I am Realistic
You know I'm optimistic. Especially if you've been reading my 'I Am' blog posts for any length of time. I see opportunities where most see obstacles. I'm hopeful, bullish and upbeat about the future of photography - no question about it! I love this business. But as in life, optimism needs to be tempered with realism. So that's exactly what this post is about. Being realistic. Matter of fact. Down to earth. Commonsensical. Level-headed advice from a pro who has been around the block.
Be realistic about your career choices. Succeeding, as a career photographer, is hard. Real hard. It's demanding. Fatiguing. Wearying. Formidable. Rigorous. Even punishing. So if you're choosing photography as a career, you've gotta be realistic. You have to understand and appreciate what you're getting into.
Thousands enter the business annually. Few make it past their first year. Because it's tough, taxing, testing. Only the strongest and most tenacious survive. It's always been this way. It will always be this way. Photography graveyards are full of headstones of career newbies who were more in love with the ideology of a lifestyle than the reality of a profession. Get perspective. Get real.
Put the fame and fortune aside. Look instead down the tunnel of hard work, long hours, gradual success, hard to find opportunities. This is photography today. Is it for you?
You have to know strongly and firmly, deep in your heart, that you've been called to be a photographer. I'm dead serious - called! That's right. And to succeed, you have to almost believe that there are no other career options for you. That the voice inside you is so strong, thunderous and deafening that your only course of action is humble obedience and willing allegience.
Photography is not for the casual. Not for the faint of heart. Not for the timid, tenuous, doubtful. And it's surely not for the lackadaisical commitment.
The work, at every level, is undoubtedly hellish, herculean, rigorous. It's going to take every ounce of energy, imagination, vision and mission you have to not only jump-start you, but to also prod you along this road less travelled. Does that frighten you? Excite you? Or perhaps both?
If it were an easy profession to succeed at, then everyone would be doing it. It's not easy. Not at all. Especially if you want to get to the top. And especially the first couple of years - which will undoubtedly be wearisome and toilsome. Trust me.
Do you feel summoned? Urgently called? Do you have the skills, gifts, temperament to stand up and stand out? Are you prepared to fight through disappointment, discouragement, even despair? Overcome the odds? Stay true to your calling at all costs? At all risks? With reckless abandonment?
Are you ready to wear multiple hats? Shooter. Post-processor. Printer. Business person. Accountant. Banker. Lawyer. Marketer. Self-promoter. Director. Producer. Editor. Videographer. Is that soulful tug so strong, intense, and fierce that in spite of challenging odds...you feel compelled, mesmerized, spellbound to obey the voice within?
There are no easy roads here. No shortcuts. No secret passageways. No detours. No roundabouts. Career success means facing these challenges head on. Month by month. Day by day. Hour by hour.
The good news in all of this (if you've managed to read down this far) is that there are rewards, treasures and life gifts beyond imagination waiting for you. Waiting on the other side of the fence of conscientiousness, indefatigability, perseverance.
Looking back over a 30 year career, I've had my share of ups and downs. But without hesitation or vacillation, I can say I wouldn't have it any other way. What a life. What a career. What a profession. What a calling.
Be of good cheer, my friends. See you on the other side. Let's break bread together.