Work or Whine. A Rant.

In Life Is Short, Pep Talks, Rants and Sermons, VisionMongers by David129 Comments

Shooting sunset in the Maasai Mara, while a ranger keeps an eye out.
Photo credit: Regis Vincent.

When Nicole S. Young’s ebook on MicroStock came out last year on the Craft&Vision site, we caught some flack for “supporting the microstock model.” We were told how unfair the model is, how it’s going to put photographers out of business, and how irresponsible it was to put out a book that helps people navigate these waters, unfair as they are. Then I read some bits and pieces of woe about the state of journalism and the decline of print media. Then this morning I spent time reading the blog of Joe Konrath, also not a photographer, but a well-known self-publisher in the fiction world. The pieces came together.

In VisionMongers I said that our businesses should be an act of creativity as much as our photography is. I believe that more now than I did before. So, if you’ll indulge a rant/sermon, hear me out on something. This rant’ll get worse before it gets better, so read through to the end. I promise to try to end without completely shipwrecking this.

One of the currents I detect in the arguments against microstock, though this rant is not specifically about microstock, is the same one I think I’d get from a whiny teenager whose father won’t let him use the car, except in the business world there is no father and if you want a car, you have to buy it. No one is going to hand it to you, no one owes you anything, most especially not a business model that’s just like the so-called good old days. The good ol’ days never were. The world changes, it’s not easy, it’s not fair, but it’s the same playing field we’ve always played on. People whining about the unfairness of the microstock model, or __________________ (insert random unfairness here) have forgotten that if they are self-employed, they are the rainmakers. No one else. So bitch about the lack of rain or get out and pound the button on the cloud-seeder like a rented mule. The question is not: is it fair? The question is: how badly do you want it?

Yes, once upon a time you could wait for the phone to ring and someone would pay you $500 for a photograph of a plate of pasta. ChaChing! They would tell you how to shoot it, when to shoot it, and you’d do it with a stylist and art director hovering over you, making you wish you were photographing drooling kids against wooded backdrops in KMart instead. But now the phone doesn’t ring. So some photographers, wanting to spend their time creating instead of bitching, still shoot the pasta. And pizza. And, well, whatever the hell they want. No art directors. Few stylists. And no, no one writes them a cheque that takes 6-8 weeks to arrive after you’ve invoiced them twice. Instead, they post those photographs to a microstock site, and they make $1. But they make that dollar 500 times. Or 1000 times. Or they don’t make a penny because their photograph isn’t remotely as good as others available to the same market, and they have to go back and do it better, get a little more creative and make a photograph that hasn’t already been shot. Unfair? It’s the fairest it’s ever been – it’s fair because it relies on how good your work is and how hard you hustle. But let’s be honest, the business world isn’t about fair. It’s about responding to how the world functions, and the needs of the people in that world, and finding a market for what you offer within that world. The ones who meet this challenge in the most creative ways, and with the most amount of elbow grease are the ones who make it, not the ones whining over a latte in a Starbucks somewhere.

So why did I mention self-publishing? Because the world of publishing is changing the same way the world of photography is. Is there as much money to be made by authors? Absolutely! In fact, there’s more! But it’s different. The same is true of journalism. Things are changing. Is it easy? No. Is it fair? Does it matter? EVERYTHING is changing. It always has. It always will. If you are in business for yourself as a photographer, your job, as the CEO of You Inc., is to meet those changes head on, to navigate the rough waters and do it in a way you love, while not sinking the ship. No one promised you safe passage. No one owes you a waveless voyage. You will get “there” (wherever there is) not by how good your photographs are (there are a lot of amazing photographers out there, have you noticed?) but by how creatively you engage your market, and how hard you hustle. Read that again. If you are floundering, it’s not because you don’t have a better camera or the same 85/1.2L lens that that other, more successful, photographer on the other side of town, or the other side of the internet. It’s because you aren’t being as creative as you thought you were or you aren’t hustling. That’s a broad brush to paint with but I believe it with all my heart. Everything I’ve learned in business tells me that. Stop buying gear and start buying books about business and new media. (BTW, how good your art is matters tremendously, it’s just a different conversation about a different thing.)

Yes, things are changing. They always have. But you can either make the change or react to it. Either way you need to be creative. You can do two things with your time on this earth – play the cards you’re dealt with all the energy and conviction you can, or whine and moan about how lousy your cards are. But whining and moaning never once changed the cards in anyone’s hand. Yes, Detroit was decimated by the economy, and it was left in literal ruins. But it’s making a come back. Not because it sat there feeling sorry for itself (ok, some did, but they aren’t the ones making the comeback), but because they got creative. They stood up, dusted off the seat of their jeans and looked the situation square in the eye and said, “OK. Now what?” It’s hard work. It’ll take time. And if you don’t love that work, give up now.

The opportunities to make  a living doing something you love in the creative arts has never, ever, been like they are now. The same things causing the massive shift away from old models (insert whining) are the same forces allowing us these new opportunities (insert creativity and hard work). There are more opportunities to show and sell our work, whatever that is, to more people on this planet, than any photographer or artist has ever had in any previous generation on this planet. If you want to make a go of this, the time has never been better. Assuming one of the reasons you want to do this is to be creative, to sail your own ship, and to enjoy the journey. There is no path waiting for you. You have to make it. There are no charts for where we’re sailing to, these are unknown waters. No one promised us a safe passage, and anyone that thinks they’re owed one will never get there – not because the waters are rough but because time spent whining and feeling entitled is time wasted while others are creating new sails and patching holes in the boat so they can sail a few days longer, or a little faster. It’s not easy. If you want easy, you signed up for the wrong journey. But make no mistake about it, everyone is on a boat. You can sail your own, or you can work for another captain. The difference is merely in who makes the decisions, not how rough the water is. We all weather the same economic weather, and ride out the same waves of change in technology, history, etc.

I want to say “you can do it!” and be really encouraging. And some of you – no, many of you – can do it, and can do it brilliantly. But only you can decide how badly you want it, how hard you’re willing to work for it, how creative you’re willing to be to get it, and how wet you’re willing to become in order to get there. To get to the other shore you need to let go of the one you’re leaving, accept the unpredictability of winds and waves, and shout into the raging storm at times, “is that all you’ve got?!” and then pull the sails a little tighter. I wish I could tell you more. But all I’ve learned from my journey that universally applies, is that the journey is worth it, and that it’s often harder than we wish it were. You’ve got a handful of years to do your work, don’t you dare waste those moments whining instead of creating something amazing. Don’t leave a legacy of risk-aversion and “I wish I’d…” to your kids. Don’t settle for hours in front of a large screen TV when you can have a larger life. Don’t settle for watching great stories when you could spend your time living one. Whether you can or can’t, whether you do or don’t, is up to you.

Comments

  1. Kathleen

    “You’ve got a handful of years to do your work, don’t you dare waste those moments whining instead of creating something amazing.”- Love that!

    You make the best rants, David!

  2. Tom Hadley

    Wise words indeed David, just wanted to say thank you for the post.

    We can all do what we want with our lives. But most of the time we can’t do it exactly how we want. If that means selling photos for $1.00 a time on a microstock rather than preparing for a gallery exhibit, so be it! Bizarrely, most people seem to choose to not do what they really want, but do something else that allows them to control the “how” more easily.

    Thanks for prompting me to check whether what I’m doing is as good as it could be and making me as happy as it should or whether I’m settling for a path that’s just more convenient!

  3. Jan Kooreman

    A great story to convey once again that everyone should take responsibility for his/her own life. I couldn’t agree more.
    Let’s try and raise our kids in this style so that they take responsibility also and will not be dependent on others or institutions.

  4. Vittorio

    It reminds me another great creative genius,

    “Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith.. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart..”

    Thanks David, we should all think different and live our own life..

    Vittorio

  5. Milica

    I wonder, David, how often do you meditate? :) I admire your frankness and positive attitude.
    Although I don’t photograph as much as I write (unfortunately, not in english), you became my guru. Thank you for that!

  6. Author
    David

    Milica – I think that’s an interesting question. I think it would depend on what you mean by “meditate.” I don’t meditate in the eastern sense, not for that matter, do I think I “pray” in the western sense. But I believe that life needs to be lived intentionally, and to do that, for me, that means time spent re-calibrating. Sometimes that’s time spent quietly with a cup of tea or coffee, sometimes that’s time spent journaling, sometimes yoga (not so much of that lately), and sometimes just daydreaming.

    Anyways, thank you for the kind words. :-)

  7. Deborah Howard

    So you’re basically saying – grow up? :)

    Damn it – whining is so much easier than working, and has many more followers, so there is always company of like minded people!! :)

    Good rant, and as usual plenty to motivate. And I am living my larger story here in China – heading to Thailand next Sunday… life can be fantastic if you don’t sit and wait for someone else to run it for you.

  8. Cheryl

    Such an insightful “rant” (to use your phrase) – loved it! Beautifully written and an excellent message to each and every one of us. Life isn’t always easy, but your attitude will determine how hard the road ahead is or how smooth the ride.
    Thanks for the blog :-)

  9. Anna Epp

    Another fabulous post David! And this can apply to so many areas in life not just photography and publishing.

    Your future is up to you.

  10. Loren

    I completely agree that stock photography has its place. As a western hemisphere culture, photogs should be glad China and India have such different facial features/culture/architecture or we’d be seeing an even greater amount of stock material at rock bottom prices.

    I do think that in certain contexts, the use of stock photography needs to be disclosed. Not for advertising, but if an author is writing a first hand account, and the reader might assume the photo too was taken by the author or his staff/partners, I think there is something disingenuous about the material. If I see a photo credit that sites Getty or a microstock, then I at least know the sources.

    Good article!

  11. Beth

    Well said! I enjoy reading your post and your books which continue to inspire and pull me along my journey.
    Thank you!

  12. Chris Aram

    Amen. The same resources that have allowed me to move to a new city, get into wedding photography and more than triple my prices in the first two and a half years are … Guess what? They’re available to everyone else too. The Internet has leveled the playing field tremendously. Cameras evolve and make it increasingly difficult to take a bad (at least technically speaking) picture. The tools are better and better. Unfortunately for me, my competition has access to these same tools too. Aye, there’s the rub. 😉

    I sometimes lament to myself the fact that everyone and their mother is getting into wedding photography (or so it seems.) Then I remind myself that I have the opportunity to succeed in spite of these challenges. And sometimes I have a beer as well. 😉

    Well said as always David 😉

  13. Mike Padgett

    Your rant is solid advice. Reminds me of a Mark Twain quote: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

  14. Dezra Despain

    Throughout all of time only those who adapt to changes, whatever those changes happen to be, are the ones who survive. I have thought long and hard about this very thing and you so eloquently put it into words for me. Thank you!

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  16. Pete

    Awesome, very well written. That’s a real kick in the pants for anyone whining! I haven’t decided to leave the big ol boat I work on yet to sail my own but if I do I’ll reread this a number of times before and after doing so! Thanks.

  17. Terry McMillan

    Awesome post! It’s what I needed to hear and is the perfect example of why this blog is a daily stop for me. Thanks!

  18. Author
    David

    Thanks, Terry, for stopping in daily. Sorry I’ve not always had much to digest, but I’m hoping that’s about to change as I head out on the road again. Grateful for all my regular readers. :-)

  19. Valerie

    Brilliant! I was actually thinking of writing a rant this morning too, it’s very therapeutic! I read yours and I feel better already. Plus it gave me the boost I needed. THANK YOU!

  20. Sandra

    Ok, I’ll print this (after I’ve enlarged the last paragraph to 72pt ) at least 10 times and hang it onto my fridge, my wardrobe, my bathroom-mirror, my camera-bag… and everything else I see many times a day.
    It’s so much easier to whine than to actually work on my dream but it doesn’t take me anywhere, so thank you very much for the (now constant) reminder!

  21. Innes Ferguson

    Direct, insightful, challenging, amusing, and to the point. As always. Great article this one, David. Was it a rant? I guess so, but it’s one of the most practical and instructive articles I’ve seen in a while so keep ’em coming!

  22. Jim Caffrey

    I’ve had several careers in my six decades and in each of them I came to understand that there are the “doers” and there are the “whiners”. The “whiners” typically don’t stick around for very long.

  23. Steve C

    At the risk of sounding curmudgeonly, I too am very weary of the unfairness complaint. If someone steals your image, that’s unfair; if someone agrees to pay you and doesn’t, that’s unfair; if someone breaks a contractual agreement, that’s unfair. I have a hard time understanding how a changing marketplace is so often viewed as “unfair”. Unless I am somehow unaware of “forced labor” with regard to photography, this is a choice that each individual is free to make. No one is being forced to play the game, but if we do choose to play we need to do so with the knowledge that the rules will absolutely change at some point.

    Choosing not to play anymore can be a totally legitimate response if the rules change in a way that make the game undesirable or impractical. But please, let’s not say that it’s unfair.

  24. Darcy

    Thanks for writing this David. It has come at a time in which I really needed to hear it. With the economy what it is and my “day job” flailing to stay afloat my camera and adventure have been calling my name in the winds of change. Sometimes it’s hard to hear. Other times It’s hard to listen. It has my attention thanks to you. 😉

  25. Nicole Young

    Thanks for this post, David. I wouldn’t really say that the negative comments on my microstock eBook over on the C&V site affect me, but it’s definitely not a ray of sunshine when I look back on them. And, of course, I see people spouting crap about microstock all the time online. It gets old after a while.

    We all have reasons to complain about things, but it’s so much healthier and fulfilling to just move along and stop wasting energy on something negative. I know that I would definitely rather be shooting than bitching about how “other people/companies are ruining my business” in a forum somewhere :)

  26. Kathy B.

    Thanks for the post, and wow – your readers just keep driving it home in the comments. I can’t add any better or clever insights, but just wanted to take the time to say that I am gratefully inspired and encouraged to get my hustle on. Again. :-)

  27. Deb Uscilka

    Thank you! I got here because of Nicole Young and her G+ post. Your post has been PDF’d and will be reread often…whenever I need a kick in the pants!

  28. Eric Turner

    Excellent rant David, and great advice for all of us. We tend to forget it, complain, blame others, and generally avoid responsibility for our lot in life, but we are in charge of our destiny. (Being a sailor, I love the sailing metaphors too.)

  29. Bonnie

    Nothing remains the same and we must constantly be evolving in all facets of living. Thanks, David, for such a good piece!

  30. Linda Taylor

    All this from the Whiney-bear himself! However, my suggestion for the caption is “How I Kept the Monkeys from Ransacking My Tent”. Great rant, and of course, I love Regis’s photo of you. It was great traveling with you, Jeffrey and the rest of the group. I’ll never whine again (except when there’s no wine) or use the word ‘distracting’, EVER!

  31. Kevin Foster

    David, Thank you so much for this post! I really enjoy and inspired by your posts!

    Kevin
    –Change is inevitable, yet progress is a choice!

  32. Melissa

    thanks for the virtual kick in the butt this morning David. great post as always. I have to go now – I have things to do!! 😀

  33. Tom Kostes

    Not everyone wants to hear it, but the truth is the best medicine for what ails you.

    Good post, whining will never pay the rent……

  34. Vanessa Dewson

    Thanks for this! I’m currently reading Yousuf Karsh’s biography. Arguably one of the best portrait photographers of the 20th century and if you think he had it easy, in the ‘good ol’ days’, when there was less competition, think again. He was an immigrant and often treated like second-class citizen, he borrowed money and struggled to keep the doors of his first studio open. He worked his tail off photographing babies and brides until he hustled enough to get a chance to photograph the Governor General – and he was so nervous, he screwed up! Managed to get them back and produce a portrait that helped launch his career. The point being, you are right, the only way to make it, is to work hard and want it badly enough. No one has it easier than anyone else and ‘the good ol’ days’ is such a myth. It’s the whiners that will see new challenges as roadblocks rather than a puzzle to try and solve or a detour that might take you on an even more exciting path. Love being the captain of my ship, rough seas and all. :)

  35. Joel Zak

    Absolutely agree with your comments and perspective. As one who has been in the business for many years I have also seen how this industry (and those others) have fared as the changes have become more and more rapid. Reinvention is certainly the key…tiresome at times but often exhilarating and it sure beats the cubicle.

  36. Duncan Fawkes

    Great post David. Always seems like a truism when I write that lol!

    Let’s face it, we all get down, we all feel a bit disheartened about where we are and where we are going, and we’re all entitled to a little moan. But if it lasts more than a moment and becomes a whine then we do ourselves a great disservice. When you feel dispirited, remind yourself of that, dust yourself down and get on with it.

    Your words remind me of the Andre Gide quote, “Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”

    Good luck with your upcoming travels!

    Dunc, casting off his own bowline

  37. Lyle

    Awesome! Definitely something to print out and read and re-read in those moments when you are asking, “what the heck am I doing.”

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  39. Randy Romano

    David. Great to have one of your enthusiastic rants. Helps kick us in the pants and remind us just how short life is. Funny how your rants always happen at a similiar time in my life. Currently writing a speech on following your passions.

  40. Fernando

    Along a similar line, yesterday Bob Lefsetz said “The Internet is a washing machine that mixed up everything and we’ve yet to see exactly how it all dries out.”

    While I totally agree there’s no point in whining & the future may well be better than the past, it’s still painful to slowly watch the clothes dry.

  41. Jean-François

    «Don’t settle for hours in front of a large screen TV when you can have a larger life. Don’t settle for watching great stories when you could spend your time living one. Whether you can or can’t, whether you do or don’t, is up to you.»…when you point a finger at someone or something, how many fingers point at you?

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  43. Author
    David

    Jean-Francois, I’m not sure I get your meaning? Are you asking how much time I spend watching TV, or asking for clarification on whether I am walking the talk?

  44. Author
    David

    Thanks Andree – All the credit for that photograph goes to Regis who seemed happy to stay more behind the man with the gun than in front of him, it seems. :-)

  45. Ian Carter

    It’s not fair David, people like you are a threat to the psycho/pharmaceutical conglomerates. How are they to maintain their obscene profits when you tell people how to help themselves, for free? Thanks mate; please keep the rants coming and maybe we will all learn to see through the smoke and mirrors again.

  46. Jilske

    Wow, it was high time for another rant 😉

    Also believe you have to first know what you want and then go after it.

    But disagree with

    “The ones who meet this challenge in the most creative ways, and with the most amount of elbow grease are the ones who make it”

    Surely there’s photographers out there that are better than you, have worked harder than you, yet didn’t quite ‘make’ it.

    And there’s my gripe with that idea. Making it is not in the end result, but all in the journey. Just told another friend today:” The happiness is not in getting it, it’s in going after it.” And that should be enough for you, no matter what the outcome is. Or you’ll get tired of putting in the elbow grease and hit a wall (yes HIT it, don’t FALL OFF it 😉

  47. Andy Wilson

    Thanks David,

    Timely gist for the mill for me, though not photographically speaking

  48. Colleen

    You are just freaking AWESOME! I’ve missed you … And when you get anywhere near Texas I must look for you. Know great beer joints:-)

  49. Rob Oresteen

    David – great post as usual. Your mention of iStock brings a smile to my face, but for slightly different reasons, as you know. I probably was a little gruff with Ms. Young, but not for anything against the practice of microstock – just my specific experience with iStock.

    We have had a few discussions in a local thread on FB about Groupon – most of the not-very-busy photographers have complained that it has “de-valued” photography. But, last time I checked, there are national chains operating packages and specials for $49.00 or what ever and have been doing so since day one. Those are simply not your customers – move on. I never heard a booked, successful photographer complain about the “Deal” sites.

    Shooting for “free”. There are some against it. They think it de-values the market. However, a portfolio not only needs to be built, but continually added to, regardless of your subject matter. I have consistently garnered new cash business based on some of my free business.

  50. Stacey Newman

    I really enjoyed reading this post. How true, despite the fact that as I read it I could sense the rolling eyes of many ‘old pros’ who think they know better and are far too jaded for this kind of idealism.

    Cheers

  51. DaveB

    Work, Whine, Rant… or INSPIRE…
    You mention the changing world… an EXCELLENT BOOK on successful business was written by Jim Collins… in that book he reports on how a variety of companies went from Good to Great… and sustained that greatness over 25 years of practice, many facing incredible challenges… hence the title of the book is “Good to Great”… the bottom line is there are millions of good photographers, but to become great, there are steps that can be addressed that will allow great photographers to keep pace with our changing world… your inspiration (reframe your title) points us in that direction.

  52. Libby

    Good post David. I always enjoy your writing and philosophy as well as the eBooks. And as you read my reply, the microstockers are in their own little play forum still whining. Apparently you touched a raw nerve with some of them. I’ll stay here, thank you 😉

  53. Amryl Malek

    Inspiring and thought provoking. Your rants also applies to any kind of business or endeavors… you are the one, and the only one, that walk your path…

  54. Alex Hinds

    Nice post; you managed to make more talk on microstock worth reading! At the end of the day the market is what it is and it is up to each individual photographer, whatever their ‘professional’ status, to make what they choose to of it.

  55. Jens Stachowitz

    Well done, David. Business is no pony farm. Life isn´t either. Perhaps you did spent a great amount of time and words while preaching to those adults who try to find the responsibility for their own situation in others and not by themselves – a childish attitude. I would expect adults to have learned this lesson – feel responsible for your life – within adolescence.

    Hope you will enjoy your traveling through the USA!

  56. Author
    David

    Jens – Wouldn’t that be nice. Still, there will always be people who’d rather complain or post nasty things on forums than just go do the work. See you in Cologne, I hope. :-)

  57. Randy Romano

    I think all the whining and complaining that people do, instead of working and following their passions, can be represented by this Nelson Madela quote: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us.” Too often we are nervous of following our passions and where doing the work will take us.
    Thanks again David

  58. Pam

    I do so love the rants. Bang on, as usual. They leap off the page. It’s like I can feel your hands waving in the air (and whacking heads). Ixnay on the whining. It’s when I’m glad I can take out my hearing aids, bonus. Way to rant. Carry on, good man.

  59. Ted

    Thanks for the kick in the ass! We all need to wake up a little to take our personal dream and turn it into reallity

  60. Tyler Olson

    Great post. I think you hit close to home for a lit of whinners here :) if only we could see where the land on the other side was it would be easier to stear the boat. either way though, the adventure will always be exciting.

  61. Richard

    Excellent, David!!!
    Wihning about someone other has realized the dream that you ever had and don’t make happend is stupid. Everybody one who be an entrepreneur or self-managing artist knows the stormy water of business and is afraid of others to overwhelming him. But this is the life, it always was it and otherwise, it will be deadly boring!!!

    keep on, David

  62. Jean-François

    David, i think i need to clarify my last comment (post 71)!
    I tried to bring up the fact it will always be easy to blame others for what we don’t have but at the end, it’s up to us!
    When i point a finger at someone…there’s 3 fingers pointing at me!!!

    Next time, i’ll write in french :)

    Thanks for sharing your experience and knowledge!

  63. Varena T.

    Brilliant thinking! Brilliant writing! WOW! Sooooo many quoteables! I cannot conceive of ANYONE NOT BENEFITING from your “rant/sermon!” Blessings on your head for caring enough to say so and to say it all so very well! So are you available to share your work and observations in a high school/community assembly? I will be passing this link on regularly! THANK YOU

  64. Greg Vaughn

    I started off thinking this was another pro-microstock piece and I’m not a fan of that business model because it most definitely has impacted my own business. I glad I read the whole thing to find that it’s not really about microstock. One of your best rants ever, David.

  65. Sue Sheen

    Superb rant. Just what I needed to hear, at exactly the right time. Thanks for the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth!

  66. Mitford Fontaine

    David, that is the best response I’ve seen to the whine, ” It’s just not fair!” Thanks for the rant !

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  68. Subhash

    Work is always historic and collective. Whatever one does is build on the work of other people. Without them there would not be one single photograph and no photographer even. The own part is vanishing compared to the huge amount of common work in it. So, YOU cannot do very much.

    “Try harder” or the favorite question if “one wants it bad enough” (or is simply to lazy for success): do these not just fire up competition, the want and demand to be better than others and to get ones turn while others who do not push themselves that hard fall by the wayside. (Self-exploitation is just round the corner.) And how much means do you have got at all to make your effort? 100.000 inherited from daddy? Ah, very well, you can make it! Oh, no inheritance: Well, so you have to try yourself! Young and healthy? Born in a rich industrial country? Man or woman? Black or white?

    To me it would seem ridiculous to say generally: “YOU can make it”. Apparently some have the power and others not. And some can try as hard as they can and they have nothing or very little in their hands. Although if they make great photographs being blessed with talent and opportunity to unfold it.

    How many unsuccessful photographers are there per one successful? And is this success (as every other) not a collective, socially achieved and not at all an individually gained? Likewise disappointment?

    I understand that some will not like these words. They want to believe that they are the masters of the universe, the champions of photography. And I didn’t even touch the question of free will.

    We do not sit in our boat facing the same economic storm. The storm is not the same in Chile or in Germany for example. Furthermore some of us have racing yachts even for deep-sea, others rowboats and others air mattresses. Should the unsuccessful on the air mattresses not even complain much louder? Should they not scream that it is a fairy tail that everyone can make it? We do not live all on our own. The economic conditiones are not the same for all of us. How many man on earth can not even effort a camera?

    So. If I go out and make a wonderful photograph I am grateful for all the help I got. And I know that I did not made it: WE did.

    (Please do not get granular on my words. My English is not that good to express myself well enough on such a delicate and disputed theme. I hope you readers can understand anyhow …)

  69. David duChemin

    Subhash – Your english seems fine, no worries about my getting granular. And while I agree with almost all you said, i still think it comes down, no matter what our circumstances, to two options – do the work, and enjoy it, or sit and complain about circumstances. Whether we do or do not “make it” is not even the point, but I think there’s a better chance of success if we work than if we whine.

  70. Sophie Zografidou

    Your rants and sermons are the first things I reach out for to ease the nausea while finding my sea legs, David!! :)) They make my day!
    By the way, when are you coming to Melbourne??

  71. Subhash

    David,
    thanks for your reply. I think there is also – sometimes – maybe – a third option: work on the circumstances. And while “whine” sounds a little bit snidely to me one can carve out the terms and conditions and therefore it becomes possible to change them. I remember some sections in your books where you wrote that the time of the lonely wolf is gone. I wanted to highlight this again.

  72. Kit Chamberlain

    Lost track of your wanderings. Loved this blog. You could substitute our whole frigging government or maybe the state of the world and your rant would be a perfect read. Vermont is still waiting for you. XX

  73. Author
    David

    Subhash – Absolutely. There is a time for changing circumstances, but I’d include that as work. As far as the lone wolf, my notion of work is wide open, and includes all kinds of collaborative efforts. I do think, however, that changing circumstances is often so well beyond our control, that changing our response to those circumstances, getting creative about them, and working hard, is a more rewarding effort than trying, for example, to bring down the micro-stock model simply because it doesn’t work for us. Making a new model would be more fun. :-)

  74. DaniGirl

    “If you are floundering, it’s not because you don’t have a better camera or the same 85/1.2L lens that that other, more successful, photographer on the other side of town, or the other side of the internet. It’s because you aren’t being as creative as you thought you were or you aren’t hustling. ”

    Loved this! It applies not just to photography but to so much of life. Great post!

  75. Andrew Watkins

    If you find yourself in the Virginia mountains on your way around…feel free to stop by. I have a spot by the creek where your Jeep will fit nicely. You and I have a lot in common my friend, well, at least in the sense of how we view the world around us. Cheers!

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  78. Erin

    Nice Whining yourself. You use a lot of nice cliches too. The sad part of your whining about whining & your pep talk cliches is that you haven’t provided any proof of your cliched Rah Rah statements as being fact.

    Photographers aren’t whining, they’re having a conversation, trying to figure out things for THEIR particular situations. YOUR way doesn’t work for everyone, neither does theirs.

    So it doesn’t help to be criticising people for communicating their feelings, experiences & to be learning from each other, when THEY are ready to learn & move on or not, not when YOU are ready, or others are ready.

    The problem with one size fits all rants like yours, is that everyone is different in terms of knowledge, ability, experience, intelligence, health (physical & mental health), circumstances, finances, dependants & on & on.

    Have some compassion & empathy vs. vitriol for those that you do not have patience for.

  79. Author
    David

    Erin – You must be new around here. You’re welcome to stay but I suggest taking this in context. Your presumption isn’t nearly as compassionate and empathetic as you seem to think it is. This is a community of close-knit photographers who know me, my history, and my own biography. As a newcomer it behooves you to approach it with some humility until you know the context in which I write. This isn’t the New York Times, it’s my blog, to which you are more than welcome, but it’s a little like my living room. Walking in and telling me how to best conduct myself in my home, is neither kind nor normal, except on the internet, apparently. If you don’t care for my brand of writing, there’s a world of blogs to explore, some of it free from cliche and pep talks. Thanks for coming. If I can actually serve you, or listen to your story, let me know. You sound upset. But if all you want is to vent, there are better places. Like, for example, a blog of your own.

    Sorry if this sounds like I don’t take criticism well, but I take criticism from those I know, those I trust, and those who have taken the time to read me in context. That context is this blog and the community to whom I write. You’re welcome here, as are other photographers trying to find their way, as I am, but if my way isn’t for you, don’t bitch at me.

  80. Stuart Sipahigil

    David, I think the three most important words (well, four actually) in your rant are “It’ll take time.” So many times we are trying to find the quick and easy answer to something that’s taken a long time to happen. It’s the “lose weight fast” syndrome, when it’s taken you 20 years to put it on. Why do we think it can be fixed in just a few weeks or months? I think a lot of people ignore or deny change until the last minute and then try to scramble to find a quick answer to make up for it. When they can’t, then they hit the “It’s unfair” circuit.

    It is hard work. It does take time. Not only to get it done, but to figure out what we need to do in the first place. Things change a lot slower than we think they do. Many times we’re just not paying attention.

  81. Krysalis Photography

    Nice post David and thought provoking. The industry is in an interesting place and you’re right it’s up to us how we choose deal with this – I say bring it on 😉

  82. Author
    David

    Me too, Krysalis, me too. “Bring it on” is about the best reply I can think of. :-)

  83. Jo Blackwell

    I’m so glad I stumbled upon this rant today – it came at just the right time for me and stopped me from giving up on the day and turning on the TV! It’s hard to keep the energy up sometimes though, isn’t it?

  84. Richard Furhoff

    I’m a bit of a late comer to this thread but sometimes you stumble on exactly the right words at exactly the right time. I just left a mind numbing catalog photography job and would never go back for quids. Sure it was secure and “easy” but it was so damn soulless. Hustling now and learning so much, feeling so inspired. My dad taught me, “No one else is gonna make you rich.” It kind of resonates….

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