It was 2003 and I was going to New York for my first round of meetings with Art Buyers and Photo Editors. My girlfriend's (now wife's) mom lived in Manhattan, and generously offered to write a letter to her friend Lee Friedlander, to ask if he could help me out.

His reply (in writing above) is awesome for two reasons. One, that he used the same letter to write his response, by scratching the word "Dear" next to Margaret's name. And two, that he flat out said no:

"At age 65 I decided to retire from everything but work. So I don't do any side things, which I was never good at anyhow. Wish him the best of luck. Best to you, Lee"

I keep this letter pinned to the wall as a reminder that it's necessary to stay focused on what you're passionate about, and that it's ok to say no.

When I hit 65 I hope to retire from everything but work as well.

Thank you, Mr. Friedlander.

Related Posts