I simply love this book and found a quote that gave me an idea for an entire blog post last week. (Click on the book and you'll find it on Amazon.) It's loaded with an almost endless stream of inspirational quotes.
Well, here's another one today by Maurice Sendak:
"Herman Melville said that artists have to take a dive and either you hit your head on a rock and you split your skull and you die, or that blow to the head is so inspiring that you come back up and do the best work you ever did. But you have to take the dive, and you do not know what the result will be."
Well, the other day I had a photographer criticize something I wrote saying, "That's easy for you to say, you've got everything going your way all the time!"
Okay, let's dispel the myth...I've had plenty of disappointments and even wrote about this particular one in the past.
I had an amazing job, president of Hasselblad USA from 1987 - 1999. One day two guys with incredible marketing backgrounds came into my office and made me an offer to be president of an Internet company, PhotoAlley.com.
The concept seemed to scream my name - an educational site about photography with its revenue stream anchored in an online camera store. Because it was a start-up, I was getting in on the ground floor and in the deal I also had equity in the company. I accepted the job and off I went to the Internet for the next two and a half years.
Even though we broke thirty million in sales, we still weren't in the black. The Internet imploded and that old business model of "we'll lose money and then go public and make millions" took down a lot of different companies, including PhotoAlley. A few weeks later I found myself standing in the unemployment line picking up my check with no job prospects in site.
Looking back on the whole thing, PhotoAlley was one of the many "dives" that Melville talks about. While it almost killed me, the inspiration was amazing and what I learned about business, marketing, the Internet and my own skill set gave me and even stronger foundation for my next adventure, president of WPPI/Rangefinder.
Take a look around the industry and listen to some of the stories about photographers you admire the most. Virtually every time you'll hear about the "dives" they've taken, some good and some terrible, but they've never allowed them to kill their spirit. Each new dive or challenge has only made them stronger.
Great new directions along with disappointments happen all the time, but if you're not taking those "dives" then you're not growing in your business or as an artist. Don't worry about making mistakes - each one is a stepping stone to making you stronger.
Success does not consist in never making mistakes,
but in never making the same one a second time.
George Bernard Shaw
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.