I love a good quote to put things into perspective when I’m having a crisis of confidence in my creative output, or feel like a project or goal is taking too long to achieve. There are many lessons you and I, as photographers, can learn from these 5 quotes from famous artists, entrepreneurs, and sports stars. Get ready for a boost of inspiration and a change of mindset!
“You have to expect great things from yourself before you can do them.” -Michael Jordan
Arguably the most dedicated, talented and obsessed sportsman of all time, iconic basketball legend Micheal Jordan was not short on confidence and self-belief. This quote speaks to the defeatist side of me that can often come out when I want to believe myself that I am not worthy or capable of producing great work.
This feeling overwhelms many of us, especially creatives who tend to be extremely critical of their own production and doubt that they will ever get to where they want to be. Our mindset has the power to take us from the ordinary to the exceptional, if we are willing to harness it. For years, I put myself and my work in a box, and kind of stayed there, wasting whatever potential I might have had in photography. I was not very convinced of myself, I put other people’s work on such a pedestal and considered my own as something that added to the noise. How can someone else value your photographs or your work if you yourself do not believe it is good?
One thing begets the other in this scenario too. As soon as I started thinking, hey my job isn’t bad, I have a style, a unique perspective on the world, my photography followed, and naturally improved. When kids draw pictures (which are clearly not masterpieces), we give them the utmost encouragement and positive reinforcement, and guess what that feels like? This allows them to feel good, draw more, and inevitably improve through practice. As adults, we seem to lose that ability to believe in ourselves and keep creating despite the outcome.
Take a leaf out of Micheal’s book, give yourself more “hang time” and start expecting hoop shooting quality the next time you fire the shutter. Confidence can take you a long way, and often it’s you who’s holding you back, not someone else.
“If you’re not bothered by the first version of your product, you launched it too late.” -Reid Hoffmann
This quote from LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman is one I’ve heard on podcasts, read in all kinds of books, and seen quite frequently on social media, and I love it.
We often hear these little gems in the form of quotes from people who built successful empires that made millions. We forget that they too were once a person like us, who simply had an idea or an idea to create something. You are certainly not the first person to take a camera and neither am I, which is all the more reason to share your work, now! In this image-saturated world, you don’t have the time or luxury to wait for perfection before applying for that photography job, submitting your photos to a contest, starting a YouTube channel, or launching a course. or a photography preset. Soon is not the right time, now is definitely the case.
As Reid says in his quote, even if it bothers you, it’s better to get the ball rolling and have started taking a step towards your goal, than to stand still and watch everyone pass you by, taking every opportunity in road course. . If you need a little help in this area, I reluctantly and hesitantly suggest you go back and watch my early videos on YouTube. Either I emboss on about 35mm film in my fridge or wander around the neighborhoods taking pictures on my Nikon F60 not knowing the pacing or the algorithm or anything other than just sharing my photography and my love for it. If I had waited until everything was perfect, I wouldn’t be writing this article right now.
“Ideas are easy, implementation is difficult” – Guy Kawasaki
The man behind the release of the 1984 Macintosh computer and the Silicon Valley venture capitalist is telling a real truth here. I’m sure Kawasaki has witnessed many brilliant ideas, but I’ve only seen a handful come from the other side. Implementation is by far the hardest part of any intention or idea. I have a theory that everyone probably has at least one really great idea up their sleeve, but bringing that idea to life or translating it the right way is the hardest part.
It is very relevant in our photography. Being the visual artists that we are, creative ideas are often abundant. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to have ideas constantly floating around, but a bunch of ideas on paper that never reach their end goal is kind of futile. In the end, an idea is just an idea until you make it a reality. Did I just submit a new quote? Feel free to reuse it.
Seriously, it’s worth thinking about and maybe re-evaluating that doodle-filled journal you open every time you come up with an idea for a location, video/article topic, or photo project. Understanding that implementation is difficult is also a practical thing to consider. You won’t be as frustrated with yourself when it takes you months to create a series, build a portfolio, collaborate with a model or photographer, and that’s okay.
So go all out, but know that this can be the hardest part and the ideas are the most fun part.
“Reject the tyranny of the picked. Choose yourself” – Seth Godin
Quote-maker and acclaimed author of numerous best-selling marketing books, Seth Godin is full of pearls of wisdom, especially when it comes to making your passion your job. Safe to say that I think any creative can learn a thing or two from Godin.
Do you wait for someone to give you an opportunity, or do you manufacture it and then grab it with both hands? In 2021, I gave birth during a pandemic and became a mother. In turn, I lost so much of myself and my identity that I went into overdrive trying to get it back. It led me to amass a YouTube channel that just hit 5K Subs, a photography podcast of mine, a writing opportunity at Kosmo Foto and Fstoppers, and also for the very first time in my life, I sold prints of my work hanging on the walls of people around the world. Do you know what I did not do to achieve this? Wait for someone to pick me up.
For so long, I thought the photography gods would give me a sign to let me know I was ready to sell my work, write about my passion for photography, and appear on other people’s podcasts. Instead, I went the Seth Godin route and chose myself. You should also choose yourself, because you are great and waiting is boring.
“Art is what you can get away with” – Andy Warhol
The man behind the soup can. Andy did a bit of everything and he definitely used the talented artists around him, and spit them out when he was done with them. Obviously, I am not suggesting that we take these cruel methods from Warhol. But I suggest we look at this Campbell’s soup can and think, hmm am I making my job more complicated than it should be?
I’m guilty of thinking that for my photography to have meaning or even be taken seriously, it has to arise from an elaborate idea that is tied to another idea, that carries all that weight. This is true in some cases, of course, and as humans we are naturally drawn to an intrinsic story or meaning. However, don’t underestimate the power of simplicity and the ability to redirect an idea or notion. Warhol was famous for his reworking of popular characters from our history and objects like the iconic soup can, but he did very little to really elevate them and make them his own. What stood out was the idea and even the audacity of what Warhol got away with.
Art is complex, and these reflections on Warhol and even his photographic work could go on for paragraphs. What I’m trying to figure out here is that yes, he did something anyone could do, but the difference is that he actually did. Have you ever sat there and consumed something, a video, a photograph at an exhibition, a series of photos on someone’s Instagram account and thought to yourself, I could have done this? Well, the difference is you didn’t and that’s where the art is, and as Warhol says, what you can get away with. So, what have you been missing lately? For the love of the arts of course.
And now ?
I hope it leaves you inspired, motivated and ready for action. Or maybe it gave you food for thought on your own photographic journey to greatness. Pick yourself, implement your ideas, don’t expect perfection and get out there and start making it. Like Andy Warhol.