Sunday, Dec 11, 2016
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Opinion

Rolling Stone couldn't say no to determined photographer

Bianca Garza is like one of those critters in a game of Whack-A-Mole. No matter how many times someone bops her on the head and tells her no, she pops up again and again.

Last summer, the Bowling Green State University student from Maumee popped up at Rolling Stone magazine, where she landed a photo internship despite never owning a camera until she entered college.

It's not the fact that she did it that should be instructive to the rest of us; it's the way she did it. After all, there were a lot of things Bianca didn't have when she walked into the magazine's building in midtown Manhattan two summers ago, certain that she was going to leave with the internship.

One of those things was an appointment.

As you might expect, she didn't get past security - two days in a row - even after she waited more than an hour to hear if anyone at the magazine would return her telephone messages left from the lobby.

Some people would have given up at that point. Not Bianca. She was fortified by a piece of paper she encountered every time she went back to her apartment, a goal list that she had no intention of leaving unfinished as her summer stint studying photography in the Big Apple neared its end.

A natural introvert, she consulted books like It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want to Be frequently, gaining strength from the stories of others and a confidence that she could manufacture her own luck.

"I always say to myself: Nobody's going to give you what you want," she said. "That's so not how anything worthwhile works. You just have to keep pushing and pushing and pushing."

When she found out that Les Paul - the electric guitar pioneer who died this summer- played regularly at a popular club, she hung out near the guy who let people in with her portfolio. They got to talking, he sent her in to see the manager, and she walked away with a gig to shoot photos there a few times a week.

When she was at an exhibition featuring the work of Bob Gruen - described by Publisher's Weekly as "the world's best rock and roll photographer" - she noticed Gruen come in and introduced herself. Later, she dropped off some of her work at his studio unannounced and was invited back to hang out with him for a day. Today, she said she'll be in New York for the photographer's birthday party.

The 21-year-old who stands less than 5 feet tall could tell stories like this all day long, and they all seem to interconnect. The manager of the club where Les Paul played knew someone at Rolling Stone and was able to set up a meeting for Bianca after her first attempts failed. Even then, the magazine didn't consider it an official interview. So Bianca, a visual communication technology major, sent e-mails with her newest work every week except one for more than seven months.

That's the kind of persistence you can't ignore, and the editors at Rolling Stone didn't.

Any job seeker content to drop off a resume and quietly wait to hear back should take note. Maybe after spending so much time paying attention to the inspirational stories of others, Bianca's actually become one herself.

Contact Ryan E. Smith at:

ryansmith@theblade.com

or 419-724-6103

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