One Tool Just as Important as Craft and Aesthetic for Artists

One Tool Just as Important as Craft and Aesthetic for Artists

Sometimes, when you want to win the big game, you have to be willing to call your own number.

No successful person is truly a self-made man or woman. It may seem like that. That might be the story that person tells in interviews or on their Instagram feed. But, truthfully, we all are in need of some help along the way in order to make our dreams come true. Sometimes, that’s a financial investment to help us get started. Sometimes, that’s a friend offering to volunteer to help us carry lights or let us crash on the couch when we are still figuring things out. Maybe it is simply moral support. A kind word at just the right time that helped us put off the urge to throw in the towel for just another day. Or maybe it's that first client that took a chance on us and hired us for that job that, in hindsight, launched our career. Somewhere, some way, sometime, there was someone who helped us. And, regardless of how talented one may be, those kindnesses shouldn’t be forgotten.

But there’s also another truism in life. Nobody cares about your dream as much as you do. Our loved ones may be there to give us moral support. Our crew members may bust their butt to help us realize our vision. But, at the end of the day, you have to be the one that cares the most. And, if you think about it, that’s how it should be. It’s your dream, after all. Another person can’t possibly live inside your body and feel all the motivation that you do for this particular thing. They may help because they love you and want to support you. But it’s your project. And nobody can love your baby as much as you do.

Feeling this amount of love and responsibility for giving your dreams life is essential. No goal, no matter how attainable it may seem, is going to be free of obstacles. Ups and downs are simply part of the ride. And, at some point during every journey, the prospect of turning back will seem more appealing than forging ahead into uncertainty. The only thing that is going to send you once more into the breach is your passion and refusal to give up on your goal.

If you are working in a collaborative creative space, like on a film set or a larger photo campaign, you will be tasked not only with doing your best, but with inspiring others to do their best as well. Enthusiasm is contagious. So is apathy. Your passion for your project, or lack thereof, will be transmitted to those around you. If you’re lucky, it’s already more than just a paycheck to you. It’s your creation. But, if you want to fully realize that vision, you’ll want the project to feel like more than a paycheck to your crew as well. And the secret is that they want to feel that way too. Nobody wants to feel like they are just wasting their day going through the motions. They want to feel inspired. They are begging to be inspired. And the passion you bring to the project can be just the right match to light their fire.

As commercial artists, we spend a great deal of time talking about technical craft and trying to find our artistic voice. But, just as important to a successful career is resiliency. It’s a long road from where we start to where we will end. For every success, there will be numerous setbacks. For every hand that pats us on the back, there will be a dozen more seeking to shove us off course. It takes a love and passion for our vision as well as a stern self-reliance in order to persevere.

At first, it may seem as though today’s essay has little to do with photography. But reaching our goals, both personally and professionally, requires more than just technique. As artists, we’ve chosen to pursue a higher calling. Rather than simply trade in what is, we’ve instead chosen to take on the responsibility of envisioning what might be. This takes courage. This takes sacrifice. This takes belief.

Believe in yourself. Believe in your vision. And share that belief with the others around you. It may not be possible for anyone to love a dream as much as its own maker. But there’s a whole world out there just waiting to be inspired. And, in your own passion, you hold the key.

Christopher Malcolm's picture

Christopher Malcolm is a Los Angeles-based lifestyle, fitness, and advertising photographer, director, and cinematographer shooting for clients such as Nike, lululemon, ASICS, and Verizon.

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