We had the good fortune of connecting with Ian Shive and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ian, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
My initial reason for starting my own business was to fill a need I believe existed in the marketplace. At time there weren’t many, and still aren’t, a lot of small, independent photo agencies that represent private libraries of photographers, especially with an emphasis on the environment, like we do. Being both photographer/creative -centric as well as cutting-edge in our approach to technology immediately set us apart. I believe the best businesses are those that find and own a niche. It doesn’t need to be a massive marketplace, either. You could specialize in even the most narrow, niche and even obscure specialty, but if you become known as the person who is the best at that, then you are on the right track to success. This was something I had not really seen done in photography, so I did it myself. I also really needed the room to grow as a person and entrepreneur that I wasn’t able to find working for other companies, even though they were great companies I worked for. The ability to make mistakes and take risks is a vital part of the process of growing as a business owner and as a person, and starting your own business is the proving ground for that.
What should our readers know about your business?
Owning and running a business is never easy. 2020 has proven that especially true for so many of us. I believe our success first begins internally. Over the last decade we’ve kept our footprint small, growing only as opportunities and finances permitted us to grow. This created a structurally sound foundation for our business that when tested, like in in the great recession and in 2020, we’ve able to pull through and count on that foundation to hold us up. That means not overspending, not over hiring, and taking calculated risks and investments that lead to growth but also don’t put the whole company on a single roll of the dice. All companies face challenges non-stop, at some times they cruise along better than others, but overcoming the challenges means being prepared. We built and carried financial savings so we could take hits along the way, this helps overcome downturns in the economy. Other challenges have been related to human resources, when is the right time to add people, and who? For a small company the hiring process could make or break you, so I believe we’ve overcome that by slow, methodical growth but also mindful of the workload of our employees. The thing I’ve learned is that there is no one, single way to do anything, let alone lead and run a business. It’s a serpentine path that you embark upon and hope that the good decisions you make ultimately outweigh the mistakes. I’m proud of what we’ve built. Our company may not be on the Fortune 500 list, but it’s financially sound and diversified and most importantly, especially to me, is that our reputation is golden. We’re respected by our partners, colleagues and clients for our ethical and moral approach to doing business. I’m proud that we don’t chase the quick buck, but build a business that’s in it for the long haul and do so with respect to those we engage with.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’m a big fan of the Farmer’s Market at The Grove. The outdoor seating and cafes are some of the most European places for delicious food and a glass of wine. There’s plenty of vendors to explore and it takes advantage of LA’s incredible weather. This is my go-to spot to this day. Monsieur Marcel is my favorite, but if I’m shopping to cook at home, I’m a big fan of Marconda’s and the fresh produce markets. These days hanging out means hanging out at home, but when things become safe again, I love the Museum of Natural History for day trips, or drives up to Malibu, stopping at the country mart for a sandwich, and sitting on the cliffs above El Matador Beach for the sunset.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’ve always believed that we are not successful on our own, but that our success is the sum of all our parts. Those parts are family, friends, co-workers, mentors and so many other people, whether they even know it or not. Through the years I’ve had almost the same set of folks on my team at Tandem, including Ian Maliniak, Erika Nortemann, Kendall Alexander and Dante Fernandes. Without them the company would be nothing, as well as the 300+ photographers who have believed in us for the last decade. We’ve also had incredible partnerships with Insight Editions and their CEO and Publisher Raoul Goff, who is both a friend, mentor and someone who inspires me daily. There are also many other organizations we’ve worked alongside, including the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, Discovery Channel and hundreds of magazine editors and photo editors who we rely on. THANK YOU to everyone!
Copyright 2020 Tandem Stills Motion, Inc.