Lane Weinberg runs his own photography company called Thisleftlane Imagery which he started in 2008. With his photography business, he does a lot of portraits, weddings, and high school graduations. He does not specialize in any kind of photography, but really loves nature and landscape.
Lane also works for Nike as a technical services specialist. It is a fulltime job, but he prefers to think of it as his side gig since his photography business is his main passion. His ultimate goal is to run his own photography studio and gallery at some point.
He graduated with an Associate’s degree in Fine Arts from Mt. Hood Community College. He then went on to the University of Portland with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts with a focus on Photography. During his college days, he worked as a stagehand for theater productions.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
Once a year my father, uncle, cousin and I would go hunting. I was not into hunting, so I would just hang around and took pictures. This was decades ago, and it was an old school camera. I took pictures of random stuff, like animals, trees, and that is when I really just fell in love. I was out there for hours with nothing to do and I picked up a camera.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
After work at Nike I will go hiking and hunting for interesting things to photograph. Since everything is digital now, then I will spend some time using PhotoShop and Adobe.
How do you bring ideas to life?
In some cultures, like Africa and in Latin America, they think taking your picture is stealing your soul. I don’t think you are stealing a soul, but when you take a picture you capture the essence of something. I think it is a magical thing to be able to capture a moment in time that is never going to happen again.
Thirty years from now when you are looking at a picture, you’re literally looking into the past that no one else is able to see until they see that picture.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Photography is very social media driven now. People are looking for that glam shot.
Whether it’s nature, out in the woods, or if it’s a mural on a wall or just people walking around, there was a book that came out a while ago called, Humans of New York, and it was literally just random snapshots of people living their lives in New York, and it was a New York Times bestseller.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I get bored easily, so I always need to be doing something. I can’t just sit around doing nothing. If I have a moment, I’ll get back to work on a project or I’ll be editing photos. At lunch, I am able to go wander the street, grab lunch, and be able to take pictures of the random world. I am one of those people that likes taking pictures of garbage, a wall, food, or anything that piques my interest or that I think is interesting.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Start earlier and keep going. Everyone struggles. Everyone has problems. You just have to keep at it. When I was an undergrad, I had a friend who is a master violinist. She had quit because she had done it for so many years that she got bored. She said if you truly love something, you will always go back to it. Now she is still a master violinist and plays the violin all over the place. That always stuck with me. I always try to keep going, and that is what I would tell my younger self. You may struggle but keep pushing ahead.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I hate those stupid glam shots for social media, but I do make a lot of money for shoots to post on Instagram or Snapchat. I personally can’t stand those. I like pictures of nature, random things, and the chaos of the world. But models, glam shots, and all those Hollywood pictures do bring in money.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Always keep learning. Whenever I stop in a bookstore, I’ll always buy books on photography or running a business because you can always learn more, even if they’re just introductory books. I still take online webinars and classes. My grandfather said you can always learn more. The fool thinks he knows everything. The wise man knows he does not know everything. I try to keep that in mind.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Meeting people has helped me grow my business. I am an introvert but if someone invites me somewhere, I try to always say yes and always try to go. You never know who you’re going to meet. You never know who those people are going to know. Networking is very important no matter what profession you are in. Everything is sales. That’s what life is, selling yourself, selling your business, selling your skills. I think that is the nature of it.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
In my first year of running Thisleftlane Imagery, maybe the first two years, I overextended myself too much. There is the saying that you have to spend money to make money. I know 80% of small businesses fail in their first five years, and it can take five years to turn a profit. I think I went in too quickly and spend too much money. I ended up focusing basically on growing without getting the sales and the revenue. It took some time catch up. I started networking more and always trying to go when people invited me places. I started going to galleries and museums and always had business cards with me.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I would like to see a business that takes people out in nature to spend a week in an intensive photography course. There are tourists traps where they take you around and take pictures, but this would be a really intense week to go off into the woods, camp out, and learn how to take photographs in a hands-on way. You get thrown into the fire.
When I was a kid, I went to an art camp for a week, and that’s exactly what it was. They just said, paint. They came and helped. I actually came up with two things that I really, really liked and that are probably still somewhere in my house.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
It was the money I spent on business cards. I’m always redesigning business cards. People always ask me if I have them and I always do. There is nothing worse than being somewhere, someone wants to work with you, and you don’t have a professional business card to give.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Quickbooks helps me a lot because I am horrible at keeping track of everything. Quickbooks and Turbotax have really kept me focused on my business but I am still able to go out and pursue my passion.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I recommend On Becoming An Artist by Ellen Langer. The book says we’re not born with any innate artistic creativity. It’s a skill you have to work on and practice at. It’s a small book, but it was really enlightening and full of great information. It was inspiring, and I think everyone should have a copy.
What is your favorite quote?
“Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful.” Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley in Frankenstein.
Don’t be afraid to go after your dreams. Since I am an introvert, I can’t be afraid to pursue a network and go to galleries and go out there and get into the thick of the world.
• Pursue your dream even though you are working fulltime.
• Your fulltime job can be your side gig while your side gig is actually your fulltime job.
• Always have your business cards to give out.
• Stay active and keep going even though life may get hard. Keep pushing through.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.