In full disclosure; I’ve been stood up more than a few times in my life.

There was of course that time in college where I sat at the bar by myself waiting for the date which never arrived.

Then there was also that time when I was 16 or 17 and I was stood up by the government when a US Navy recruiter failed to make a scheduled appointment he set with me – which confirmed to me that I should not enlist.

My tendency to stood up continued last week when I went to view a property to potentially rent to open up my photo studio in. The place, which if the deal went through, would receive tens of thousands of my dollars coming in over the next few years could not be bothered to have the listing agent or the property manager actually show up to the appointment they set.

Needless to say it does not inspire confidence in going through with the deal. Perhaps their business has survived so well during the down economy that they can afford to not have my business.

Although it seems so obviously simple – the simple act of showing up sets the foundation of trust and professionalism. Compared to so many others that fail to show up – the practice of reliability is actually quite a refreshing change a pace. Ironic how someone doing their job becomes a change of pace.

And, most importantly, people notice. They notice when you show up and show up often. They also notice when you do not show up.

In what feels like another lifetime I worked as a photo editor for a small startup magazine. As part of my job I managed a group of both contract and freelance photographers – assignment out various projects to them each issue of our monthly publication. The most highly sought after and valued projects were the cover shoot and the main editorial spread (which tended to be a fashion shoot). There were also a host of smaller, less paid, editorial features that were not as exciting or glamorous – but offered different opportunities for creativity and the chance for photographers to get their foot in the door with the publication.

At one point I had these two new photographers who both had outstanding portfolios and unreal potential. I had each of them work on a different assignment and the results were extremely favorable.

That is when I noticed a separation between the two.

The one was very vocal about wanting the cover and main fashion spread assignments. So much so that he practically said he would not do anything else. Fairly bold move for a photographer with no resume.

The other photographer also wanted the cover and main fashion spread assignments. However they volunteered to help out on other projects. Then came to the table with editorial ideas for features. They offered to assist on shoots that I personally took on. They contributed more than what was asked for or expected. They developed unique and exciting imagery that we absolutely had to put in print. They showed up, often and consistently.

Not only did they start getting cover assignments and main editorial spreads; but I eventually turned over the photo editor position to them when I departed the magazine. Almost a decade later they are still working in publishing – now an editor of a magazine in California doing exactly what they love.

The first photographer, who made demands, never showed up. They never contributed. They were never available unless it benefited them. They made snide comments when other photographers got features they believed they were entitled to or that they feel they could have done better. Shortly, despite their talent which cannot be denied, we just stopped giving them any assignments. Last I checked they were no longer working as a photographer and I truly hope they found something that they love to do and are very successful doing it.

But the lesson here is in the ability to show up. It will be noticed.

James Patrick
Instagram @jpatrickphoto
Twitter @jpphotography