Monday, June 2, 2008
Ok, I Am Living Out My Dreams... Now What?
I recently was riding through downtown Atlanta with some friends when I happened to notice the photo of mine seen above being used on a billboard right on the corner of Peachtree Street. (For those of you not familiar with Atlanta -- Peachtree Street is seen as kind of THE main street in Atlanta. You can tell somebody how to get just about anywhere in Atlanta from Peachtree Street.) Back on point — seeing my work used in such a way, in such a heavily trafficked public place was a pretty good feeling.
It is just kind of a rush when you start seeing where your work is being used in random places -- you know, just casually looking through a publication and all of a sudden there’s your work. You had no idea it was there when you came across it -- you just happened upon it. It makes you feel kind of honored that somebody thought enough of your work to actually pay you to shoot more of it to represent them or their company. (I hate that they did not call me to actually shoot a shot specifically for that billboard format, but that’s out of my hands.) What is my point here?
Well, I remember when I first got into photography on a professional level, I dreamed a lot, I looked at the work of other photographers that seemed to have shot after shot after shot of what I felt was great work at the time, it was just amazing to me. I dreamed of one day having a portfolio of images that was that impressive. I wanted to learn how to do work that impressed other people as much as their work impressed me. Well, today I have three different portfolios of images that seem to amaze people at times, and inspire those that are interested in photography themselves. I used to dream about having my work used in CD artwork, magazines, etc. etc. I also remember looking at photos on billboards and thinking “Wow, I wonder who shot that?”. I always thought that it had to have been done by some super-successful photographer (and in some cases may have been). I also used to dream about being the photographer that had been used to create those shots used on those billboards --which brings me back to my whole point.
I looked up and saw that billboard and felt like I had reached yet another goal and felt good about it — but not for long. I wanted even more. I looked at it and wished that I had shot a photo just for that ad. I looked at it and thought of how I wanted to shoot hundreds of other billboards before I quit. I got the same feeling the first time I had a magazine cover and CD cover — I just wanted more. So my question is when does it end? How far am I gonna push things before I feel content with my success? Will I ever feel content?
There is something to be said for reaching a “content” point in life, but I am not there yet — nor should I be. I feel that I am nowhere near reaching the point of success that I intend on reaching one day. So is the bar just going to keep on rising with each new success in this career for me? I hope so because it keeps things interesting — but when and where do you draw the line? I don’t want to get to a point where I give up being a good husband/boyfriend, father and friend on down the road to those I care about because I am so wrapped up with my career. I want to be as successful as possible, while not letting whatever success I have cause trouble with the rest of my life.
Anyway, I was talking with another friend and photographer the other night about how the business has been changing so rapidly over the past several years due to digital photography and the Internet. He really emphasized the idea of adapting as things changed so quickly and capitalizing on it. Figuring out how to make the most out of any given situation you are in at any one time or point in your life. I agreed with most everything he had to say and was left thinking afterwards about it all.
Realizing that I have made it to a point that I had once dreamed about and need to take it and run with it-- and then take it even farther. But it is difficult when you are not yet certain where you are running to and what route to take to get there. So the only thing I guess I can do is figure things out along the way, and try and enjoy the trip as much as possible.
So that is my point and challenge -- figuring out how to not be so goal-focused that I forget to stop and smell the flowers on the way to reaching whatever goals I may set for myself in the future.