What You Can Get with an Ask

Sometimes you just have to ask. You might get what you’re asking for.

I was recently in Urbana Illinois and I thought to look up online if there were any photography exhibits happening locally. I got the first result: Urbana Museum of Photography. Wait, what? There’s a museum of photography right in this town?

Wow, this will be interesting I thought. Only to find out that I was looking on a Tuesday morning and they didn’t open until Wednesday afternoon, after I’d be long gone from the town. What to do?

I clicked the first link, the Facebook URL and messaged them: “Hi, I’m a photographer passing through Urbana today, Tuesday. If there’s any way anyone will over there, I’d love to stop by. Headed to D.C. tomorrow. Thanks. KennethWajdaPhotographer.com”

Within a minute I received this text back: “Let me know when you’re gonna stop by and I will meet you up there.

Nice! Now we’re talking. I set a time, he said fine. I went up and met the museum owner and was able to get in on a Tuesday.

Because I asked. Because while there are rules, there is also the human factor. We can reach out to each other and see if there’s a way when there seems to be no way.

And because he said yes! (If he had said no or hadn’t responded, you wouldn’t be hearing about it, there’s no story to tell.)

Originally founded as the Champaign County Herald in 1877, this building was home to the local newspaper until 1979. From 1979-2017, the darkroom was locked up and not in use. In 2017, UMoP founder Lyosha Svinarski unlocked the darkroom and brought it back to life.

Urbana Museum of Photography web site

This is Lyosha. And the museum. What a wonderful visit we had. He hand-printed photographs from the newspaper’s archived negatives to create the current exhibition, including JFK’s visit to Urbana on a campaign stop.

Then, as I was leaving, Lyosha pointed to two wooden cameras in the corner and asked if I wanted a project camera. Never one to say no, I walked out with a 5×7 folding camera that just needs a lens and some TLC.

All for asking.

It’s amazing what you can get when you ask. So, ask!

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