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EPISODE #018

#18 Leaving High School Early and Becoming a Nationally Recognized Photographer with Howie Schatzberg

Howie Schatzberg joins the Sherpas cave this week as we discuss his journey to becoming an award winning and nationally recognized photographer. Howie’s father took him out of high school early to start his photography career within the family business. We also discuss the importance of marketing, innovating and keeping customer relationships.

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Key Takeaways:

1. Diversify and innovate your business: Focus on what is providing your customers the most value. Find areas that you can expand to and try new things! You never know where they will lead you.

2. Customer relationships are invaluable. Oftentimes it’s easy to overlook personal connections with your customers. The smallest of things can mean so much to customers and keep them coming back time and time again.

3. Marketing: Sometimes we think of marketing as a chore and major business expense and oftentimes it is. Find inexpensive and creative ways to market your products or skills. In this Episode with Howie Schatzberg, he talks about the #HowieShotMe hashtag customers use on social media when sharing a photograph he captured. This was a simple idea that turned into a great marketing tool.

4. Preparation: It is important to be prepared in business. Of course, we can’t plan for everything or anticipate every potential situation., But we should ask ourselves if we are taking the necessary steps to ensure we are prepared for mistakes we could encounter. In this Episode, Howie shares an experience where he had an accident as he was photographing the Olympic closing ceremonies when his camera lens cracked and he lost out on the perfect shot.

 

Transcription:

From his first job flipping burgers at McDonald’s and delivering The Washington Post, Craig Willett counts only one and a half years of his adult life working for someone else. Welcome to The Biz Sherpa podcast with your host, Craig Willett. Founder of several multimillion-dollar businesses and trusted advisor to other business owners, he’s giving back to help business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs achieve fulfillment, enhance their lives, and create enduring wealth. The Biz Sherpa.  

Craig Willett: 

This is Craig Willett, The Biz Sherpa. Glad you could join me today at the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show. I have with me a special guest, one of the greatest photographers in the United States for equestrian shows, Howie Schatzberg. He’s very accomplished. You’ll get to know him very well. He does about 25 shows a year, among which are the World’s Championship for the Saddlebreds, the National Championships for the Arabian horses, and the World Championship for the Morgan horses. He’ll tell you more about how he accomplished that. I’m grateful to welcome Howie Schatzberg. Welcome, Howie. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

Thank you. Thank you. Nice to be here. 

Craig Willett: 

I’m glad you took the time. I know you’re really busy. I think you’ve already shot 50 horses, and the horse show doesn’t even start for three more days. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

Yeah, it’s crazy. All these people coming in, and sale horses, and you got to take care of your clients. So yeah, it’s been busy already. And this is a huge horse show. Actually the biggest Arabian show in the world, they say now. Over 2,000 horses, so it’s quite a deal.

Craig Willett: 

Well, that’s great. This is how, partly, we became part of showing horses too, in our family, because of the Scottsdale Arabian show. My wife always—she had an Arabian growing up, but then she, when we moved here, wanted to come to the show and really got back into it after we started a family. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

It’s quite a deal. It’s funny, this show goes back to when I was young, living here in Scottsdale, this was the big deal. My father did the show at Paradise Park back in the day. And it’s always been quite a deal here. In fact, they say that this show probably brings in more money than the Phoenix Open Golf Tournament because of how many people come here. So what it brings to the city of Scottsdale, economically, is incredible.

 

Craig Willett: 

Yeah. When you consider the hotels, the restaurants and all the other 

Howie Schatzberg: 

Right. 

Craig Willett: 

Plus all the people that come to the show. This year might be a little different. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

Little different, although they say, I think, each horse could bring four to six people. So you talk 2,000 horses. That’s a bunch of people, not even counting the public. So I think we’ll be okay this year. 

Craig Willett: 

That’s good. Well, you’ll probably be okay too because you’re here for the horses. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

Yes, I hate to say that. 

Craig Willett: 

And their owners. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

Yeah. It’s all about that. All about that. 

Craig Willett: 

Well, I’m curious, where did you develop a passion for photography? I mean, clearly you have it, to be recognized asI think in the horse world, you’re recognized as People’s Choice photographer. So you’re fairly accomplished. How did you start this path of journey? 

Howie Schatzberg: 

I don’t know. There’s a saying, “Do you pick the sport, or does the sport pick you?” So I think the sport picked me. Obviously, I—well, not obviously, but I started with my father at a young age, about 12 or 13 years old, in the film days. He took photos, I’d go in the trailer. He was the first one in the United States to have a portable dark room. 

Craig Willett: 

Really? 

Howie Schatzberg: 

Yeah. So we’d go to the horse shows and I’d be in the trailer in the dark room doing black and white, doing color film. 

Craig Willett:

So you developed the film. And then would you then print it too? 

Howie Schatzberg: 

Correct. We develop the film, we make tiny, little proof sheets. People would come to our booth with magnifying glasses and so on. My mother was selling the pictures. It was a family operation. So that’s where I started at a young age. I worked for them in the summer and doing shows predominantly in the West coast. So that’s where I started. 

Craig Willett: 

I’m just curious then. You start this out, but not every photograph is great, I would imagine. So for each photograph, how many make the really final cut? 

Howie Schatzberg: 

Well, I never miss a shot. It’s funny you say that. My father was a typical, tough, old school, greatest-generation guy, and no BS. You’re the first one to work and the last one to leave. And I learned at a young age, you succeed by a great work ethic. So people say, “Well, how did your dad influence you? How did he teach you?” I don’t know if he really taught me, but literally, when you say the percentage of photos we need to be good, he would hold that strip of film up and I’d be next to him. He’d point. He’d go, “Good, good, good.” But he would use an expletive. And then, “Bad, bad. Good.” He’d say, “This is not acceptable. You have to hit every shot or you’re not going to succeed in this business.” 

Craig Willett: 

Oh, wow. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

And I think, again, because of the man he was, I think I was a little bit scared. I think he knew what he was doing. It’s just how I was raised. 

Craig Willett: 

So he’s telling you, “Don’t let the proof sheet rule it out.” He’s telling you, “Go ahead, and every one has to be the best you can.” 

Howie Schatzberg: 

Exactly right. And whatever angle you need to do, you make it work. You work hard and you give these people what they want. 

Craig Willett: 

Wow. So what was the upbringing like? I mean, did he allow you time to try other things or school, or anything else? 

Howie Schatzberg: 

Not at all. Actually, I took a photography course in high school. I’m sorry. Yeah. My freshman year. I think I probably developed more film than the teacher had. So I said, “This is not going to work.” So yeah, again, the old school way, if you just go work, you work hard and you’ll learn the business through that. He was a very innovative guy, so I learned a lot about diversifying and trying different things. He was great at that. 

Craig Willett: 

Did you continue to work up till where he retired or did you branch off on your own at some point? 

Howie Schatzberg: 

At that time, there were so many horse shows and I would work with him. I’d be the second photographer. Say at a two-ring horse show, I’d shoot the second ring. And as I got older, he would maybe have me shoot the main ring. That’s how it got started. And then it got to be more horse shows, so he said, “Hey, Howie, why don’t you to go do this show and I’ll do this show?” I started branching out with that. Funny story, it was the toughest phone call I’d ever gotten. I worked for him, and it was Schatzberg Photo. And we had done the World Championship Morgan Horse Show, which was obviously a huge feather in my cap or my father’s. My dad was, again, a tough customer. I love my father, but I’m blessed I’m more like my mother. Very easy going. But a few years after him doing the show, I got a phone call. They said, “Hey, we’d like you to do the horse show.” I said, “Great. I’ll do the show with my dad.” 

Craig Willett: 

Bring my dad. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

That’s what I thought. No. I think my dad, in any business, probably said the wrong thing to the wrong person. And they wanted me to do the horse show. I said, “So you’re going to contact my father?” “No, we’d like you to.” 

Craig Willett: 

Whoa. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

I think they were scared to talk to my father. 

Craig Willett: 

Not only did they want to hire you, but you had to fire your dad. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

It was brutal. Anyways, I said, “Dad, I have something to tell you.” I told him the situation. He said, “Well, I knew this day was coming. I knew this would happen. I’m proud of you. I’m happy for you.” So a little emotional, I lost my dad a couple of years ago. He just passed, but he was 98. Great life. 

Craig Willett: 

Wow. 

Howie Schatzberg:

But yeah, it was—that was a big deal.

Craig Willett: 

So that started your independence. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

That started my deal. Yeah. And he was giving me a kick in the ass and said, “You’ll do great.” 

Craig Willett: 

That’s so nice. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

I still helped him here and there. My father and I were very close. He would call me at 9:45 at night, almost knowing I was leaving the arena. He just knew because he’d been doing it for so long. He knew the times and what was happening, and so forth. So we have a great relationship and I’m in this because of him, but I do love what I do. 

Craig Willett: 

Well, clearly. Somebody recognized your talents and so did your dad. I think one of the great things, and we’ll probably talk about this before the end, but it’s to see the next generation do and accomplish something. So there was probably a lot of pride too, in your dad, that you were the one that they asked. I mean, think about if the call went to someone else and missed the Schatzberg family altogether. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

I think so. I think he was very proud of me. Again, he was an old school guy. He didn’t say it a lot, but I knew he was very proud. My sister showed horses. I’m the youngest of five, and my sister showed horses. That’s how he got involved. He took photos of them. People saw the photographs and they said, “Hey, can you take one of my daughter?” And he said, “Sure. Hey, this is a heck of a deal.” 

Craig Willett: 

Sounds like Becky DeRegnaucourt. She did the same thing. She would get her clients’ outfits, and then her customers wanted 

Howie Schatzberg: 

There you go. 

Craig Willett: 

Other people would see them, “Hey, can you get me that?” 

Howie Schatzberg: 

I think that’s how this type of thing starts. 

Craig Willett:

Wow. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

It is a family operation. My nephew, Casey McBride, is a photographer, great photographer. Does the Mini Horse Nationals. 

Craig Willett: 

Oh, wow. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

So I’m hoping my daughterI have two daughters and a son. The older kids don’t like it at all, but I have a feeling my younger daughter’s sort of into it. 

Craig Willett: 

Yeah. Well, she’s into showing and we’re going to talk about that too. She’s accomplished, very accomplished at a young age. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

Yeah. Sure, she is, at a very young age. It’s scary. 

Craig Willett: 

Yeah. Well, that’s going to lead to the passion continuing. I’m sure you’re excited for her. Now your dad probably had a lot of influence on your education and getting you into the business. Isn’t there some story where he took you out of school before you could graduate? 

Howie Schatzberg: 

Yeah. Basically, again, I worked with him quite a bit in the summers and I did miss some school helping him during school year. So again, being who he was, he beat to his own drummer. And he literallyI’ll never forget it, I got called to the principal’s office. I was a nice, Jewish boy. I mean, what would I do wrong? 

Craig Willett: 

Right. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

So my father’s in the principal’s office, and “Howie, come have a seat.” My dad’s there. I had no idea what was going on. My dad proceeds to talk to the principal and says, “This is what I do. I don’t know if my son’s ever told you.” And I’d never talked to the principal. He didn’t know. He said, “Well, I really feel that my son will have a chance at an incredible life in the business that we do. He’s a talented young man. He’s smart. He’s a real people person, and I’m going to take him out of school.” 

Craig Willett: 

So this was as much a shock to you as it was the principal?

 

Howie Schatzberg: 

I was speechless. I was second semester as a junior. 

Craig Willett: 

Well, most kids dream to have their parents excuse them for school, for the rest of their high school career. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

I was dumbfounded. I didn’t know whether to be happy orI didn’t know. He gave the spiel to the principal and principal said, “Mr. Schatzberg.” Again, my dad was a fairly intimidating guy. He said, “You’re his father and good luck.” And that was it. I left school at the end of that semester and took my GED. That’s as far as I went, as far as schooling, 

Craig Willett: 

Did you worry about your future? 

Howie Schatzberg: 

I don’t think at that age. I’m 62 now. I didn’t think about it. I didn’t think of it in those terms. I really didn’t know. I had confidence in my father because he was a very confident guy. So he gave me that feeling that everything was going to be fine. 

Craig Willett: 

Right. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

And it was. 

Craig Willett: 

That’s pretty cool though, that your dad would do that. So then you just continued to learn the trade of the business. How many years did it take till you got to Morgan Nationals? When was that in your career that you had to go tell your dad? 

Howie Schatzberg: 

My first year of the Morgan Grand National was 1985, on my own. It went from Schatzberg Photo on a photograph, to Howard Schatzberg. But I had done other shows in the Midwest before that, Saddlebred shows and things like that, and Morgan shows. But my big break was obviously at the Morgan World Championship, which is the highest level of that breed. 

Craig Willett: 

Right. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

So that was 1985.

 

Craig Willett: 

A lot of people would say, you need to have a niche market. Some could say equestrian is a niche market and some people could say a certain breed because horses do different things, sometimes act a little differently and show differently in the different breeds. So you’ve done Morgans, Saddlebreds and Arabians, and you do them all at the same time. So you’re a photographer to all those breeds. How do you do it? And why do you stay with more than one breed? 

Howie Schatzberg: 

Well, I think, again, my father really told me to diversify, especially in business. And when I started, there were open horse shows, which meant a horse show would encompass five or six different breeds. So I had to learn how to shoot every different breed. And like people or landscape, you have to get to know that breed. Arabians are shorter-backed, so the angles are different. Saddlebreds are longer-necked, their angles are different. A Western horse, a driving horse, everything’s different. So it really made me open my eyes and just look at the whole picture, no pun intended. 

Craig Willett: 

Right. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

It helped me a lot just doing different breeds. And I don’t know, I, again, use the word passion. I love what I do, and it’s a crazy life. 

Craig Willett: 

Right. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

I’m sometimes gone for eight or nine weeks at a time. I love the horses, but I think I’m a people person. 

Craig Willett: 

Yeah. I was going to say, at some point, how do you balance that and how do you market yourself? 

Howie Schatzberg: 

Well, it’s funny. When I started, marketing, I don’t think, was necessary. Again, it’s a niche market. It’s a small group. As you know, being in the horse industry, they need to know you and be comfortable with you. And I think because I had done so many horse shows, they felt comfortable with me because this is their passion. Not only mine, but this is theirs. They love their animals as much as their children. So they need to know that it’s someone they can trust. 

Craig Willett: 

Yeah, I’ve seen that. 

Howie Schatzberg:

Oh, yeah. So they need to trust that person and know that person’s in this with them. I feel like I am. I definitely am. I’ve been there and seen these kids from walk-trot kids to, now these people have grandchildren. It’s a family deal. You get to know them really well. 

Craig Willett: 

I was going to ask you that because I’ve seen you at some of the shows, and you’re walking down the lineup while they’re waiting to announce the winners. You seem to be able to have a conversation with most every rider. So how do you remember all these people and develop these relationships? 

Howie Schatzberg: 

Again, I think because you’ve seen them from the beginning to the end, as far as the trainers. I go to farms, I’ll see a trainer working, bring a yearling out and just handling them. And then that yearling is now a two-year-old. And all of a sudden, he’s a three-year-old and he’s showing in the ring. And I just go up to the trainer and say, “Hey, is this the mare that I saw three years ago, that you were working? I remember her.” “Yes, this is her.” And I go, “Boy, she looks incredible.” And then with people, I see a mother that I took pictures of as a ten-year-old walk-trot rider and now she has a child in the ring. I’ll go up to the kid and say, “Hey, I took pictures of your mother.” And she said, “Oh, yeah, she told me.” 

Craig Willett: 

Oh, wow. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

So I don’t know if I always remember their name, but I know the story behind it, which is really great to me. 

Craig Willett: 

Well, I think it means a lot to the people that you’d even recognize them and their horse, their children. And when you say you’re a people person, and I think that brings out the passion, right? A lot of people say, “Oh, I’m a people person,” but there’s a human aspect to all business. That interaction really has to bring some satisfaction to you. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

I agree. It really does. 

Craig Willett: 

Otherwise, why be on the road for nine weeks at a time? 

Howie Schatzberg: 

It’s a crazy life. People say, “What’s your greatest picture?” I don’t know if I have one. Again, I like the photos that tell a story. 

Craig Willett: 

Well, I have the greatest picture. It’s with me, with my horse. 

Howie Schatzberg:

At the World Championship? 

Craig Willett: 

Yeah. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

I thought so. I know that you’d say that. To me, it’s more the experience. I take a photo that means something. Again, a story that’s been told. Not necessarily a great picture that I caught this incredible motion, it’s the story behind it. In this arena, actually, a great friend of mine’s daughter had cystic fibrosis and she helped her father in the ring. She was dying, and her fatherthey raised the horse, they trained the horse together. He showed the horse in this ring and they won the class. She hopped in the buggy and rode out of the ring. She waved her arms like this because everyone was screaming and yelling. 

Craig Willett: 

Oh, wow. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

That’s one of my favorite pictures of all time, just this person. The young girl passed away two months later. 

Craig Willett: 

Oh, no. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

Again, she was a gift from God. An amazing young girl. But those are the types of things I love and I like to catch. Obviously, when you catch a picture like this, you want to get the best picture of the horse. Obviously, that can sell a horse. And it means a lot to the rider and exhibitor, butit sounds morbid, but my favorite—when people call me and they say, “Hey, my horse passed and your picture is my favorite,” that means a lot to me. Not the picture that’s going to sell this horse for $200,000, but to know I made someone—the photo they got is the vision they had of their animal that they loved. So that’s what hits me the hardest. 

Craig Willett: 

I love that. That’s one of the principles that I try to teach over and over again on this podcast and in business is, there’s an emotional currency to business. It doesn’t matter what someone paid for a photograph or how many you sold, but when someone calls you up and thanks you for capturing a moment or something they love, the rewardyou probably go to bed at night going, “Hey, I’ve served my purpose. I’ve done well.” 

Howie Schatzberg: 

I completely agree with you. And in this day and age too, with young people, with business, it’s the digital age, even with photography. But getting a simple note in the mail means more than anything, or a phone call, or when you go to someone in the lineup and you say, “Hey, you did great. Look how far you’ve come.” Just like being a president of a company, and going up, putting your hand on someone’s shoulder and saying, “Great job. Really proud of you. Thank you.” It goes a long way. It’s giant. 

Craig Willett: 

I think that’s important because you do it, because you care about the people. You’re not sitting there saying, “I hope I sell them a photograph.” 

Howie Schatzberg: 

It doesn’t hurt, but no, no, it has nothing to do with it. 

Craig Willett: 

Right, because people sense the sincerity of that emotional connection. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

I hope so. Again, I love what I do and I 

Craig Willett: 

No, I can tell you, because I’ve watched you for years and years. I’m more of an observer than a participant in this industry. It’s my wife’s passion, and I compete because she asked me to give it a shot. I’ve enjoyed it and it’s been great, but I’ve watched her and supported her for probably 12 years before I got in the ring behind the lines of a horse. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

You’re a competitor. I could see that in your eyes. 

Craig Willett: 

Well, I do like to compete. I understand that, and I do appreciate her passion. But I’ve watched you in the show ring, and I think it’s that connection. That’s part of why I invited you today, because I also think you know how to market. I love this “Howie Shot Me!” I see it everywhere. So it’s really a nice tagline, a nice promo. How did you come up with it? 

Howie Schatzberg: 

Again, I just wanted to get into something different. Again, I think that when social media came aroundyou hear the word brandingand, again, this is a small market, but I just wanted to branch out and do a little more. So I just came up with it, and just with the camera lens, and so on and so forth. Yeah, I just wanted to reach out and have a catchy phrase. So pretty much that was it. 

Craig Willett: 

That’s great. You’ve also had more innovation too. For instance, this kind of photograph, for those who aren’t in the horse industry, you don’t get that standing inside an arena. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

Correct. Correct. 

Craig Willett: 

There’s no way to get that kind of angle and that kind of shot. So I think you’re the innovator of having someone stand outside the ring and take photographs during competition. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

I think I was. This is the angle I would take, obviously ground level, which old-school people say, “That’s the shot.” Making a horse look bigger and stronger and all that. What happened was I had seen some amateurs or friends take some photos years ago, and they were just taking pictures of their kids and things like that. I saw that and I go, “Wow, I think this could work.” So actually 

Craig Willett: 

Because you spent your whole time in the show ring, shooting out toward the audience, not necessarily from the audience toward the show ring. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

Correct. And again, these type of shots. A friend of mine, Shane Shiflet, an accomplished photographer. And I said, “Hey Shane, could you work for me this week?” He said, “Yeah, why do you need me? I’m two people in the ring.” I said, “No, I want to try something different.” So I got him in the stands and we said, “Let’s try this.” And it was fantastic. A whole different look. It’s a clean look. It’s a more intimate look. It’s almost like what the spectator sees. 

 

So the view was from the spectator, so that gave people multiple views. Again, diversifying your business, giving people several looks. At a show like this, I may have two or three photographers shooting. I’ll have a guy shooting a head on picture, another guy shooting this one coming in, and then I’ll be in the ring. So you cover every angle. And thanks to the digital age, you can shoot hundreds in a class. As you know, looking at our kiosk, I may have 400 photos in a class. So you’re going to sell a picture. 

Craig Willett:

Yeah. Or two or three, especially getting the other angles. I like the one from the ground because it makes my horse look big and strong. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

Correct. 

Craig Willett: 

But I also like the intimate look where it’s maybe over my shoulder, what I see behind the ring, standing along the rail, outside. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

Right. Right. 

Craig Willett: 

Looking in, it gives a different—when I sold my World’s Champion horse and I really love him, but one of my favorite shots isI’ll pull it up once in a whilejust over my shoulder, I can see his head and I can see me. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

Wow. 

Craig Willett: 

And I can see the interaction that we have because I know it. It’s what I see. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

Right. It’s why wedding photographers use several different photographers at a wedding. You just want different looks and different feels. It’s worked out well for me, I’m pretty proud of it. 

Craig Willett: 

Well, that’s pretty cool because you do have a passion for it, even to invite potentially your competitor to do it. And not that you can trademark that angle, but it’s really neat to add to the perspective. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

Right. No, it’s great. My dad was big on sharing information with other people. I loved it. Anyone who comes up to me, I’m an open book. Whatever I need to do to help them out. It’s all good. 

Craig Willett: 

I remember the first time I got near a horse. My wife introduced me to her horse in her backyard when we were dating. And she said, “Get on him.” I think I had a pair of tennis shoes on. I jumped on him and he headed straight for the fence. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

And you married her.

 

Craig Willett: 

I did. I did, and I probably should’ve thought twice about that. But actually, the interesting thing about that experience is it scared me a little bit. I think about you in the show ring, how do you handle the rush of 20 to 30 horses in the show ring moving around you, trying to watch, they’re reversing, they’re coming different directions sometimes. How do you keep your composure to still get the winninglike your dad said, the best photo every time? 

Howie Schatzberg: 

You’re in a zone like any work mode. You’re focusing on what you need to do. Again, no pun intended. So you’re just trying to do your job to the best ability. There’s a lot going on in the ring when you have 15 or 20 horses. So you really have to have your head on a swivel. You have to know what’s going on. You don’t want to be in the way of a judge or a ringmaster. And you’re wanting to be conscious of the angles you want to get and the horse you want to shoot. 

 

A lot of times the three or fours are coming at you, and you want to focus in on one of them. And then all of a sudden, you’ll look to your right, and there’s one coming out from this angle. So you’ll need to do that one, or a client may want you to get more pictures of that horse. So they request more. So you really have to 

Craig Willett: 

Oh, really? 

Howie Schatzberg: 

Oh, yeah. 

Craig Willett: 

So you don’t pick your favorites in there? 

Howie Schatzberg: 

I don’t. It’s funny you say that. Again, my father just speaks to me all the time. If a great horse is coming at me and then another horse is coming at me that probably won’t win, I always focus on that horse because the great ones, you’re always going to get a picture of that horse. But try to get the other horse or the other person that may not necessarily have the World Champion or spent $100,000 on their horse. They may have more love for their horse. The other horse may be more of a marketing tool. I don’t know if that’s proper terminology to use, but—so get those other horses and the great ones will come to you. Anyone can get a great picture of a great horse. 

Craig Willett: 

Right. If they win, then you’re going to get the championship photo anyway. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

Correct. Correct. 

Craig Willett:

But I like that. I like that you’re for the underdog. I think that that’s really cool. So your dad taught you to focus on that? 

Howie Schatzberg: 

He did. Again, he said, “Anyone can get a great picture of a great horse or anyone could take a great photo of a beautifulwhether it’s a model or a car, or a beautiful landscape. But concentrate on the horses that may not have that opportunity ever again, and they’re going to be a better market for you.” 

Craig Willett: 

I remember that. I was starting out in this competing, and it was my second year of competing. I had a good horse, but I borrowed it from my son who was gone on a mission for our church at the time. And he did really well. He ended up winning the National Open Championship for the Arabians. But I remember I showed him at Scottsdale and I didn’t win. It was in the Open class and I didn’t win. But during the week, your partner, who was shooting with you that week, posted on his personal Facebook page, a picture of me with that horse several times. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

That’s great. 

Craig Willett: 

And I said to my wifeshe kept showing it to me, I didn’t follow it. She said, “I think he likes the look of your horse, and I think he’s trying to tell people, ‘Hey, you missed the really good one.’” Of course, I thought I’d done really well, but 

Howie Schatzberg: 

Well, funny you say that. I agree with what you’re saying and I do. I mean, I love a good horse. I likeagain, you show a lot of passion when you drive. You’re so focused and I love that about it. So I do try to do that. I don’t know about the underdog, but just show people and their horse connected, and show a lot of passion for that. And I like to get that out on social media. 

Craig Willett: 

I love that. I love your story of passion because I mean, who else lets their dad take them out of high school? Of course, everyone’s not going to fight their dad. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

“Please?” Yeah. 

Craig Willett: 

But then not even worry about it and just go into it. What a heart-stopping moment, an honor, on the one hand to be asked to do the Morgan Grand Nationals, and at the same time, you had to break the news to your dad that they asked you and not him. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

Yeah, it was tough. It was tough. But again, I think he knew.

 

Craig Willett: 

Business can be hard, but I’m so glad your dad supported you in that. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

Oh, very much so. Just to the end. 

Craig Willett: 

I think you’ve shared with me what your greatest satisfaction is in business, but I really can’t let people on the podcast without asking what their greatest failure is. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

Wow. Well 

Craig Willett: 

And what did they learn from it? 

Howie Schatzberg: 

I can tell you my greatest failure, but I’ll start by saying, I am so tough on myself. I’ll come outside the ring and talk to my wife. And I say, “Man, I just didn’t feel good today. I’m just not catching it.” I’ll look at this photo and say, “I could’ve taken this a hair later, it would’ve been better. If my angle would’ve been more from the front.” So I’m really hard on myself. Easily, my greatest failure. I was blessed enough, a young woman named Elizabeth Goth and Michelle McFarland, they did the closing ceremonies in 1996, in Nagano at the Olympics. And they asked me to go shoot it for them. In fact, it was during this horse show. 

Craig Willett: 

Oh, really? 

Howie Schatzberg: 

Yes. So I talked to the show committee, they were fantastic. And they said, “Yeah, it’s a once in a lifetime.” So went to Japan. It was incredible. I’m sorry, they were the closing ceremonies and they brought a six-horse hitch there, which is basically—the closing ceremony shows the transformation from the Olympics, from Japan to the West. So they used a coach of spotted Saddlebreds. It was a gorgeous picture. So I go there, I’m solid, take pictures of horses, no problem. I have my camera, and closing ceremonies, hundreds of people in a huge stadium. I have my camera and it’s dark, fireworks, lights. If you’ve ever seen, they use carts to push the cameramen around when they’re doing work. Well, basically I take lots of photos about a third of the way in, and this guy with NBC basically clips me. I fall down, my camera goes sprawling down and I’m looking at my camera on the ground, broken lens. 

Craig Willett: 

Oh, no. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

And that was it. So my failure was not being prepared. You see these guys at these events with four or five cameras on them. 

Craig Willett: 

Right. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

I’ve never done that. 

Craig Willett: 

I wonder why they do that. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

That’s why. When it’s an elephant, you’re going to get stomped on. I don’t know, but I wasn’t prepared. Luckily, I ran over to another guy I had met there, and about 20 minutes later, he gave me another lens. I put it on, but I missed “The Shot.” I had this shot planned. It was going to be “The Shot.” I got some shots and they were okay, but I wasn’t prepared. And I’m telling you what, from that day on, whether it’s getting ready to shoot a horse, getting ready for a set-up, drives my wife crazy. I won’t miss a thing. So preparation, whether it’s getting ready to start your business or running your business, or actually doing the job, just be prepared. Never enough time. You can’t prepare enough. 

Craig Willett: 

I think that’s a great lesson because you never know what you’re going to encounter. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

True. 

Craig Willett: 

So you have to start thinking about all the different possibilities. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

Right. 

Craig Willett: 

That’s pretty cool. Now I also wonder, if you’re gone for nine weeks on the road, how do you continue to market and sell your photographs? I mean, I know you show them at the show, but I think a lot of people are so busy at shows. They get home and then they start looking back, and decide what they want. How do you continue to stay in front of your customers? 

Howie Schatzberg: 

Well, I think it’s the old saying, “There’s no I in team.” You know what I mean? I have a great team. My wife’s incredible. I have 

Craig Willett: 

Megan does do a good job. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

She’s amazing. 

Craig Willett: 

When I’ve asked her about which photograph, she’ll say, “Wait till Howie comes back, he’ll tell you which one’s the better.” So you have the eye, but she knows what to do. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

This is true. I just have a lot of good help. But again, I’ve been doing this so long. I like to have everythingI’m a predictable person, so I just know when you go from this town, we have to have these pictures out, contact this publication, know where you’re going to be set up. So I guess to answer that question, just have a plan that way. 

Craig Willett: 

Yeah, that’s great. Now the other thing that you have a passionI’ve noticed that you have a daughter, Jacqueline, that has a passion. She’s getting recognized as 10 and under, she’s quite accomplished in several different breeds. What is the future for the Schatzberg family? 

Howie Schatzberg: 

That’s a great question. I want to get her to start taking photos and she actually does. 

Craig Willett: 

Really? 

Howie Schatzberg: 

She has a good eye already. I don’t know if it 

Craig Willett: 

So this is innate? You can’t teach this, can you? 

Howie Schatzberg: 

Is it? Is it a God-given thing? Is it an innate thing? I don’t know what it is, but she has a ton of passion. She already knows breeding of horses, she knows so many, and she has a great eye for photography. But I think maybe because being raised in the industry, again, it’s almost like Take Your Kid to Work Day every day, for her. 

Craig Willett: 

Isn’t she lucky? 

Howie Schatzberg: 

I don’t know if it’s luck or not, but she’ll help me set up. She critiques my photos. 

Craig Willett: 

Wow. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

Oh, yeah. Big time. She got that from her mother, I think. She has a lot of passion for it, I think because when you live it and you see the passion these people have for showing their horses, and hopefully she sees it from me, that you have to love what you do and work hard at it. So I think she gets that from us, but my wife is an accomplished horsewoman. She managed a big farm in New England. She was a great rider in her own right. But yeah, our daughter’s done some amazing things this year. We never planned it. Again, because the horse community is such a giving community, she was able to ride. We leased a couple horses. I found out she’s the only walk-trot rider in history to ever win World Championships in three weeks. 

Craig Willett: 

That’s an accomplishment 

Howie Schatzberg: 

Very much. And that’s again work ethic for her. She works hard. She goes to the barn every day. She does it at home. She’ll wake up in the morning

Craig Willett: 

Right, but nobody wants to work that much unless they have a passion for it. We all know that. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

I think you’re right. She does love it. She’ll go out and clean the horses’ stalls, and she checks on them.

Craig Willett: 

I think you asked the question at the beginning of our episode, “Do you pick the sport or does the sport pick you?” And we could change that to business, “Do you pick the business or does the business pick you?” 

Howie Schatzberg: 

Right. 

Craig Willett:

I believe that we have God-given talents and I think it’s behooven to us as part of the human family to figure out what those are. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

I agree. 

Craig Willett: 

And then share those talents with others to make their lives better. It’s got to be fulfilling, I’m sure, to you, like your dadmaybe this changes your perspective a little bit. Your dad saw the passion in you and gave you the opportunity. You see the passion in your daughter and now you’re giving her the opportunity, so it’s going generation to generation. I think that’s pretty amazing. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

Thank you. Yeah. I’m really proud of it. And again, people say, “When are you going to retire?” I say, “I’m not.” When I can’t bend over in the ring anymore, but I love what I do. 

Craig Willett: 

But then you can sit on the side. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

I’ll sit in the stands. Yeah. I mean, I love seeing the stories of these people and how hard these people work. That’s why I think I want to get the best picture for them, and they can show their kids or show their relatives, whoever that may be. So it’s definitely a full circle deal with my family and these people. Again, it’s a family deal. 

Craig Willett: 

Right. And I think it’s interesting because your work lives on forever, right? I mean, a picture speaks a thousand words and if it captures a moment in someone’s life, that means something to them, that passion is going to portray to everyone they show that photograph to. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

You hope so. I mean, I 

Craig Willett: 

No, I know so. I’ve experienced it because people ask, “What do you do?” When I tell them I compete with horses. You try to explain it, but if they’re not familiar with it, I just show them a photo or a video clip. But the photos I show, they’re looking at it, blowing it up to make sure I’m the one that’s driving. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

Yeah. That’s you? 

Craig Willett: 

That’s you? That’s really you.

 

Howie Schatzberg: 

There’s no doubt. 

Craig Willett: 

But it really captures a moment in time, a moment of bonding with the horse, with the human, and the passion that’s there. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

Right. It’s history. It’s funny, I was reading a magazine the other day, and I feel like I’m young still, but I was looking at these photos in the archival photos of “back in the day.” And there’s my name on them, and it’s 40 years ago. I’m going, “Wow, how did this happen?” But you’re right. When you start using photos to document history, I’m super proud of that, that I was able to be a part of that. So I guess that’s the passion and you got to have some longevity to do anything. 

Craig Willett: 

Right. Right. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

And stick with it. 

Craig Willett: 

I think that’s where the passion comes in, because that produces the longevity. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

Right. 

Craig Willett: 

Otherwise, it’s just a job and everybody gets—we all get tired of a job. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

Oh, boy. Yeah. We do. We do. 

Craig Willett: 

Get up and do the same thing over and over again. Well, great. Howie, I appreciate you taking the time. 

Howie Schatzberg: 

Thank you. 

Craig Willett: 

This has been a great insight into somebody I have a lot of admiration for, who has a lot of talent, a lot of ability and I think relates well with a lot of different people. I think that shows and it brings you great success. 

Howie Schatzberg:

Thank you. I appreciate you having me. 

Craig Willett: 

Great. Thanks for being here today. This is Craig Willett, The Biz Sherpa. Thanks for joining us today. I’m grateful that Howie Schatzberg would agree to spend some time out of his busy weekor two weekshere at the Scottsdale Show, to share his insights. And I hope that you find him as inspirational as I do. Thanks for joining us. 

Speaker 1: 

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