I never understood the people who thought they were finished - finished learning, finished practicing, finished experimenting. How can this be?
I'll never be finished. I don't think anyone ever will be.
I took a 2 week stay-cation. I did do some work...but more or less, I spent time on hobbies outside of photography. It was just in time for the holidays as well as the emptiest 2 weeks of off season of the year. I needed that small break. Ever since I went full time, I've felt like I need to be "doing more". It's a weird type of pressure to work for yourself. Working for someone else, there's a lot at stake. Your employer is watching you, monitoring your progress, evaluating if you are continuing to benefit the company or if you are hurting it. Working for yourself is oh so different. There's a whole group of different things at stake. You are now in charge of making yourself the person, artist, and business you want to be. And, to both yourself and everyone watching, you either guide yourself to success or to failure in the end. But it boils down to being your fault either way. And that's a hard thing to swallow.
So I marched on. Doing more.
More classes. More marketing. More ideas and concepts. More angles. More opinions. More eye opening. I would start at 7:00am and go until midnight learning. Doing. I needed to prove to myself I could do this. I needed to do everything I could in all the time I was awake for to build my success. I couldn't watch myself fail. That would suck.
I met up for a couple of hours with a photographer friend during my stay-cation. We talked all about making photos - what we do that we feel helps us, different techniques we've learned, ways each other looks at the world around us, and more. They ended up asking me something along the lines of "What's your secret?". Let's begin with the fact that at first I answered with a stunned look...because no matter how experienced I am or will be, I am too shy to feel like I deserve such a complimentary question as that. But, then I did answer.
"I keep doing more."
I got a little bit tired and took a stay-cation. and that's ok. But the truth is: doing more is the secret. I will never stop doing more. I will never stop learning and studying and going.
Here's some reasons to KEEP doing more:
-KEEP LEARNING: You will never be done. Annie Leibovitz is not done. Tom Brady is not done. Bill Nye is not done. Steve Jobs was not done. Walt Disney was not done. These people keep/kept learning. Practicing. Being open to different perspectives. Steve Jobs is the perfect example. If he stopped improving after his first great success, we wouldn't be holding our iPhones right now. We'd have ugly beige rectangle computers with an apple on them. Maybe something a little more progressed. But not our iPhone. If Walt Disney stopped perfecting and learning after his wild success with Snow White, movies would not be what they are today. I truly believe today's CGI where actors are fighting realistic dragons and aliens began with Disney's combining animation with film actors in Mary Poppins. Would these things eventually happen without Steve Jobs and Walt Disney? Of course...differently..and at a much slower pace. I'm not saying you're going to shape the world like these people just by continuing to learn. But you can shape YOUR world in that way. And that's so important.
-KEEP STUDYING: This is different than learning. Learning is hands on. Studying is quietly observing and making note to better yourself based on what you see. You bet your ass that not only do I soak in and take some type of knowledge away from every single photo I see posted (professional...or snapchat...I'll come back to this later). But, even though I'm a photographer...you know what else I study? Video. Movies. Paintings. Cartoons. Video games. People eating sandwiches at a cafe. I literally take every single visual around me and analyze it. I do it so often that it is second nature to me. I don't have to look at a couple on a date and tell myself "observe how they act with each other". My brain quickly...I mean QUICKLY...notices and takes note without me needing to stop and concentrate on it. If you're a visual artist, everything around you is fair game. If it's art it can teach you mood, a new angle, or new perspective. If it's a movie or a video game it can teach you lighting. If it's people, they can teach you human interaction and behavior. It's free knowledge and it's e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.
-KEEP EXPERIMENTING: How...no really...HOW...can you know what you're great at and what you suck at if you don't try new things? NO REALLY. (It's ok to be real.) Before I started shooting weddings I told myself it "wasn't my thing and that I'm a portrait photographer and I'm good at that so let's work with what we're good at". Wrong. Weddings are my world. I don't know where I'd be without them. Try new angles. Try new edits. Try new everything. If you hate it...if you actually end up being the worst at it...WHO cares. No. I mean I really want you to tell me right now who would actually care? (This is before you take it to the "client level"...your clients might be mad if you suck at it...but I'm talking about before all that). Who would care? You. Just you. And you'll get over it.
-KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN: Nothing is beneath you. I'm about to bring it back around to the whole "I observe every thing from professional photography to snap chat and I learn something from it all" statement I made. Ok. Clarification: there is a major MAJOR difference in quality and substance between a professionally made photograph and a snap chat. I know this. Please don't message me outraged about this. But what I'm saying is - no matter the quality - learn from that shit. From a professional photo you learn more artistic and technical stuff. From social media, you learn how people view themselves and how they view the world around them. That's important - especially if your work is based on people. Humans come with emotion, interaction, and expression...why not learn from them and observe them when it's all at your fingertips? I'm not saying be a creep...please don't go be a creep...but I've learned so much about what different people view as important just from seeing it laid out for me on social media. It helps with marketing, it helps with posing, and it helps with understanding genuine emotions and how people PORTRAY them.
So let's bring it all together. Shall we?
I don't understand the people that think they are finished.
Because the truth is - they aren't.
Thinking you are will KEEP YOU from moving forward, improving, and succeeding more.
Never. Ever. Stop. Doing. More.