As promised, today I’m beginning my series of posts featuring the highlights of last week’s successful TEDx Waterloo event.
At 22 years of age, Taylor Jones was one of the youngest speakers there. He introduced himself as a recent college graduate with no noteworthy accomplishments or ambitions, sharing the fact that he’d applied to attend last year’s event, but was turned down.
His life changed dramatically last spring when he was sitting in the kitchen looking at some old photos with his family. Upon noticing that he was holding a picture of his brother that had been taken in that same kitchen, from the exact same angle he was facing, he held it up, took a snapshot of it, and posted it on Tumblr with a note that began “Dear Photograph…” People immediately took notice, and he posted another, then another. Before long, other people were doing the same thing and sending him their own “Dear Photograph” stories. Believe me when I tell you that some of those stories brought tears to my eyes!
Less than a year later, Dear Photograph has over 23,000 followers on Twitter and more than 74,000 fans on Facebook, and it’s been featured on major news media throughout the world. CBS named it the #1 website in 2011, and TIME Magazine included it as their #7 pick of the top 50 websites. Who wouldn’t like to get this kind of exposure to their website?
As someone in the business of helping others get noticed online, I am amazed, excited, and inspired by Taylor’s story.
His experience teaches us that success often comes when you’re not even looking for it, and that the key isn’t necessarily about having a presence on the top three social networks (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) or using the latest SEO strategies. Taylor is successful because he had a unique idea that touched people’s hearts and souls and allowed them to express their innermost feelings through images.
But the story doesn’t end there. A hardcover Dear Photograph book will be available shortly, and I have no doubt it’s going to be a huge success as well.