One day I asked myself, “If someone were to give me the complete freedom to shoot anything I wanted with an unlimited budget, what would that be?” This was meant to be an existential question about who I wanted to be in the future as a photographer. The answer changed my life as a photographer and might change yours as well.
Photography gets under your skin. It burrows itself into your soul and infects you for a lifetime. It chooses you. When you meet other people who also love photography, their energy is infectious and it’s deeply inspiring to be around. They understand your obsession. And they want to talk about the virus that’s infected us all.
When I started using Speedlights, I was hoping that I might be able to use them for some of my work without feeling like I was cheating my clients. A few months and many projects later, the only one I feel like I’ve been cheating is myself—for not ditching the studio gear more often. These days my Speedlights are getting a very regular workout and I feel pretty foolish for not looking into them years ago.
There are precious few careers that can put you on a major league baseball field one day, in a helicopter the next day, and on a movie set the following day. It’s a true gift to find something to do with your life that sustains your soul and spirit. It’s like finally discovering “the one.” When you find that connection, the depth of the love is undeniable. It weaves itself into your very being and remains there until the day you die.
Do you really want to do what’s necessary to become the best photographer you can be, or are you more drawn to the idea of being a photographer and the trappings that come with it? If you’re just beginning on your path, I think it’s a fair question to ask yourself. And it demands a soul-searching answer. In other words, as my friend Dave Black likes to say, “Are you all in?”
Nearly every successful photographer I know has selected at least one shooter from which to borrow, steal, sample, appropriate, or use as inspiration the lessons someone else has learned. And to be clear, it’s not their pictures that should be appropriated, it’s their wisdom. Modeling is the compass that anyone trying to navigate the business of photography will wisely use to reach their destination with as few detours as possible.