"Whatever you do, don't stop. Just keep on going. Because one way or the other,
if you want to find reasons why you shouldn't keep on, you'll find 'em. The obstacles are all there;
there are a million of 'em. But if you want to do something, you do it anyway,
and handle the obstacles as they come."
At least once a week I try and go off track and away from the business and marketing side of photography. I like to focus on some of my experiences. I continue to have a pretty remarkable career, mostly because of the amazing friendships of people who have come into my life, but it's never been all roses.
I found the quote above and found it so typical of what so many of us do at times. We have an idea, and then we over-analyze it; we get gun shy and stop. We don't pursue it; we don't take the risk and eventually it just eats away at us. Then it challenges our confidence in other areas, on other projects until we either face our demons, or they carve out a permanent place in who we are.
Here's a great example, and it goes back to junior high school, ninth grade and became one of the most important lessons I ever learned. I tried out for the basketball team and over a week I made the first and second cuts. I had the height but was hardly a jock. I loved basketball and spent a lot of time shooting hoops in our driveway. I made it to the third round - the final tryouts were on Saturday morning. I remember waking up to go and then deciding not to bother. I wasn't as good as any of the other guys trying out, so I simply gave up.
The following Monday morning the coach called me into his office and said, "Hey Cohen, where were you Saturday?" There was no hesitation at all when I answered, "Coach, I just figured I wasn't good enough and decided I was going to get cut anyway." The coach just shook his head and then gave me a never-ending stare that I can still see. He finally spoke and said, "Too bad - you need to learn to believe in yourself because I was putting you through to the team."
My heart sunk, but it was an amazing lesson and the fact that I can write about it word for word fifty years later pretty much demonstrates the impact.
I post material seven days a week and in six years have probably only missed a handful of days. I do it because I love this industry and know the information I'm sharing can help you grow. I'd rather you learned from my mistakes and then made new ones of your own.
The bottom line is, no matter how many obstacles are ahead of you, don't give up. You've chosen an amazing career path - it requires your total heart and will challenge every skill you have. Photography is about trust, technology, creativity and art. It's about people, whether they're in your images or just enjoying looking at them. I know of no other career I could have chosen that I would have loved more than I do today, and you're on that same journey.
Be proud of the career path you've chosen. Stay focused on your goal of becoming the very best artist you can be and if you get stuck along the way and need some help or a cheerleader, you know where to find me.
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Check out "Why?" one of the most popular features on the SCU Blog. It's a very simple concept - one image, one artist and one short sound bite. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. We're over 100 artists featured since the project started. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.