Two years ago I was wandering around St. Louis at 6 AM before one of the Social Fresh conferences. I had my digital camera with me, and was looking for interesting photos to take. Right around 6:15, I saw the sun start to come up. A look to the east revealed the reds and golds of a spectacular sunrise about to make its way over the horizon, even if obscured by all the local buildings. Amidst the urban clutter was the landmark St. Louis archway. A look to the west revealed my hotel, all 28 stories of it.

Sunrise was on the way.

If you’ve ever done any photography, you know that moments like sunrises don’t last for more than a few minutes. There’s a brief moment of magic when everything is just right, and then it fades as the day begins.

I broke into an all out sprint to get back to the hotel, racing inside to the security desk. The guard on duty probably wondered if someone had been murdered at the speed I ran up to him, but my only question was whether it would be okay if I went up to the closed restaurant on the 28th floor to take some photos. He called the manager on duty, who said yes, and the guard unlocked 28 on the elevator. Up I went.

I immediately had to perform some unplanned acrobatics. The cleaning crew had just mopped the black marble floors of the restaurant and as I dashed out of the elevator, I slipped and fell on what felt like the slickest black ice ever. Thankfully, lots of martial arts experience and luck kept me uninjured and my camera unbroken.

I managed to get to the window in just under 10 minutes from the time I saw the sky change and aim to the east. My luck held:

St. Louis Sunrise

Be looking for opportunity.
Be prepared with the right gear and talent to take advantage of it.
Seize your opportunities with urgency, because they won’t last.
Be bold about asking.
Prepare to slip and fall, but be able to get up just as fast.
Take the shot.


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