We had the good fortune of connecting with Bobby Florio and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Bobby, can you share a quote or affirmation with us?
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” – Mark Twain
My personal takeaway from this quote isn’t even necessarily about travel, it’s about experience and trying new things. I love this quote because it motivates me to get out in the world and interact with the human experience and grow in every way I possibly can.
When I was just thinking about starting my own photography business, I wasn’t sure where to start. I loved taking photos and I had a lot of positive feedback from friends and family but I doubted myself until I just decided to go for it and leave my fear of failure behind. After a couple years of really hustling and trying to generate business I found myself in the unexpected but great position as a small business owner of having to turn down jobs so I didn’t over book myself.
One of the great things about the process of hustling, failing, learning, and getting better has been the jobs I never thought I would have access to, and the very diverse group of people I have been able to interact with along the way. Something I have learned as a photographer is that getting to know someone and learning about who they are is just as important as taking that crisp shot so the memory can be captured.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Everyone has something that sets them apart from the crowd. We just have to be willing to expose it, those haters, be damned. I started off in the military when I was 18 and still serve in the National Guard after almost 21 years. That gave me the confidence and discipline to go to college, eventually earning my master’s degree, which was something I never really thought was possible. After college, I started teaching high school in the areas of special education and second language acquisition. I am still a teacher and love that career but I would have felt like a complete hypocrite telling kids to do something they loved and follow your passion if I wasn’t willing to do more of that myself. Taking the leap to starting my business was not easy. Learning the technical aspects of photography is available to pretty much anyone today, but once you start accumulating equipment and spending time in the field with a purpose, the time and money can add up. I had reached a point where I really had to decide if this was going to be more than just a hobby. Once that was decided the hustle was in full blown go mode. With no real mentor or person I could lean on for advice, I had to fail forward continually. Overcoming this was difficult but I was able to survive by having a solid business plan and budget, constantly improving my photography skills, and most importantly being personable and social. If I have learned one thing in this arena it’s that people want you to communicate. It doesn’t matter if I am selling wildlife/fine art photos, they want to hear the story behind the shot, and when I am doing portraits or sporting events people want some direction and support.
As far as my brand I don’t really have a message for everyone, I just want people to know that no matter what I am shooting I am going to show up happy, I want you to be happy as well. I really think that a smile is the best medicine, if I can make one person smile every day then I am doing what I was put on this earth to do.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If I had a friend visiting from out of town I would take them on a hike up Mt. Morrison behind Red Rocks amphitheater during a concert. It’s a great place to be away from the crowd, in nature, but also right in the middle of the action. It’s a great spot, so if you go clean up after yourself! One of my favorite places to eat is Lariat Lodge, and my favorite brewery is Blue Spruce so we would have to go to each of those places to enjoy the food and drinks. Obviously we would have to make our rounds through Downtown Denver and check out all of the Denver staples like the convention center and local art on Santa Fe.
Outside of these things I would be showing them some of my favorite hikes and places to get away like Waterton Canyon to see the sheep, and Roxborough Park to see the incredible red rock formations.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My family and friends definitely deserve a considerable amount of the credit for where I am with my photography business. Most people don’t want to take time off from work to get photos taken, many of the events that I shoot are on weekends and late hours, and when I am doing landscape and wildlife photos, I spend long hours waiting and searching for the shots I am looking for. All of these things result in time away from my family and friends. Luckily, I am surrounded by friends/family who believe in me and an extremely supportive wife.
Of course, I have been motivated by other photographers whose work I have a lot of respect for. People like Howie Stern and Paul Nelson who embody the sense of adventure and kindness to others that I think we should all strive for. Also, people like Michael McCoy who I have that veteran connection with and who isn’t afraid to tell a powerful story that people may or may not like. All of these people, even though we have never met, have had a huge impact on me and have helped me in ways I cannot say thank you enough for.
All images are shot by me, Bobby Florio!