If You Wait Until You're Good Enough, It's Too Late

If You Wait Until You're Good Enough, It's Too Late

More and more people fall in love with photography everyday. This will only increase the more approachable and affordable it becomes. There seems to be some people who think that because of this photography is somehow dead. Yeah, that really makes a ton of sense. Maybe the people saying there is no way to succeed in today's saturated market, are really just the same naysayers that have been telling musicians, athletes, entertainers, scientists, or charities for years that it can't be done. Anything can be done with enough determination. And luckily for us, determination is free.

Too late for what? I have no idea. See, the point is that there is no "too late", and there is no "good enough". If you have the passion, and want something badly enough, do it. Do the hell out of it. This is my advice to people still lining up ideas in their heads, talking about someday or somehow. Go do something towards your goal now.

Many cases of successful people follow a similar pattern. They don't listen to people that try and hold them back, and they hustle their butt off.

A budding basketball star might practice for five plus hours a day. Doing this will actually make them stand out from a crowd. This has a wonderful side effect of increasing their confidence, which leads to more success. If you want this type of effect in photography you need to shoot your jumpers, and practice your dribbling. Practice shooting what you love. Immerse yourself in whatever discipline excites you the most until your nailing fade-aways, breaking ankles, and dunking in the face of whatever held you back before.

Bench with a view of Buffalo, NY

I think something that can hold you back is simply the fact that it is so easy to limit yourself. It is simple, and almost more normal to just accept well enough. Get back in line, and wait your turn. Don't rock the boat. In order to stop the cycle, and get out of the loop, there needs to be some self motivation to get yourself out there. This could be on a very local level where you are getting the word out and networking your area. This could also simply be publishing a photo online. Sometimes all it takes are consistent steps in the direction of your choice before you turn around and see you've really gotten somewhere!

My eight year old is a handful. I really don't know why I would expect anything less, seeing how I was also one, and continue to fit that same description to this day. Like a lot of kids, he sees the world in an inspiring sort of way. Sometimes when we voice a typical parental worry, he responds with such a no-brainer, worry-free quip that you can't help but smile to yourself, wishing you still had that spunk. Today he even said "no way I'd let that bother me, I'm too high spirited."

Be more like my eight year old. Believe in yourself, your art, and your ability to get where you want. Stop listening to haters, naysayers, statistics, and sometimes self doubt.

A while back I came up with this: "Ignore the echo of doubt. It only grows louder if you listen."

Youngstown, NY sunset on Lake Ontario

It's a mantra meant to help yourself push through what might hold you back. I will often talk myself out of posting a favorite photo because I'm literally afraid people are on the other end going: "Oh wow, like we haven't already seen this one 20 times Mike..." It really isn't even rational, but nonetheless the fear exists. You need to be your own best friend sometimes that says "who cares?"

I hope someone will read this and feel inspired. There isn't a good enough reason in the world, not to go after your dreams.

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23 Comments

Rex Jones's picture

I love this one. Such a great read, Michael!

Michael B. Stuart's picture

Thanks so much Rex!

My sentiments exactly! This article was such a breath of fresh air. Thank you so much!

Yes.
The naysayers are a loud voice. But they are not a new group.
They have been around since the beginning of time... "you can't do that", "the market is dead", "too many people destroying the business"... yadda yadda yadda.

Truth is that there are people doing instead of complaining. Making instead of sitting on their collective asses in the cheap seats throwing insults toward the people in the arena actually accomplishing something.

It is sad, but simply a way of the world.

>> They have been around since the beginning of time... "you can't do that", "the market is dead", "too many people destroying the business"... yadda yadda yadda.<<

And they are often right. The only people who forget this are, frankly, nuts. Nuts concentrate on the successes and forget the failures. Like, off the top of my head, Germany trying twice to conquer the world. Tulip Mania. The Mississippi Bubble. French Ancien Regime for support of the American Revolution,which led to the regime's collapse. The Confederacy. The 8 out of 10 new businesses that fail - often because people rely on determination rather than calculating the odds.

>> Anything can be done with enough determination. <<

Really? So if everyone who wants to be a star photographer is determined enough, they all get to be? Even if there are several million?

Life doesn't work that way. Real courage isn't retreating to a childish fantasy world where wanting things enough guarantees that you get them. It's calculating the odds and risking failure if you decide it is worth it. Or of walking away from the dream because you have the courage not to mess your life up. Either path is courageous. Fantasies about "enough determination" are not. No amount of determination can guarantee success if talent isn't there - and even talent is useless without luck.

>> Many cases of successful people follow a similar pattern. They don't listen to people that try and hold them back, and they hustle their butt off. <<

And many cases of failure too. Do you understand how to actually construct a rational argument?

Michael B. Stuart's picture

Out of the several million your mentioning, the ones with enough determination would rise above the rest, so yes. I want just saying any determination.

>> Out of the several million your mentioning, the ones with enough determination would rise above the rest<<

This is stupid because it's cyclic. Ie if they don't rise then by definition they don't have enough determination. It's saying "If you eat enough pie, you'll go to Mars." It can never be disproved - you can always claim that the person need to eat more pie. But no one who should be allowed outside their house without a social worker would fail to realise its idiotic.

***What matters is whether increased determination past a reasonable level has a significant impact on your chances of success if you lack talent, luck, insider connections, financial resources.***

Very often it has none. You can be determined to the point of death to get something and still fail if the less determined competition has more talent and an inside track. You don't shoot fashion like Helmut Newton's or street like Daido Moriyama because you are determined - it takes other, much more subtle qualities, that determination can't create. And that they succeeded financially and made a living required the right historical moment. Newton would have stayed in Australia shooting thoroughly conventional portraits for a living if Vogue hadn't made him an offer; he wasn't determined to become a God-level fashion photographer at all costs. Quite possibly that was why he succeeded - the all-costs mentality may preclude the sort of sensitivity and thoughtfulness needed for his style of art.

And again, wtf is the point of telling millions of people to sacrifice everything and be super-determined if only one of them get the prize and the rest wreck their lives and get your "You should have eaten more PIE!" speech???

Samuel Flores Sanchez's picture

In my opinion and experience yes, that is the exact way in what the world works. But of course that if you think and feel differently, that is true too, is your true. Whether you think you can or you can't, you are always right.

Michael Kuszla's picture

I feel boosted man! Thanks a lot!

Michael B. Stuart's picture

Glad to hear!

Aha... Tell it to a wedding client whose day you've spoiled just because you believed you don't have to wait until you are "good enough"... :)

And to their lawyer - say it loudly so his voice recorder will pick it up.

Michael B. Stuart's picture

Very true, that client might not be too pleased. But as the photographer, you will have learned a valuable lesson otherwise missed by those afraid to try.

>> A budding basketball star might practice for five plus hours a day. Doing this will actually make them stand out from a crowd. This has a wonderful side effect of increasing their confidence, which leads to more success.<<

But this isn't going to help if you are 5-2. Or if you lack the genetic factors. For example, if you lack the right version of the ACTN3 gene you might as well forget being a sprinter. The people who succeed in life are those who assess talent and opportunity realistically and then apply determination appropriately.

To continue your example, what if that high school athlete can reach star level at high school but stands no chance of going pro, based on fundamentals he can't change? Should he try to do the impossible or cuts his 5 hours of practice back to 1 and work on actually getting a damn education instead? I'd say the later...

Michael B. Stuart's picture

Tyrone Curtis "Muggsy" Bogues: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muggsy_Bogues
5'3" NBA Player
And for the star high school player, they could continue a career in Europe if the NBA is too high level. Either way I'm just suggesting to not take every obstacle as a deal breaker.
Thanks for reading David!

Yes, but how many equally determined people failed so that you could give that one example? Again, intelligent reasoning seems to elude you.

(Also the example I gave was of a 5-2 player. Your supposed counter example of of someone taller than that...)

>> Either way I'm just suggesting to not take every obstacle as a deal breaker.

Wow - that is a revelation! Because all of us here were going to do exactly that... "I have to take off my lens cap - NOOO! GIVE UP!!!"

Michael B. Stuart's picture

I think you'd have a hard time finding someone as determined as the shortest player in NBA history. So I don't think any equally determined people failed.
I get what you're saying here Dave, it just doesn't change my beliefs or intended message.

>> I think you'd have a hard time finding someone as determined as the shortest player in NBA history <<

Then you've never visited a cancer ward or spoken to someone who saw combat in the infantry.

And also, why does that matter? Yes, the guy was determined - but he was still more than 5-2, you still haven't determined that he was the MOST determined guy, getting in an NBA team is still vastly more likely if you are tall...

That one short guy once got in a basketball team does not prove that determination bends space time. It just means that over decades of NBA recruitment that unlikely things will - very rarely- happen.

Or more succinctly, "Even in Gurren Lagann, Nia has to die."

Samuel Flores Sanchez's picture

Thanks!!!! This is inspiring !!!!

The thing that really makes me react so strongly against this article is the number of kids I see getting burned doing expensive creative degrees that will lead to nothing but debt for most of them - because something like ten or twenty times more people are going to film school than the industry can provide jobs for. If you apply Determinator Logic, then you'll mess up your life this way, because you'll believe success is certain if you are determined enough. So you go as deep into debt as you possibly can to take every opportunity, no matter what the odds.

And 19 times out of 20, you end up completely ****ed.

Determination is never enough. Don't mess your life up trying to do the impossible and paying a price you never reckoned. If you have a real shot and it matters enough to you then take it, but understand that failure is always a possibility and know what it will cost you.

Now, I doubt that the above is what the writer of the article meant - but it is what his words added up to. When you write stuff, you are responsible for the way that people will reasonably understand it. So be careful before you write marketing material for Full Sail "University".

Gilbert Kleinwechter's picture

Great article! I have been in need of a spark, a push to make me take the next steps. This will help!!