It has been said a million times before that a picture is worth a thousand words. Honestly, a thousand words is a hell of a lot to say about a picture, but that’s my opinion. I’m often asked why did I choose photography as a career or why do I like this medium compared to the extensive list of other art forms? Frankly, it chose me and I’m glad it did. I love the science and the creative aspects of graphing photos, but equally it was the most organic endeavor I could embark on that would satisfy my interest in art and business. See way before I knew photography would grab ahold of my every waking thought, I knew one day I would own my own business, and everything I’ve ever experienced or learned would transcend me into entrepreneurship. And I’ll keep it 100; I’ve always wanted to work for myself because I always thought that was (and is) what you was suppose to do. I just assumed the purpose of education, knowledge, and skill building was to turn that into a business to attain the life you wanted to live.
I remember being 8 years old and school just had ended for the summer. Both my parents worked the day shift from 7am-4pm and my sister, who was my designated sitter, was in college and working full time. So my dad asked me did I want to make some money this summer and of course I was like “oh yeah.” At that moment I began daydreaming about how much candy, football and basketball cards, and comic books I could buy. So he asked a friend of his did he need any extra hands and the next day I was at Mr. Washington’s front door ready to get paid! Mr. Washington and my dad spoke for a brief minute as I hopped out the truck. He gave me $2 for lunch, told me to behave and he would pick me up after work. Mr. Washington welcomed me in and the first thing he said to me was, “can you handle getting dirty?” In my head I’m like, “Man I’m 8! I specialize in dirt,” but I respectfully replied “Yes Sir.” From there he walked me through his living room, the kitchen, and to the back door. I stood there, visualizing the oasis of fun that was behind this solid wooden frame and tattered screen door. It opened and there it was; at least 6 acres of peach trees perfectly aligned in rows that seemed to have stretched for a thousand miles. Once I stepped off the porch, there was no turning back. Seriously, there was no turning back because he locked the door behind him and the thunderous roar of my dad’s Dodge RAM was fading in the distance behind the dust of a red clay dirt road.
That day seemed like an eternity, but all of my hardwork and effort landed me a payday of $4.35. I know, I know, $4.35? Yes, $4.35! Four machine washed one dollar bills, three shiny dimes and a dirty ass nickel! I told Mr. Washington thank you as I put the money in my velcro fastened wallet and we went into the house. As I sat in the kitchen eating the thickest bologna sandwich ever made, Mr. Washington handed me a tall Hardee’s cup filled with ice and a jug of water from his fridge. I sat there smacking away watching Darkwing Duck waiting to hear the glorious thunder of my dad’s truck race down the dirt road. When my dad arrived, I turned off the TV and told Mr. Washington, “See ya later.” He nodded in agreement from his sofa and extended his hand so I’d give him a high five. I shook his hand and closed the door behind me.
As I hopped onto the seat of the truck and began knocking the dirt from the peach field from my shoes, my dad ask me if I wanted to drive. Since I was accustomed to sitting on his lap and wheeling 2 tons of metal and muscle on open back roads of Trenton, SC, I jumped at the opportunity to chauffeur my dad back to civilization. However, this time was different. As I scooted over to the drivers seat, my dad slid under me to the passenger side. I looked at him with a concerned eyebrow raise to make certain he was aware that I was only 8 years old. I mean, I’m barely 4 feet tall and I’m sure he just saw me get a running start just to leap into cab of the truck. But my sentiment only warranted a “go ahead Asa, you got it.” So he slid the bench seat forward and I put the truck in drive. He began asking about my day and how much money I made. With one hand on the steering wheel and the other wrangling my money out of back pocket, I proudly handed him my wallet and said “$4.35.” He wrestled open the wallet and like any father that’s building the confidence of their son, he said “That’s what I’m talking bout.” He congratulated me on my accomplishment and ask me if I wanted to go back some other time and work with Mr. Washington. I emphatically said yes, but my enthusiasm seemed to surprise him into laughter and prompted him to question my motive, considering picking peaches in the hot summer sun was a daunting task especially for an 8 year old. I said “Because! I made $4.35 and I never even picked peaches before, so next time I know I can make $10.” Impressed with my logic and determination, he wanted to know what I was going to do with all that money. I told him, “I’m going to take what I made today and the $10 I’m going to make tomorrow and buy two peach trees to plant it in the backyard. I asked Mr. Washington how much does a peachtree cost and he said starter trees are only $8, so after tomorrow I can go buy two.” My dad seemed beyond impressed. He was proud of my decision not to waste my money on penny candy and upper deck trading cards. However, he looked puzzled by my math and told me I wouldn’t have enough to get two starter plants just yet. He suggested I’d only have $14.35. That’s when I reminded him of the $2 he gave me for lunch that I never spent.