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Passion vs Reality.

I have been questioning a lot of things lately:

"What do I need to do to improve more to be noticed?"

"What else can I be doing to market myself efficiently?"

"Is my Passion just a hobby or do I have what it takes to make it a Reality?"

These are thoughts that run through my mind all the time.  I get that negativity that creeps in and says, "X's work is so much better than yours, you don't have what it takes." I start to listen to that voice then get pissed.  I know my work is not where I want it to be or where it should be "YET".  I say yet, because I have never really wanted to do anything more than what I currently do part time. 

A little history, I grew up with a mother and a step-father that were both photographers, I can still remember my first Kodak 110 Film camera and thought I was in the big leagues when I was a kid.  All I really wanted as I continued to shoot was the Olympus OM-10 that my mother had pawned off to purchase some things we'll just call "illegal".  I can remember being distraught the day that camera left the household.  I continued with my 110 until I moved back to IL until my love of Photography was stifled by such comments as, "Look where your mother is, it didn't do anything for her."  I listened to things like this for years until I moved out on my own.  When I saw my step father again, he gave me his old Petri FT set up with about 6 lenses, I was in heaven.  Sadly, my choices in youth and my father's ability to keep anything showing he had a son at his home was incredulous. Returning home after a stay in California, I was met with, "I didn't think you were coming back so I sold it."  I've spent most of my life on my own and alone, never really allowing people or friends to get close for fear of losing them. Hey, if they're not there and not real, how can I be crushed when they leave, right??? 

As the years passed on, career, marriage, I finally dipped back in to shooting again and this time with more passion than I ever really had.  I study other photographers methods, ask questions, probably too many at times (Sorry James), but there are people that fuel the fire I have again and it's hard to contain when all I want to do is see things through my viewfinder. 

I read a blog post today that had references from a LinkedIn article from a very successful entrepreneur who we'll just call Mr. Smith.  Mr. Smith stated that "Chasing a dream because it was your Passion was almost ludicrous these days, will it make you money, probably not?" This kind of struck home with me as I do make money with my photography and there have been times where I have to ask to be able to shoot or edit or anything, but that's just it.  I ask because it is my passion and it's what I want to do.  I say Mr. Smith had his dream smashed and chooses to do the same to anyone else.  I think if you have passion that it will drive you to work harder and hard work will always trump "waiting on it to happen".

"To put it bluntly, passion can get you everywhere, because it means you have the desire to put in an abnormal amount of work to excel at a particular skill; a skill, that when taken to a whole new level, is absolutely marketable."    ~Jenna Martin

I tend to think that this is a very viable point.  I do get jobs now that I would have never gotten years ago if I didn't have help from other photographers listening to me drone on with question after question, calls, texts, IM's and giving me little opportunities here and there. Is it  the main photographer in a creative shoot, no, but that doesn't mean I won't take the job, shut up and do what I was hired to do and suck every bit of knowledge I can get out of my surroundings and any tidbit of information the main creative force on the assignment will offer. There are invaluable forms of support out there if you look in the right places.

I know I would never have had the opportunities I have had or the equipment know how without those photographers who have always had a hand in telling me what's right, what's wrong and anything in between.  I enjoy the criticism, be it good or bad, photographers that get bent if someone offers a suggestion to anything are closed minded. They may be tops in their field, but I would guess that won't last for long and everyone starts somewhere.  How can you learn if not from things you did wrong or something you never tried?

Someone recently told me: "I hate every photo I've ever taken."  This puzzled me for a minute because he is an amazing artist and photographer.  I thought about it and looked back at my own work and realize I too am in this boat as I think I have a decent image then I see a similar one and say, "Damn, I should have moved my light one foot that way" or "why did I compose the image that way, it looks dumb."  I've stepped back and looked at my images and am no longer satisfied with what I thought was a "Decent shot".  Thank you R.

I don't think I can say thank you enough to all the Photogs out there that constantly offer me help, criticism, advice and opportunities to further myself and my career.  I'm more hungry now than I have ever been.

Special Thanks to:

James Law, Ryan Loco, Al Powers, Josh Hedges, Brett Seeley, Ed Mulholland, Tim King and James Snyder.  And especially my wife who puts up with ridiculous schedules and still pushes me to succeed, I love you K.