I live in a little beach town on Cape Cod, and almost everyone I know here works in the tourism industry. Some work at restaurants, some sell t-shirts, and others work out on the water on charter boats that take people out for a few hours to sail, go fishing, or take a sightseeing tour.
When I was a kid in this same town, we found all sorts of ways to earn money from the tourists—selling seashells, diving for coins at the pier, even using our bikes as taxis. Business is all about supply and demand. Somebody needs or wants something (the demand), and, if others can supply it, they can charge a fee for it. Sometimes the “it” is a thing, such as a t-shirt or a hotdog, and other times the “it” is a service, such as a taxi ride or providing entertainment.
We have a special kind of sightseeing tour here, where the “sights” are the whales that come to feed just off the coast of Cape Cod in the summer. Whale watching is a big business here. Almost everyone brings a camera and takes lots of pictures, but part of the thrill of seeing whales is watching them as they swim, feed, and even leap all the way out of the water. The best way to share that is with video, and that’s what I do for a business—I am a whale watch videographer. When people go on a whale watch trip, I shoot a video of their experience, and the passengers can get a DVD of the whales they saw.
I started my business with a friend who knew all about videography; she taught me how to shoot video and we started the business together. We made a lot of mistakes in the beginning, but enough people wanted our videos (the demand) that we kept doing it (the supply).
We now film trips on several whale watch boats on Cape Cod, and I hire other people to work on these boats each summer. I look for three things in a person when I hire them: they have to be responsible (because they have to work hard and handle money), they have to be easy to get along with (because they work with customers and the crew on the boats), and they have to be able to learn videography. I can teach almost anybody good video skills, but I can’t teach people to be responsible or be easy to get along with if that isn’t the kind of person they are already. These two qualities can bring you many opportunities in life, regardless of what you decide to do.
As a whale watch videographer, I get to work outdoors—on boats and with whales. Sometimes I feel lucky, but luck had little to do with it; I made this happen by taking a chance with a good idea, partnering with the right person, and working really hard. I am fortunate to be among the dwindling number of people in my town who still get to work on the water. Years ago, lots of people in my town worked on the water, fishing and—a long time ago—whaling. Today, I go to sea with the great-grandchildren of the men who once hunted the great whales. When we find whales, however, we shoot them with video cameras instead of harpoon guns.
Did You Know?
The Age of Sail was said to be the domain of “wooden ships and iron men,” but sailing ships also had boys on their official crew lists.
Today, you have to be 14 years old before you can get a job in most states in the US, but in the Age of Sail both merchant ships and navy vessels signed on boys as young as seven years old as regular members of the crew.
What were these kids doing on board sailing ships?