For me it's the passion I have for imaging. I don't profess to be a professional photographer, although I've been lucky to have a few images published over the years and yes, I do know more than I let on, but my specialty is on the marketing and business side. What really keeps me going though, is so many of you and your passion to constantly raise the bar. The excitement you share with all of us when you get the shot! The generosity of so many of you who take the time, whatever it takes, to help another photographer.
However, there are still a whole bunch of you who are simply unhappy and just haven't hit your stride yet. Chasing dreams is exhausting, especially when you don't realize how much progress you really might be making. So, here's what I've learned in my almost-an-old-fart life's experiences:
1) Everything always works out for the better! It might sound trite, but I've seen it happen over and over again. Just when you think it's the darkest day of your life, the sun comes out. Just trust this concept!
2) A watched pot never boils! Okay, I threw that in for my grandmother's sake. In today's terms it simply means stop looking so hard. You're looking for success and recognition and it'll all come in time. Just keep working at expanding your skill set and never compromise on quality.
3) You're judged by the company you keep! There she is again, Grandma Alice, who used that expression all the time. In today's terms it means hang out with people who can help you grow. I've worked for a few people in my life who loved having people work for them who they though they could intimidate, but I learned the most from those managers who encouraged me to challenge their decisions. The same goes for my friends, who challenge me every day.
If you're a tennis player you know your game gets better when you play with somebody better than you. Photography and business are the same way - surround yourself with people who are trying new things, have confidence and are willing to give you advice, even when it contradicts what you're about to do.
4) Never believe your own press releases. No matter what you're announcing, you can always up your game. You always have room to do more - don't put limitations on what you might want to try next.
5) Absolutely anything is possible! All it takes is hard work and a great support team. Look at some of the things you're doing right now. You're probably involved in projects or techniques today you never believed you could do just a few years ago.
We're all part of an amazing industry with incredible photographers, terrific manufacturers and many genuinely approachable icons, but you've got to talk to them to get their feedback. You've got to share your ideas in order to develop new ones and most important of all, you've got to be patient and don't slow down!
"If you want to be successful in a particular field of endeavor, I think perseverance is one of the key qualities. It's very important that you find something you care about, that you have a deep passion for, because you're going to have to devote a lot of your life to it. " George Lucas
Illustration Credit: © kentoh - Fotolia.com