What's amazed me is the enthusiasm and appreciation he has for life. The first year he met my wife Sheila at Skip's Summer School a thank you note arrived just a few days later, thanking her for the support to all the projects I work on. And it's that quality of appreciation and caring about this industry that's made him so legendary in such a short period of time.
I heard Levi speak for the first time at an Unconference for TAP (Technically Advanced Publishing) last January. It's the best line yet for explaining how everyone should behave with each other,
"Act as if your grandmother is always watching!"
Levi, couldn't come from more humble beginnings as a professional photographer...he knew virtually nothing, but had the passion and pulled together one of the strongest Smugs in the country...manages a photography club he started of his own with over 600 members and is President of SCU's advisory board, the Student Council.
He's a prime example of somebody who's simply a sponge when it comes to education and is constantly studying with some of the finest instructors in professional photography today. Skip Cohen
We ended up having a great time, and I learned volumes (for instance, don't clamp your speedlight to a dumpster and then leave it there when you switch locations...)
Still, I didn't get any bookings, so I thought it was kind of a flop. Until a few months later when Beth called and said I had asked to photograph her daughters at the market, and could I come and do a portrait of them before Christmas? I said, "Yes, please!"
Shortly after my session for Beth, I started traveling all over the country for my job. My first trip was to Alaska, and I saw the guy sitting next to me on the plane had great light shining in his eyes from the window, so I asked if I could photograph him.
Later, I was just finishing up my work, and the guy who owned the place had good light in his face from the window behind me, so I asked if I could make a portrait. The next day, I was done with the job, and the sun was still up (Alaska in the summer!) so I climbed a mountain nearby and met a father and son on the trail who were camped in a beautiful spot, so I asked if I could make a picture.
Before leaving town, I drove outside Anchorage down Turn Again Arm and was shooting a waterfall in bad light when the high school's cross country ski team came riding into the parking lot on bicycles, so I asked if I could make a picture. And they all said, "Yes!"
I was on the flight home from that trip and my seat mate told me about his time in the Vietnam War, and about how he was recruited from college by the state department and was promised he would not be sent to the war, and about how he was not only sent to the front but was there for five years instead of the shorter term army recruits were sent for and about the terrible things he witnessed and the secrecy and the awfulness of war, and he was thoughtful and the light was great in his face and I'll never forget speaking with him. But, I was kinda tired, so I didn't ask if I could make a picture. That's one of my few regrets.
With the exception of those times when I was sounding creepy, people have almost never turned me down for a portrait, including people I've run into around the world from Seoul to Riyadh.
Just ask, and always ask. It'll change your life.