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A big question after that devastating lawsuit was: What now? What does a person do when she’s spent so much time focused on something that takes her away from her true calling?

I tried halfheartedly to revive my photographer representation business; the production side was dead. America was suffering from the aftermath of the devastating attacks in New York, and few people wanted to fly to the United States to work with me.

I relied a lot on my part-time assistant Christin, who was a mountain of patience, and as opinionated as any good German (I’m German myself). Christin herself had survived a share of bumps in the road, and nothing could throw her off. We managed to get by, cruising along for a while, until I could figure out what I would do next and what my next business would look like.

It turns out that one little sliver of my business was still going pretty well. This was the stock syndication segment, which Christin managed for me. Somehow we had had the good fortune to have secured the syndication rights to the images of a world-famous photographer, Tim Street-Porter. Tim is not just one of the world’s best interior photographers: he is one of the most wonderful people I have ever worked with. (Christin later went to work for Tim and still does to this day.)

Here, with stock syndication, I saw the opportunity I needed. I decided to set up a stock syndication business for architectural, interior and living-well images.

This new plan met every requirement on my want-it-all list:

§ It would build on what I had done;

§ I could use my connections and relationships; and

§ it was an equity business, something that would work and generate income while I was not there.

After a long period of transition, racked as I’d en by the ongoing lawsuit and the emotional hangover I’d felt, I began to get excited again. I found support in the form of Jeff Burke, a food photographer who had been in business with his wife, Lorraine. They’d started Foodpix, a stock syndication that set the stage for specialty niche image collections. When we met and discussed that I wanted to do with interiors and architectural images what he had done with food images, he said that if he could do it with food, I could do it with interiors. He gave me a list of things I needed to learn and do, and which organizations to join. Jeff became my mentor and was a sharing and unflinching colleague who wanted to see me succeed.

This time, I was smarter and protected my ideas and business better. Everything was in writing, and I had contracts and employment agreements and handbooks. My operation was airtight, and I ran it like I meant it. I had a real business with a sensational product that customers loved – the collection took off like wildfire. We added more photographers, staff to scan the images, to keyword, to input the data, and bought software to manage it. I traveled all across the globe connecting and setting up distribution agreements.

I had only one rather big problem – I had no money. This time I saw it coming and I knew it was going to be a mad race to reach the breakeven point before the payments on my borrowed money caught up with me.

Little did I know that the biggest test of faith was yet to come.

Have you ever been without money, trying to make ends meet, hoping for some miracle, and yet finding the strength to go on despite all odds? Tell me about your experiences — I’d love to hear from you. Write me here – we’re in this together.

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