Reaching the Horizon, Maine
People often ask me for advice about their careers, their creative pursuits, their goals and strategies for becoming more creative. And especially how to become a better photographer. Given that I am still learning to do this myself, there is one consistent response I give to each and every person. Decide to be yourself. Commit to your vision of whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish.
There is so much pressure in our society today to live up to some ideal, value, or other prescribed definition of achievement or success. And there is no shortage of those ready to judge and discredit without consideration for anything other than their own limited perspective. Consider the sale of a Peter Lik print for $6.5million this past week.
While I may not hold Lik’s work in the same regard as other artists whose work speak to me, what does the have to do with his success as a photographer? I certainly respect his accomplishments as a photographer and entrepeneur. And it shows people are still willing to pay significant amounts of money for photography. And if Lik has found a way to tap into a market that appreciates his work, even if it’s driven by a brilliant marketing strategy, I say good for him.
The bottom line for me is that I can’t be someone else, and no one can be who I am. I’m comfortable celebrating that, and you should be as well. Because I can never be you.
Celebrate who you are, and let that lead your creative work. People will notice that faster than anything else you do with your photography. If that leads to monetary success, then great. But make sure you’ve defined what true success means to you first.
“Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen for what it intends to do with you. Before you tell your life what truths and values you have decided to live up to, let your life tell you what truths you embody, what values you represent.” –Parker J Palmer