Lessons Learned – Following Your Own Path

With a bit of downtime, I like to organize my thoughts in the form of Lessons Learned and get some feedback from the creative community. Previously, I skimmed the surface with a whopping two posts on Following Up and Contracts, and I hope to make this a regular thing.

I would like to start with a phrase that has been kicked around a lot lately and I haven’t seen it paid its due diligence. “Follow your own path.”

This phrase is very reminiscent of my days on active duty. I would be invited to a ‘free lunch’ by one of my peers, only to find out that someone is trying to hustle me into joining a pyramid scheme. A moderator with a Rolex and a gold necklace would talk without interruption for 30 minutes about how they ‘made it,’ and never cite what they actually did to accomplish all this wonderful material wealth.

The same goes for this phrase. I hear a lot of creative types pay it lip service. All too often, I will take a look at their work after hearing this phrase tossed around and come to find out, they are just chasing fads.

One of the best compliments I’ve ever received was from a Georgia boy named Rex who once told me, “you are the biggest non-conformist I have ever met!” Thank you Rex. Having this attitude has led to many ups and downs, but I hope that what I am doing will help me solidify my photography voice.

Here is how I follow my own path, from capture to client:

  1. Sony Cameras – Consequently, when I mention this fact it raises a lot of brows. I love the look of Ziess glass coupled with Sony CMOS sensors and I know that I make up a distinct minority in the professional category.
  2. Photoshop – As familiar as I am with it, I choose not to use it extensively. I strive to create timeless imagery that will never fall out of fashion. Look at Velvia or any hand-painted ads of the 70’s, does anyone still look at them and wonder?
  3. Professionalism – I work diligently to present myself in the most professional manner.
  4. Web Site – Rather than using a Flash and/or site template, my web site is built from the ground up. It accurately reflects who I am and what I provide to my clients.
  5. Client Base – My niche is military photography. This extends to my wedding and editorial work, and I don’t actively pursue clients outside of those lanes.

My intent with this post is to encourage you, the creative professional to take a unbiased look at your work and ask yourself “am I following my own path?”

So I ask, are you running with the pack or have you blazed your own trail?

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