Most people who know me, know I’m passionate about photography. As soon as they realize how over the top I am, they start talking to me about business and want to know how I make money? Money I say, no I don’t do it to make money. Then the conversation awkwardly shifts because for most people they can’t understand doing something without money as the motivation.
My personal goal in photography isn’t to make a living from photography. At least not yet. Maybe it will happen, maybe it won’t, but my real goal is to get really good and enjoy the journey getting there. I aspire to be one of the best, but I’m a realist and I know even after all this time, I still haven’t put in enough time behind the camera. I’m still just mid-grade, but I don’t want to be mid-grade for the rest of my life. I also honestly don’t know if its a time equation or there is some innate skill that I lack preventing me from becoming great. Time will tell.
I liken my shooting to preparing myself for future opportunity. If you look at the graph above, on the left is opportunity. It comes and goes over time. On the right, skills and experience. As the opportunities come and go over time, it is only every once and a while that you are in alignment with the opportunity. When that happens you have a perfect match. Or as some would say you are at the right place at the right time.
Sure its fun shooting beautiful models, but thats not my real motivation. I shoot models because they are making me a better photographer. Two people with a vested interest in making the outcome of a photo shoot the best possible.
I bet if you polled the average guy in America, 99%+ would say, hell yes, I want to shoot high end models for catalogs.
So what does the chart have to do with Playboy Bunnies and Victoria’s Secret?
If I want to shoot or help create a high end catalog, I’m not going to get there by simply sitting idle and wishing that someday out of the blue someone is going to come to me and ask me to shoot for them. If I do that, my Skill/Talent won’t be in alignment with the needs of the opportunity. Instead, I need to be working on my skills and experience to get there. I need to be constantly taking small actions that over time that will add up into something significant.
I bet if you polled the average guy in America, 99%+ would say, hell yes, I want to shoot high end models for catalogs. The only problem is 99.9% of those guys don’t have the skills or experience to do it and they are not on a path to get those skills. They will never be in a position to shoot this sort of thing. If they were by chance lucky enough that the opportunity presented itself they would fail before they even got to step one.
Virgil are you one of those 99.9% that would fail? Right now at the exact moment if the opportunity presented itself, I don’t know. I might be in the 99.9% that would fail or I might be in the 0.1% that would succeed. I know I still have a ways to go, but I also know I am on the right path. I have studio of my own, I’m building my network of models, photographers, makeup artists and others around me, and I’m gaining experience.
Things that do differentiate me from the 99.9% are that I have already in fact shot high end models. Now granted this wasn’t for Playboy or Victoria’s Secret, but I’m at least in the 0.1% who have done something like this. To some degree since I’ve shot these models, I’ve gone backwards from lack of shooting, but that happens on the right-hand side of the chart. You don’t get to constantly go forwards, its wrought with the mental exercise that requires perseverance to accomplish and move forward. As you move up the skills and experience side, it gets exponentially harder.
To give you an idea of what exponential is, when I do mini sessions on studio lighting, I can usually very quickly bring someone up to a basic competency in about 3 hours. I then tell them, great, you have 3 hours under your belt, be prepared for the rest to take years to master. Good luck! That’s what happens on the right hand side of the chart. The initial stuff comes easy and it continually gets more and more difficult.
Next up, I’m going to talk about the trough of disillusionment. This is actually a term used to describe new technology, but I think it applies to anything that’s difficult to achieve. I’m still not out of the trough of disillusionment.