By David Rubin
I grew up in the menswear business — from driving with my dad to market in Dallas to managing the inventory of five locations of Josephs Men’s Store in the 1990s. So when corporate America dictated that my family had to move to Dallas five years ago, a retail career was not to be in the cards. Oh, I tried. I applied to a major retailer and was told that I was not qualified to sell suits (but that is another story for another time). My wife and I also agreed that retail sales hours would not be conducive to family life, since our boys were 6 and 8.
So I worked all kinds of odd jobs around the boys’ schedule – substitute teaching, tutoring, some translation work, and photography. I have always had an eye for photography, all the way back to the film and darkroom days. My degree in Art History gave me a different perspective. (Back in the day, Art History degrees were a ticket to a job at Neiman Marcus – yet another story for another time.)
Learning a new craft in my mid-50s was daunting, especially since digital photography is built for quick, young minds. But I persevered through many shoots and YouTube videos. I made myself indispensable at the kids’ school, pro bono, honing my craft. I now have the contract for school portraiture – all 726 kids. (Did I not already use the word “daunting”?)
Over the last two years, I have had two photography exhibitions in Dallas. Both were moderately successful. However, the retailer in me saw that the things which did not sell as inventory. And I needed to sell that inventory because I needed to finance my next show in Dallas.
My brothers, still running the family business (and very successfully after my departure I might add), mentioned to me that even five years later, customers were still asking about me. Where was I living? What was I doing? How was the family?
Cue the “Twilight Zone” theme. In San Antonio, the month of September is devoted to photography through an organization called FotoSeptiembre, which hosts exhibitions throughout the city. Gallery space is nearly impossible, so other venues are encouraged to participate. Now the story is coming together: customers’ desires, a venue, and inventory.
So I made two trips to our San Antonio store to bring down my “inventory”. I had walls built in the store to hang it. I marketed like crazy on Facebook, through Evite, e-mail and phone calls. I pulled out all the stops, using everything I had learned during my retail days. My brothers even printed a beautiful postcard, hired music, even brought in food and drinks. An event was born.
Before the opening I had the same jitters as I used to have before a trunk show or a sale. There were conflicting events around town (aren’t there always?), but close to 200 people showed up. I sold a bunch of photography. They sold a bunch of clothes. People were introduced to both the store and my photography. It was cross-marketing at its finest.
Meanwhile, I’m on my way to do several shoots. I need more inventory.
To see my work, visit Davidrubinphotography.zenfolio.com