syl_arena_lidlips_7386

This Week’s LIDLIPS

66. If you follow someone else’s path too long, you’ll lose track of where you left yours.

67. Sometimes “good enough” is better than “the best”.

68. Making yourself vulnerable is a sign of strength.

69. Never hesitate to share your guacamole.

70. Starting is the hardest part. Knowing when you are done is the second hardest part.

Lessons I Didn’t Learn In Photo School 66–70

66. If you follow someone else’s path too long, you’ll lose track of where you left yours.
One of the hardest parts of living as a photographer is to stay true to yourself. In a world that is awash in images, it’s all too easy to want to do what more successful photographers have done. Every photographer veers off into the territory of his peers, mentors and champions from time to time. Yet, each one of us has our own path – our own vision – that’s waiting to be explored. When you are starting out, it’s natural to make photographs that others have made. Eventually though, you’ll need to find your path and have the courage to stay on it. As you venture on, when you’re tempted to chase someone else’s success, remind yourself that if you follow their path too long, you’ll lose track of where you left yours.

67. Sometimes “good enough” is better than “the best”.
Having the best (aka: most expensive) gear or producing the best (aka: most technically complex) photo is not always the best (aka: most beneficial) way to go. Having or doing the best often means spending twice as much money or time just to get a little bit more. Sure, in the Olympics being .07% faster than your competitor can be the difference between gold and silver. In photography, avoiding that obsession can be the difference between becoming an expert shooter or an expert on gear specifications. It can be the difference between making money on a shoot or having to reach into your pocket to subsidize the job. “Good enough” does not always come in second behind “the best”.

68. Making yourself vulnerable is a sign of strength.
It takes guts to open yourself to the criticism of others. “I may be good, but I’m not as good as I can be” is a hard thing to say with confidence and enthusiasm. The more you are able to open yourself to commentary, the better you’ll become. Actors have directors. Writers have editors. Athletes have coaches. Pro and amateur alike – we all need to make ourselves vulnerable to the criticism of qualified observers. Doing so is a sign of strength. Not doing so allows fear to win.

69. Never hesitate to share your guacamole.
I was having dinner with a large group of photographers after a workshop when I noticed that the fellow next to me was eyeing the huge mound of guacamole that had arrived on my plate. “Do you like guacamole” I asked. The enthusiasm in his reply left no doubt. So, despite my lifelong love of southwestern cuisine, I gave him the whole pile. A few years later, I was attempting to contact an internationally-known photographer in Manhattan. Turns out that the fellow to whom I’d given my guacamole had moved to New York and become his studio manager. Rather than being tossed out, my letter was put before the photographer and I received a personal reply. Never hesitate to share your bounty with another photographer. A couple of smashed avocados might just be the ticket that gets you to the next level.

70. Starting is the hardest part. Knowing when you are done is the second hardest part.
Sir Isaac Newton, the 17th-century physicist, could have been a career counselor for creatives. He demonstrated that something at rest tends to stay at rest and that something in motion tends to stay in motion – until acted upon by an outside force.  For the creative, getting a project started is the hardest part. Coming up with the initial bit of inspiration seems easy. Taking the first few steps at converting the inspiration into action is the real challenge. Then, once you’re in the groove and the creative stream is turning into a river, you’ll hit the creative’s second-hardest challenge – figuring out when you should stop.

Previous Lessons I Didn’t Learn In Photo School

The entire LIDLIPS Series

 

9 Responses to Lessons I Didn't Learn In Photo School 66-70

  1. Joanie says:

    You always seen to know what I need to hear. All of these resonate deeply and personally for me. Thank you. Thank you for sharing what you know.

  2. sam coran says:

    great read for a newbie like me.

    i love going back to your website and learning new things.

    thanks for sharing.

    sam

  3. Sherri Meyer says:

    Syl – Great post! I agree with Gary. #66 is vital. If you are too busy trying to be like someone else, you can't be yourself. Period.

    Sherri

    Auburn, California

  4. Syl:

    These are great. I’m really enjoying the series. All of these hit home in some manner, but #66 I feel is very worthwile. I always advise photographers in my councils to seek out and develop their personal vision and style. The more clarity one uses when looking inside themselves for inspiriation, rather than copying someone elses “cool” photo, will always yield better results, and set the photographer away from the pack.

    Cheers,

    Gary.

  5. [...] and Read More: pixsylated.comSHARETHIS.addEntry({ title: “Lessons I Didn’t Learn In Photo School 66-70 – Syl Arena (Pixsylated)”, [...]

  6. Ray K says:

    Syl
    Another series of gems.
    #66 is so true it is painful, learn from others then add your own to anything you do.
    #70 Reminds me of what my son said “The problem with doing nothing is knowing when you are finished”. It is so easy to finish the idea in your head that a lot of real good projects never seem to get a beginning.

  7. reader says:

    #67 reminds me of a quote that goes something like “Never let the best stand in the way of the better”

    Great series, thanks!

  8. Rich C says:

    Another great list. Compile into a book at some point?

    Number 70 is right on! Once in motion you’ll never know what can come out of it. Keeping the momentum is important, but don’t go too far…. :)

  9. Mark says:

    More gems. Thanks!

    Still don't know if I can share my (literal) guacamole though….

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>