Ohio native Ray Woods aspires to leave his footprint by launching a Florida “Flipbook” that he hopes will break a Guinness World Record. Rodrick “The Tampanian” Colbert interviews Ray to discover what motivates this St. Pete photographer and transplant.
Colbert: What can you tell us about yourself?
Woods: I’m 30 years old. I grew up in Cleveland, OH. I attended Hawken High School and Miami University (OH) for college. I have a B.S. in Accountancy and Persuasive Marketing. I’m a professional salesman who moonlights as a freelance photographer and marketing enthusiast.
Colbert: What part of the country do you call home?
Woods: I currently reside in St. Petersburg, FL
Colbert: Who or what has been your biggest personal inspiration? Professional Inspiration?
Woods: Personally, I find inspiration in anyone who sets a goal and actually takes action to take something from a thought in the air to a final product in the hand. I think that’s pretty cool. I think that’s why I respect every business owner, whether they are the owner of a small “Mom and Pop” bakery or the founder of an international corporation. I think we all want to leave a footprint in this world and I respect the people that actually take the action to strap on their boots. That’s the primary motivation behind this project.
When I do photography I always have a narrative in mind. I snap a series of shots that tell an overall story. I try to find a unique angle and I always have the walls in my home in mind with every shot. I like to ask myself, “Would I decorate my den, living room, office, or gallery walls with this pic?”
Colbert: How long have you been into Photography and since when have you been very “hard core?
Woods: Lol. I don’t know if I’d consider myself hardcore. :) But, I actually started photography out of necessity. I’ve been working on this Florida Tourism promotion for a while. It started with a pajama party at the Vista Inn in Tampa in the fall of 2012. We attempted to set a Guinness World Record for the Largest Sleepover Pajama Party. We didn’t set a world record at the time, but we had some success. Then I tried organizing a City Wide Pub Crawl highlighting the Best Bars, Restaurants, and Clubs in Tampa Bay in an effort to compile a party itinerary for tourist while they were in town on their stay. The first test run fell somewhat flat. So, I signed up some more merchants along the beach. I actually found an owner of a Clearwater Beach Motel who agreed to house our cast of “tour guides”. We then attempted a casting call to identify a willing staff and crew. Our thinking was that we could film the tours each week and make them available Video-on-Demand for tourists to watch and share even after their vacation was over. Unfortunately, people can be flaky though and the videographer I was working with at the time wasn’t always reliable. So, I started picking up the camera myself.
I personally thought my videos sucked, lol, but I liked my stills. I wasn’t very happy with the cast we had attracted with the first casting call, and my personal resources had pretty much been spent. So, I took time to reassess the plan and decided to do photo shoots in an effort to network and maybe identify potential cast members in the meantime. I actually applied to attempt to break this record last spring, and I’m just getting around to making a push for it now.
I’m grandfathering in all 50 or so merchants who believed in the project along the way and have already paid to participate in some aspect of the promotion. But, I recognized that in order to accomplish this lofty goal, I really needed to multiply myself; so hence the Kickstarter project. The goal is to raise enough funds to contract a call center, outdoor sales team, and more supportive marketing/promotion (print, radio, television ads, and etc.)
I’m just an entrepreneurial artist that’s actively working to chisel this large scale sculpture I have envisioned in my mind from what was originally a huge granite block of an idea in the air. So far it’s required a diverse array of tools. Sometimes I’ve had to use a chisel and hammer, sometimes I’ve had to use a brush to brush away the dust, and sometimes I’ve had to step back and reassess my course of action. The overall goal is the same, and the camera is the latest addition to my toolbox.
Colbert: Now, is photography something that you do professionally? A hobby? A combination of both?
Woods: Both, I definitely enjoy it, but just like everybody else; I’ve got bills I’ve got to pay also. So, yes. It’s definitely served as another source of revenue as well.
Colbert: What are your professional goals with photography?
Woods: My goal is to leave a footprint. I’d take pride in seeing some of my work on the walls of supporters or in magazines, and I hope to launch the upcoming Florida Flipbook :)
Colbert: Tell us about your project that aims to set a Guinness World Record? How did you come up with idea?
Woods: The idea is to attract the interest of 1500+ Florida State based merchants, do a shoot for each one in an effort to identify one pic that perfectly depicts that business and what it offers. Take each image and showcase it in a photo flipbook that also serves as a directory or tourist guide of the best people, places, and things to see or do while on vacation in the sunshine state. Slap a discount, “Concierge” card in each flipbook that will wield discounts at each participating merchant. Then I would then place the logo of each participating merchant on a billboard to set a Guinness World Record, if God permits.
Honestly, the idea came from a lot of tooling, tweaking, and relentlessly chiseling away at this huge sculpture I’ve been burdened with building.
Colbert: How do you plan to accomplish this goal?
Woods: Not by myself. Lol…It’s going to require the help of other photographers, business owners, hospitality/marketing enthusiasts, tourists, supporters, and journalists like yourself
Colbert: Where can people go if they share your vision?
Woods: Please show support on the upcoming Flip Book Kickstarter Project and of course our company website.