I’ve learned that personal success doesn’t come with proof. It isn’t written on a business card, a resume or on a bank statement. It cannot be measured nor can it be sized up. All I can show for are my gratitude journals that I’ve filled up over the years documenting the little things I am thankful for in my life and the photographs that I take. I think what really matters is practicing photography to some degree of skill in a sustained way and to nurture that passion for the medium regardless of the outcome.
Over time, I learned that failure is important for creative growth. Without it , I would not have gotten the strength to be honest with myself and to make the decision to pursue projects that matter to me. It was difficult and painful but in the end, it was worth it.
I never used to understand what a calling was and now I do. There is just something inexplicable that compels me to be on this photographic journey.
Through the years, I have built a life that allows me to pursue my passion.
The fear is always there but I learned over the years not to pay too much attention to it. Otherwise, I will not accomplish anything. There are many factors involved in pursuing a personal project and the details can be overwhelming. If I dwell too long on its scope, it pushes me to inaction. I learned to always start small and do things one step at a time. Small victories allow me to move forward. Before I know it, I've already made significant progress.
There has been some heated reactions over at A Photo Editor about a young photographer who ran out of money and felt defeated after working sparingly as a photo assistant in New York for close to a year. He made a decision to go back to school to take a Master's Degree in Accountancy. He writes, "As disappointed as I am, I feel this is the only way to go to have any kind of success for myself in the future. I hope that I can go back to photography in the future once I get my finances together..."
Each one of us has a threshold for risk and some are more fearless than others. But that doesn't mean the risk adverse is less passionate about their photography than the risk taker. Regardless, the end goal is to continue making pictures no matter how it gets accomplished. The meaning of success is also very personal. In the end, it doesn't really matter what others think but how one maps out their destiny and fulfills it in their own terms.
Jörg Colberg of Concientious had an interesting conversation with his friend D:
"The other day, I talked to my friend D. about this. He said that in principle, instead of looking for young photographers we should actually be looking for older photographers. He argued that unlike in painting, where a painter's technique often evolves significantly with age, photography usually doesn't show such an evolution - in part because of photography's very technical nature. So, he argued, young photographers are technically as competent as older photographers, but what really makes a body of work is not technique but "everything else." It took me a while to make him specify what he meant by this, and it basically came down to what one might call "life experience". In essence, D. argued that if you're very young you are usually not able to see as many facets of the world as when you're older, and, crucially, that translated into what kind of photography you are able to produce."
Read his full blog entry.