I learned the lesson from the Rolling Stone's song, "You Can't Always Get What You Want", at the age of eight as I was growing up in a blue-collar neighborhood on the south side of Milwaukee, WI.
Raised Catholic in a large extended Italian family, I attended a Catholic grade school. The actual parish church associated with the school had been outgrown years before as more and more families moved out of the city and into the newly created suburbs. Schools became filled with us "baby boomers," and parishes began sponsoring building funds to accommodate the growth.
One way our church decided to raise money was by holding candy sales. Students were required to sell boxes of chocolates, and the proceeds were donated to the building fund. As an incentive for these sales, prizes were awarded to the top three students who sold the highest number of boxes.
First prize in the contest was a brand new bike. My parents didn't have extra money for things like new bikes, so up until then I always rode a used bike from friends or relatives. I decided I was going to sell more boxes of candy than anyone else and get myself that bike.
I sold candy to my relatives and neighbors. I had my mother drive me to other neighborhoods, and I walked door-to-door with my boxes of candy. I even stood at the busy intersection closest to my house and sold candy as people stopped for the traffic light. When the deadline came to hand in all of our sales, I was certain that I had won.
Later that week, after all the sales were totaled, the students were assembled in the auditorium for the announcement of the winners. The brand new Murray bike was standing in the middle of the raised stage. I was on the edge of my seat waiting to run up and claim it.
The person responsible for managing the candy sale, who was also the mother of another student, stepped up to the podium. I was all set to leave my chair and go up to the front. At that moment she announced the winner of the competition - her son - who just happened to sell one more box of candy than I had. I took second place - a camera outfit.
It wasn't until years later that the Stones recorded their song, and quite a few years after that before I found my vocation as a photographer. Only then did I understand what the lines from the song meant to me...
"You can't always get what you want But if you try sometimes, well you just might find, you get what you need..."
How did you get started in photography?
© Mark Maio