You don't know you've had your "big break" until it's already happened.
That's what our guest Andy Austin tells us in this episode of Success Defined. He got his start in photography rather anonymously. A photo he took of the Montana State University Bobcat Stadium blew up on social media. But since he was a football player for the school, he couldn't promote his own business with his name attached.
"There was an opportunity for an epic sunset, so I said, 'oh man, where is my camera?" Andy told us. He didn't really think much of it at the time. But once it was posted, the photo went viral, and nobody knew who took it.
"I loved it. It was great. It was a catalyst for my career. But my passion was nature and the outdoors," he said. "I had to figure out a way to flip that around and get people to understand that I do more than just stadium photos."
Once he graduated from Montana State in December 2013, life flipped upside down quickly. He was finally able to claim his notorious stadium photo and asked himself, "What am I going to do with my life?" He decided "I'm just going to say yes to every weird opportunity that comes my way."
This mindset took him to places like Northern Nicaragua, Southern Africa, Northern Norway, and Patagonia, to name a few. He traveled and shot his surroundings for nine months and finally decided to get a "real job" because of his financial status. "I went from being broke at the start of the year to really broke by the end of that year." Though he had a phenomenal time, he needed to pay the bills and got a desk job doing tourism promotion for Southeastern Montana.
Working from the media manager side, Andy learned what people who actually need photos are looking for. A coworker asked him to show a National Geographic photographer, Keith Lasinsky, around the Billings, Montana area, which he happily agreed to. Andy showed him his "secret spot" Big Horn Canyon with no expectations in return.
A few months later Keith approached him to be part of a National Geographic shoot in Glacier National Park for 10 days. He quit his other job, packed up and began a new phase of his career.
Andy's spontaneity and drive have led him in great directions career-wise. But when it comes down to the basis of his philosophy, creating lasting relationships rules supreme.
Listen to the full episode to learn more about Andy's journey and how a gold-sequined tuxedo landed him his biggest client.