At 50 years old, I told friends I was “off to join the circus.” I’d undergone training and got certified to become an International Tour Manager. Now I get paid to escort and teach small groups of people on luxury tours in Europe.
The company I work for books as many as 16 guests or as few as two, and I become their “Captain” for each tour. I work with hotels, “step on, step off” guides, and other vendors as we explore some of the rich cultures around Europe.
Having a positive attitude helps when taking guests out of their routines and comfort zones to visit and embrace the beauty in other countries.
My imagination helps, too. I can channel Eliza Doolittle in London… or, as we step onto an outlook in Tuscany, I’ll tell my group to imagine we’re stepping into a beautiful painting.
I believe there are two outlooks on life: “rainbow lookers” or “dirt lookers.” The dirt is there, and I’ll deal with it… but, I’m always looking out for the next rainbow.
Recently, Great Escape Publishing has been facilitating a lot of my rainbow chasing. I joined their community last Spring when I attended the 2017 Ultimate Photography Workshop in San Diego.
At the time, I had no idea there was a community standing by, offering help for new photographers like me. And in the year following the workshop, this community has been invaluable for information and inspiration.
The group members nudged and encouraged me when I’ve been stumped for a direction, and they helped to explain the next steps. It’s amazing how much they share. They recognize that there’s room for all of us and are not concerned I’m going to take a job away from somebody else.
This past year, I’ve sold photos as fine art. I’ve printed some in black and white—on canvas and watercolor paper—then painted them, giving the photos I love a more human touch. After exhibiting at an art show, I sold a few. Now I plan to do more, and I’m printing up some digitally-painted shots to sell.
At Christmastime, I printed some of my best Chicago shots onto ceramic ornaments and sold them as beautifully-wrapped corporate gifts in groups of 20. I collect ornaments when I travel, so it’s fun to create something I’d buy myself.
Now I’m also learning to write—again with the help of Great Escape Publishing—to add a new dimension to my travel.
Since becoming a travel writer, I’ve used my ITWPA membership badge—which marked me out as a VIP—to interview vendors at the Travel and Adventure Show and to get the best spot for a Chinese New Year Parade.
Albert Einstein once said:
“There are only two ways to live your life: One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
I’m choosing the latter. This positive outlook, combined with the right training and a supportive community of fellow photographers, has really opened a lot of doors for me.
I get to make my own path with the help of others. How great is that?