This past week I went with Colleen to San Diego, Anaheim, Los Angeles and Orange Country to meet with different working photographers and tour their studios. It was a blast! PLUS I got a way better idea of the diversity of the photo industry. Because this past week was filled with tonsss of driving, I had lots of time to just reflect on all the tid bits that were running around in my head. Thought I would share a few of them with you. :)
1. Looks may be deceiving.
The photographers whose work & style I loved and who appeared to be on the more "glamourous/trendy" side of the industry, were all the studios I thought for sure I would enjoy the most. However, ironically, (I mean this as loving as possible) it was these that ended up being the least favorite and memorable of my experiences. --They were the less warm, helpful and down to earth of all the ones we visited.
The photographers who, on the other hand, owned more of the local portrait studios in the smaller suburbs were the ones that surprisingly, ended up having the images with more "soul"-- the kind of photos that moved you when you saw them. Unlike the others, they greeted us with warmth hospitality and gave us any information we asked for.
Funny how life often teaches us that success is not everything, especially if it causes us to loose ourselves in the process.
2. Accumulate Knowledge everywhere you go.
Someone once told me that a wise person recognizes that everyone has something to teach us, we just have to be willing to listen. This past week I finally grasped this reality for the first time. As we traveled along the coast of Southern California, visiting these photographers, (some of them who were 50+ in age and had been in the industry for years) I sat with my mouth open and listened as they told us stories of who they were and how they got to where they are. Many of them had studied with several of the greats and pioneers of our industry. Photographers such as Arnold Newman, Herb Ritts, Merrit Herrald, and many more. I couldn't believe some of the things they told us. At one point I got teary eyed at how full each of their lives had seemed with passion for what they did. What an inspiration they were to grasp the opportunities your given and pursue your dreams. More than talented photographers, they were wonderful people whose hearts longed to take the experiences they were blessed with and offer them to others so that they too, could chase their dreams.
This leads me to my next revelation....
3. Grasping Passion, loosing fear & chasing your dreams.
I am often an anxious person. Those who know me well would say I love and enjoy familiarity and comfortability. However, I'm learning this is not necessarily my best trait, but rather a negative result created from my fear of the unknown. Often times this has hurt me in my life and in my business, because it's prevented me from taking risks or experiencing all the fullness that life has to offer.
This past week, one of the photographers (while discussing life with him & my aspirations) asked me, "If you were to look into the future a few years from now and ask yourself who you are, what you care about & what you are doing (career-wise), what would you want yourself to say?"
As I proceeded to tell him, he then said, "Wonderful. Now do it!"
I couldn't help but sarcastically laugh and say "alright, piece of cake!"
Then he proceeded to explain that life is about figuring out what's important to you, and striving your hardest to take small steps that gradually move you closer to these passions.
While I almost wrote him off as cliche and unpractical, I thought harder about his advice and realized how true it is. I believe God is ultimately the dictator of our lives, however, I know as well, that He has given us passions and talents for a reason. He's given me this wonderful opportunity to be where I am, and I ought to strive my hardest to be the best I can be.
4. Relationships are more valuable than success- learn to create balance.
A common theme of my life recently has been all work and no play. This is a scary thought considering I am still a student and not quite in the "real world" yet. Several of the photographers who we visited this week also stressed the reality that passions are important but relationships are more. As I reflected over the past few months (or year of my life) I started to realize that several of the people who mean the most to me may not know it.
So often I get caught up in pursuing my dreams I forget to take the time to breathe or make that phone call to let them though they are loved. Determination and Drive is good, but it is not so good if it consumes you as to make you take for granted the people and things that are even more important. I'm finally striving for more of this balance in my life.
I'm hoping I can look back and remember more of the people that have influenced me and the relationships that I've formed rather than the success I've achieved.