Yesterday's "It's Time to Stop the Madness" was one of the most commented about posts I've ever written, but I didn't start out with any particular plan except to express a lot of disappointment in so many artists taking shortcuts. My rant got me thinking about the constructive side of the problem and I found this quote from Winston Churchill that really hits home...
"To every man there comes in his lifetime that special moment
when he is tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing. What a tragedy if that moment finds him unprepared or unqualified for the work which would be his finest hour."
Note: It's interesting that one of the most iconic portraits ever taken was by Yousef Karsh, who NEVER compromised on the quality of an image. His portrait of Sir Winston Churchill may well have been one of his "finest hours!"
The images in your galleries have to be representative of your skill set. There's no way to bluff your way through a session or an event if you don't know what you're doing. All the Photoshop skills in the world aren't going to give you the ability to create the stunning images the client hired you to capture.
Being a successful professional photographer means building trust with your clients. There are no shortcuts to understanding exposure, composition and depth of field, just to name a few. I've written books with Don Blair, Bambi Cantrell, Joe Buissink and Scott Bourne and the common denominator with each of these industry icons is, they NEVER compromise on quality. The never take on a job they can't do. They never disappoint a client. Most important of all, they always work to make themselves habit-forming!
If you're taking the time to read my blog posts or anybody else's then we know you've got the passion. It just takes time and constant practice to get your images to that point where without any hesitation you know you've met the client's mindset.
Michele Celentano once got up in front of a group of new photographers and said, "Twenty years ago I was right where you are now, wondering how long it would be before my work didn't suck!"
She then proceeded to share some of the worst images I've ever seen, but each one provoked a little more laughter and you could see people start to relax. Each person realized they weren't alone in their frustration to ramp up their career.
There are no shortcuts to becoming a great artist, but there's nothing you can't do if you've got the passion. Better yet, if you stay focused and work to always be prepared, you don't have to worry about the tragedy of missing "your finest hour."
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.