When we launched Positive Business DC, Donna, Shannon and I wanted to create a resource to help people raise their level of well-being by providing evidence-based research in positive psychology and neuroleadership. And so, we launched the Well-being in The Workplace speaker series. Last week, I featured Natural Artistry in my weekly column for Modern DC Business magazine. As Meetup members Andrew Murdock, Kimba Green, and Cindy Alderton shared their story, I realized that our Meetups are having a much more profound impact than perhaps we realized.
Andrew is the owner of Natural Artistry Photography in Frederick, MD. His style strays from the conventional by focusing in on moments when people connect on a fundamentally human level. The vulnerability he’s able to capture and the stories his photos tell reach out and grab your attention. He took photos of the October event and generously let us post them. (Personally, I think the camera is super-glued to his hand and he’d have withdrawal symptoms if removed.)
Scratching The Creative Itch for A Purpose
Doug Hensch, our guest speaker at the October Meetup, shared the 5-1/2 Secrets of Resilient Entrepreneurs. One of Andrew’s takeaways: The desire to find deeper fulfillment in work. After thinking about what that meant to him personally, he decided to give back to the community. Not being handy with a hammer or power tools, Andrew picked up the camera and offered professional quality images of local events. The idea was to provide an alternative to the photos people took with their Smartphones.
This one, seemingly small thing embedded the people from Natural Artistry into the community in a deeper, more meaningful level and business started to skyrocket.
Big, Hairy, and Audacious
No, not Andrew… but the goals for Natural Artistry. At our second Meetup in January, Caroline Adams Miller shared insights about how setting unrealistic goal relates to happiness and the über success that comes from setting one’s sights really, really high. Andrew brought their marketing guru, Kimba that night. Now, barely more than two months later, the big hairy goal for 2014—becoming a photo agency—is already happening. Cindy Alderton, an exceptional photographer in her own right, has recently joined the team. Natural Artistry plans to continue bringing photographers that share their zest for “anti-business business photography” and quirky sense of humor into the agency. They’re also about to move into a studio with equipment that will enable Natural Artistry to take any shot one can dream up.
Research shows that people who seek fulfillment at work or set unrealistic goals vastly improve their levels of professional success.
So, what about this year’s goal? It’s still in the works. Andrew wants his photos to be published in a national magazine. He’s turned the studio’s business model upside down. Rather than waiting for orders to come in or offering the same services similar to other photographers or studios, Natural Artistry likes to propose ideas that will help clients grow their businesses. In their words, “It becomes a symbiotic relationship, really a partnership of sorts. We share the same business goals, personal beliefs, and values and build upon them by discovering common goals.”
Fulfillment + Goals = Growing, Vibrant Business
Offering a service to the community proved to also be a good business practice because it provided unexpected exposure for Natural Artistry’s work. Andrew found the fulfillment he sought by providing community service. While community service may seem like a counterintuitive way to grow a business, positive returns are not an uncommon phenomenon when you do something constructive—and without strings—for others.
To begin, the studios’s goal was simple: Ensure that everyone in Frederick, MD see the Natural Artistry logo at least once a week, whether the shot was of a friend or familiar place. Shooting photos without charging for them gave the photographers full artistic license.
“Other photographers (and businesses) box themselves in. They look at what other people are doing and think that they need to do the same thing. They might be making money at it, but do they really get fulfillment from doing the same thing others are doing? Copying the work of someone else is not rewarding,” notes Andrew. “The people at Natural Artistry have a restless desire to grow. What we’re doing today is not what we’re going to be doing tomorrow. We’re a moving target, so any other photographer who tries to emulate and copy us is in for a shock.” Their attitude, combined with all of the local exposure, had captured the attention of ad agencies and local publications, positioning a small town photo studio into an agency that has the potential to work with national magazines.
If attending the Positive Business DC Meetup has helped you improve your level of well-being, we’d love to hear your story! Please seek Donna, Shannon, or me out at during the networking session at Canvas on April 24. Registration open soon.