Saturday, December 27, 2014

The K

I feel bad that Elise had to toot her own horn in the last post. The fact of the matter is, she just beat me to it.

As 2014 draws to a close, and the curtain on 2015 is about to go up, I truly feel that Elise has come into her own as both an artist and businesswoman. She has been working her butt off for the past year, building her brand, her network, and her portfolio, creating a brilliant and inspired body of work.

India is not the hardest place to live in the world, but it's not the easiest either. A lot of people we know don't hack it. India chews them up and spits them out. They spend most of their two years here hiding in their apartments, biding their time. It would have been very easy for Elise to do the same, to point to her commitments as a mother and a wife as an excuse to hide within the four walls of our home, sealed off from the rigors and the beauty of India.

What I am most proud of is that she took India head on. She hit the ground running and never looked back. Anyone who really knows Elise knows that for her there was no other way, still it is a fact worth noting. Elise knows India waaaay better than I do. Though I talk to hundreds of Indians every day in my work, I rarely get out into the streets like she does every weekend and every day. She meanders the city's streets, camera in hand, and sees, hears and smells the real India.

As you read in the last post, I am not the only one recognizing her talent and dedication, and her audience is growing.

The photos that appear in the sidebar of this blog come from a website called, Instagram. It is a place for members to share photos with one another. Elise is best positioned to explain the importance of Instagram in commercial and fine art photography. I think of it as a mouthpiece, every photo she posts to Instagram is seen by not only me, my mom, and a bunch of Elise's friends, but also, possibly, an editor at Conde Nast, a writer at National Geographic, or a New York Times contributor.

A few weeks ago, Elise emailed me excitedly at work (yes, it is possible to write and send an email excitedly!!!). She had just been selected by Instagram as a Suggested User. The website had recognized her body of work as especially worthy of following. Prior to this recognition, Elise had 2,600 "followers", people who subscribed to her Instagram feed and saw her photos every day. After this recognition, she saw her audience soar.

We started to check the number daily. She told me one day that her goal was, "The K."

"The K?"

"When you get to 10,000 followers, you get the K."


Elise is now up to 21.2k.

She basically adds a k every 24 hours. I am mind-blown, amazed, and insanely proud that more than 20,000 people get to look at her work every day. And can't help but wonder who might be in that audience of 20,000. Where will the next big break come from?

Last Saturday night, Elise and I stopped for a drink at the bar in the lobby at the Raintree on St. Mary's Road on our way to the office Christmas party. It had been only a few days since she had become a Suggested User, but I felt like I was in the presence of someone different. There was an aura about her, a sense of confidence that only comes from the external validation of one's work. I can tell her a thousand times that her time and money are not wasted in this pursuit, and while I know my words are important, they do not measure to the words of people who actually know what they are talking about. I would tell Elise she was great even if her photos sucked. Fortunately, they don't, and I am not a liar.

But not only is she more confident, I am somewhat tickled that she still makes time for me, that I am still important. I feel, too, the expectations an audience of 20k people must have, and how Elise must feel trying to meet their expectations, to prove to Instagram and her fans that their recognition of her was not made in error. She now has to live up to the hype. As I never doubted she would be recognized, I certainly do not doubt she will meet and exceed her new audience's expectations.

It is easy to say at the beginning of any year that it is going to be a big year, but I think that is especially true of this coming one. 

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