The kind of commitment I find among the best performers across virtually every field is
a single-minded passion for what they do, an unwavering desire for excellence in the way they think
and the way they work. Genuine confidence is what launches you out of bed in the morning,
and through your day with a spring in your step.
I've written a few times over the years about being one of the luckiest guys in the photography industry. One example is having the privilege of working with all four of the icons above. Don Blair and I wrote our first book together. I have dozen's of Monte stories from so many different workshops and programs. Avedon made me lunch once in the flat above his studio, and Scavullo's dog tried to take a piece out of my leg on a couple of different visits.
As we go into the last month of 2016, and at the same time prepare for a new year, it's the perfect time for all of us to remember the ingredients that made those four above iconic, along with the traits of so many younger contemporary artists we admire today.
Image Quality: They NEVER compromise on the quality of an image. Exposure, composition, expression and impact are as consistent as the sun coming up every morning.
Lifestyle Quality: They maintain a lifestyle of giving back and a strong sense of family and friendships. They have integrity, they have poise and they follow through on their promises. They also surround themselves with people with similar commitments.
Loyalty: Whether it's to the vendors they work with or their friends, their loyalty is rarely questioned. Everyone watches each others backs and the mutual respect and admiration, at least from my perspective, is pretty much unmatched in comparison to most other industries.
Humor: They don't take themselves too seriously. Think about any program you've attended that you loved and learned something - I'm willing to bet you laughed...a lot. Today's photography icons are comfortable with admitting when they do something stupid, have fun with a client or completely screw up a job and live to tell about it.
Humility: Not everyone has it, but even those few we might consider a little arrogant - if they knew how they were being perceived they'd be upset and ready to work on a different persona. So, I'm not sure if the quality I'm trying to describe is humility or a willingness to listen, but they've got it.
Confidence: They believe in their abilities, their willingness to learn new skills and they understand their camera gear and photography cold - there's no second guessing and no "chimping." Even when they talk about a new idea or technology, you'll pick up a unique tone in their voice, almost as if they've been shooting that way for years.
Diverse Skills: It goes with confidence, but there's nothing they can't shoot. We might know them as a portrait photographer and then we'll see work that's fine art, landscape or architectural - they refuse to be type-cast into any one skill set.
Passion: It's the last word on the list, but it drives everything they do! It's not just about photography, but about life in general - they simply never stop loving the craft, their lives, their friends, families - you name it and passion is what drives them to succeed.
"The only way to do great work is to love what you do.
If you haven't found it yet, keep looking.
As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it."
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.