Isn’t it funny the energy and excitement that can surround your life around the new year? For me personally I get all optimistic about what’s to come, and start trying to put into motion as many plans as I possibly can. I also tend to get it in my head that I need to start the new year off “right” for it to truly go the way I want it to. What is “right” anyway? Who knows, but here’s what I’ve been doing to get ready for 2010…
To begin with I looked into the spare bedroom, which is also known as my office and my studio, and noticed that it was a certifiable disaster area. I had enough stray papers to replenish the rain forest, and so many random doo dads and whatchamahickey’s that I honestly couldn’t see straight. So item number one on the list was to get organized and clean up the office/studio. I am proud to say that after two and a half days (seriously) of cleaning, my office is now organized and spotless. Keep in mind, however, that I am a photographer. This means that I almost certainly have a massive case of ADHD, and that my idea of organized is probably somewhere just above what FEMA would deem necessary to intervene in. Joking aside, I can now see my floor and my desk, everything has its place, and I can get to work in my shiny new space. Not sure how long it can last though, after all us creative professionals seem to love our cluttered desks. I think Albert Einstein said it best though when he said “If a cluttered desk signs a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”
So with my desk and office clean and primed for work, its time to get down to it…um…so now what? As I mentioned in my previous post, there are no road maps to becoming a successful creative professional, and thus we cannot wake up to a nice and tidy task list of things to knock out. We have to plot our course on our own, and that can sometimes flat-out suck.
First things first, we all need a plan. Without a plan we can’t take our first steps, and without the first step taken, we go nowhere. The plan has to have a goal, and so I think we all need to sit down with ourselves, look into our heart and souls, and ask ourselves what we truly want to get out of this. My goal is to try to use my images to help people, to affect change in our society. In looking at the current media landscape, I have chosen to work on my projects utilizing grant money, then create books, sell to museums and galleries, and exhibit in ways that can truly get the word out for my subjects, and hopefully create the desire for change that I seek. I’m not so much interested in newspapers, which is typically a delivery method for stories like those that I do, at the moment for two reasons. First of all, I’m not very excited about spending my day doing assignments that I didn’t choose. Selfish I know, but I have a hard time producing images of things I’m not excited about. Secondly is I no longer believe this medium is the best vehicle to send my message. Advertising research on imagery in newspapers show that people spend less than a second with each image on average. Less than a second. In my mind this isn’t enough time for people to truly be moved by an image. On the other hand, if I put my images into a book, or hang it in a gallery, then people spend anywhere from minutes to hours looking at the image, and can be moved if I have done my job. Further, people viewing the work this way tend to be in good shape financially, and if I honestly want people helping my subjects, then they need to be in a position to do so.
I also do not want to restrict my work to those with money, despite my previous quote. I want to as well find ways of exhibiting to an audience not used to seeing photography, and if they don’t have money, maybe they have time and can help in some volunteer fashion. It’s all very naive I know, but I sincerely believe that people want to do good by their fellow man, they just don’t always know what’s going on.
One last note on newspapers. Please don’t take this as a knock on them, simply my reasoning as to why they won’t work…for me. I believe they are valuable to our society and people need to be doing this work. Just not me. We all have our path, and mine doesn’t appear to head that direction, if yours does then by all means chase it and good luck! I assure you we are all rooting for you.
So for my plan to work, I need a few things to work with me: grants, publishers, curators, and gallery owners. It would also be nice to have some editors and art buyers like what I do and hire me for some interesting jobs…I wouldn’t complain about that for sure! What makes this entire strategy somewhat nerve-wracking is the fact that I should be working on each of those areas at the same time! I need to be writing grants while editing my current work, pushing to publishers, presenting to curators and galleries, and generating new ideas all at once. What the hell?!?! I signed up to take amazing images, not do all this other stuff! Sad news is folks, the minute you choose to make your passion a vocation, you added a whole new dimension to your work load. But it doesn’t have to be bad! We just need to stick to the plan…
So those are the components of my plan, what are yours? Each creative should have a different goal in mind, and thus a different set of needs to get there. I urge you to take the time to sit with your heart and figure out what you really want to accomplish. Then start to work backwards in developing your plan and things will begin to crystallize. Will the plan work? Who knows, but what I do know is you cannot become so attached to it that you are unwilling to change it, and change it often. Life has a funny way of not going the way we thought it would, and we need to be able to adapt. Make your plan as fluid and organic as possible, like water. That way when you flow into a boulder you simply slide around it, rather than pound your head against it for days! So develop a plan, but a flexible plan. Your plan should put you in a position to achieve your goals, and be flexible enough to not drown you when things don’t work out.
In my next post I’ll talk about the most important part of any creative professionals life and career: generating ideas. As always, comments and feedback are appreciated! Until then, how about another picture? This one is of Sue and my friend Heather…
P.S. – Anyone want to help me figure out how to make this blog a bit more fun to look at?