Jim Morton and I have been good friends for a lot of years, starting out when I joined Hasselblad in 1987. We worked directly together for twelve years. Over those years we worked with thousands of photographers, spending a lot of time at conventions, trade shows and on the road with Hassselblad University. This was all back in the days of film and the world was actually a much bigger place than it is today. You didn't have the ability to email or Skype, let alone free calling to any place in the US or even other countries. There was no Facebook, no Twitter, no Google, LinkedIn or Pinterest - just a telephone and a lot of time on the road.
Jim sent me a great quote he found yesterday. He was thinking about all the fights people have on the customer service side of life, but I went in a completely different direction.
His quote got me thinking about all the photographers we met over the years. Then, I thought about all the photographers I "meet" every day on line and the way some of you respond to criticism and suggestions.
Many of you are looking for answers to help you on the career path to becoming a great photographer. You'll ask anybody and everybody their opinion on what you should be doing. You're on a quest for success and you think because somebody has been at it longer than you, they have the answers.
Here's what Jim sent me:
Never allow a person to tell you "No" who doesn't have the power to say "Yes"!
Everyone has a different definition of success. First you have to define your mission - for your life and for your business. Listen to everybody's opinions, but then boil them all down and do what your heart tells you to do. Remember the only opinion that counts is yours. You're the only one who can make the right "yes and no" decisions about your career.
Just to help you on your quest, here's what some remarkable artists and friends have to share with you. These are excerpts from their SCU Faculty pages. If you want to go back and read more and link to some of their images as well, just click on their name.
...Align your creative mission with your life’s mission. Most people need at least two missions; one for their life in general (which includes many things – health, family, finances, etc) and one for a specific area, like their career or creative life, which may or many not be the same. Make sure that your missions share something in common – something other than yourself. The more you can align the them, the more likely you are to achieve them, increase your productivity, and be more fulfilled.
John Paul Caponigro
...Learn to speak visually about what you love. All too often I see young photographers trying to shoot everything and anything, but that only shows you have no focus. Find your focus and stay true to it.
Matthew Jordan Smith
...Photography can be so exciting and it’s easy to be influenced by the comments of your Facebook fans who love your work. My advice is to enjoy the journey, but remember that advancing the art, the science and the business of professional photography never really ends. So, don’t just be waiting for the next great shot. Expand your skills and sharpen those photographic chops and go make that next great image.
...So, in the midst of all the business of making a photo career work, you have to carve out time for your own photographic endeavors, and find that which you feel to be so beautiful that you can't help but shoot it. These types of assignments, be they from a magazine, another type of client, or a self assignment, will keep you alive photographically, and remind you, always, of why you wanted to do this in the first place.
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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.