specially produced episode for the playlist, “Living Out Loud in Gay Orlando: Welcome to Sam Jose”. In that episode I interviewed Sam and Jose, a gay married couple who operate a travel vlog centered on Orlando, but also travelling to other areas. Their enthusiasm as they talk about their life and their home city brings LGBTQIA+ Orlando alive.
This morning, I added Sam as an editor to the LGBTQIA+ Playlist Facebook page. The building has begun. And it’s my new obsession.