I remember moving in to my home some ten years ago, an old ranch style house built in the late 40’s on what used to be the “east side” of Phoenix – at the edge of the desert then.

Rummaging through the stuff left behind by the former owner, I was moving an old shelf unit from the corner of my sun room when I caught a flash of color on the “faux wood floor” indoor-outdoor carpeting. I bent down to pick up a tiny satchel, a little “oriental” purse.

As I opened the pocket I was amazed to find two beautiful, delicate strands of pearls!

Now I’ve always heard stories about people burying their life savings in a coffee tin out back behind the house. And the lady that had lived here for a number of decades before her passing was an incredible packrat – with old 3-legged chairs, leaf rakes missing one or two wires from the fan, various size pieces of wood and plastic (that semi-opaque corrugated material you may see atop old utility buildings), stuff that was a little damaged but likely good for something one day or another – stashed between the backyard storage shed and the fence.

Those flawless pearls, hidden in that dark and dusty corner, were altogether something else – a real find.

Had things not worked out as they did I might have simply continued to store whatever on those out-of-the-way shelves, just swept around them and the treasure might have never come to light.

Lately I was reminded of that same sense of astonishment – having come upon something so special in the least likely place – as I reviewed the work I did this past October for WearGuard scouting locations for their work apparel catalog project.

Unlike much of what I scouted to tell the story on the American Express job (exclusive shopping and dining venues, a wonderful resort/spa experience) or the Harley Davidson catalog (funky “Route 66” Americana), the sites I would need to find for WearGuard were meant to be most utilitarian in nature – “a hardware store”, “a home construction site”, “an ATV dealership”, “a tool rental center”…

Just show me pictures!

Not only had I found places that offered the requisite background composition to read immediately as the work environment the product line needed to be shot in, I met some real characters and a few of the most cooperative business owners I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with in all my years in production.

And in the end, who would guess that simple, everyday work environments could look so fine in the camera?

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