August 21, 2020
In August of 2005 I needed a change. I was 18 years old and wanted a fresh start, a new life. That’s when I decided to enlist in the Navy. It promised structure, adventure, and most importantly a change of scenery.
Eventually, I achieved ranking as a Naval Aircrewman, Helicopter Search and Rescue Swimmer Crew Chief where I operated aircraft systems to support the bold search and rescue missions. It took two years of advanced training, undergoing rigorous weeks of learning swimming/lifesaving techniques, Naval Aviation at a technical school, survival skills, and learning Aircraft systems at a Naval Air Station. During my 5 years enlisted in the Navy I learned a lot about myself and the world around me. The skills and experience helped to better prepare me to own my own business.
Here are 7 lessons that stand out the most:
1. Always Assess The Risks
In the Navy there’s little room for error. When it is life or death, sink or swim, there are countless decisions to be made. In the middle of chaos the mind runs amuck but as Crew Chief it was up to me to make the call. That’s where I learned to assess each risk and make the tough decisions.
Giving up job security provided by a company to start my own business felt like jumping into action all over again, except this time I was the one swimming to survive. I needed to access my own situation. Was I prepared financially and emotionally? Was the risk of failure overrun by my desire to succeed? I knew it’d be worth the risk.
2. Two is One And One is None
As I mentioned above, in the Navy a mistake can cost you your life (or worse, someone else’s). So everything has to be double checked and secured before it’s ready to go.
The two is one, one is none asserts a backup for every situation in life. For Murphy Studio I have two of everything in the event something goes wrong. Two sets of backup footage, multiple cameras and lenses, and hiring an additional person to be safe.
3. Think Outside the Box
While the Navy teaches tactical, technical, and survival skills the most important skill actually learned on the job is the experience itself. Applicable knowledge outweighs knowledge itself, because without being hands on it’s all useless. After training kicks in it’s all about the moment, and that’s where thinking outside the box comes into play.
Despite the list of suggestions and Pinterest boards, clients don’t always know what they want. So, it’s up to me to make the final call for them. What looks great over the internet may not work well for clients. Rather than scrap an idea entirely I think up ways to make an image unique that couples. Just like the Navy, it’s all preplanned and prepared but in the middle of a session it’s all about the experience.
4. Attention to Detail
The motto I had to constantly follow was “attention to details saves lives.” In the Navy overlooking a single factor, such as a blip on the radar map, unsecured equipment, or fuel levels can cost you a mission. It’s the smallest details of a situation that make up its success.
When it comes to photography, there are endless angles, lighting, and ways to do something correctly. While it may not be sink or swim, these images are lifetime keepsakes and there’s typically only one chance to get it right.
5. Overtime Matters
Part of being Crew Chief of Search and Rescue missions meant that at any given time I had to be ready to suit up and head to the helicopter. It’s definitely not a 9-to-5 job, and that’s what made it so exciting. I established a solid work ethic and carried it over to Murphy Studio.
When it comes to my own business, I never have a problem working overtime. Nor is there ever an issue with waking up early, if that’s what the couples plan is. I’m here to service my clients, camera ready, whenever they need.
6. Two is One And One is None
As part of The United States Armed Forces, the Navy teaches community above all. The only way to succeed is to unite as one and take care of each other.
I carry that ethos over into my business. Clients and I work together to achieve the best possible results.
7. Do Right Even When Nobody is Looking
I learned a special honor code while enlisted in the Navy. I performed to the best of my ability not only for my comrades but for myself. I continued sharpening my skillsets, kept my head clear, and aimed to be better every day knowing it would help all those around me.
I want my clients to have that same confidence in my ability to perform on their shoots. That’s why I maintain the same integrity in my business, constantly doing the right thing even when nobody is looking. If a client isn’t happy neither am I.