Tuesday, February 21, 2012

You and What Army?

"The View From Here"

I've been thinking lately about influences. And more specifically, who photographers, or artists, or anyone following a calling, surround themselves with. Who has your back? Who can you learn from? Who reminds you that there's more? Who reminds you to risk it? And who reminds you to use your head? That's like... an army of peers if you think about it. And all very valuable to you as you develop in your craft.

Here are the type of friends, peers, and mentors I have decided are invaluable to me as I decide where to take my photography next. My hope is that you have found these people to add to your posse too. And if not, what are you waiting for? Here's the list, in no particular order;

The Critical Eye: not every one's favorite type of influence depending on your own personality but suck it up anyways, cause they are the person who sees past your obvious talents and asks you if you're still growing, and if you're pushing yourself enough. They're the ones who will tell you honestly that an idea will bomb, that a photograph isn't working for you, or that your attitude needs to change. Sometimes thought of as more blunt than anything, these people truly have your best interests at heart. In a word, they're your champions. They're seeing the big picture and want you to truly succeed, not just live in the little victories of today. They are the ones that become your mentors. I have several in my life, and you know who you are... *wink, wink*

The Beacon: these are the peers that are the shining examples of where you want to be one day, and how to get there. And no, they don't have to be doing the same type of photography as you, or even be apart of the same vocation as you, but they are without a doubt some one you look up to. And here's the key... these are the same people who are so jazzed about the creative journey, that they love to share it. They'll share the process, the mistakes, the approaches that always work, and the new discoveries they make in their field. They're totally approachable, and are not above taking the "eager to learn" under their wing. I'm supremely grateful for the beacons in my life while I figure out this whole photog gig.

The Cheerleader: these friends are instant encouragement. When you're having the worst day ever, when you've failed to complete a new project, when you're struggling with a new concept, these people seem to know when and how to build you back up. They remind you that it's a long journey, that not everything you accomplish will be easy, and that you have to keep working because they believe in you that much. They're the ones that will surprise you with coffee (or hot chocolate in my case) when you're sounding overwhelmed, or will be that ear you can vent to at the drop of a hat. And they don't just appreciate your skills, they totally appreciate you as a person. Hearing from them always jump-starts my day big time.

The Partner In Crime: this person is the one person who feeds your appetite for your hobby or craft like no one else. They hop in the car with you on photo adventures without a second thought for hours on end, regardless of the weather. They will eagerly discuss the hidden gem of a photo op they stumbled upon one day while out running errands. They constantly send you links to new things to photograph, seminars to check out, or blogs to start following. They'll go with you to art shows, they'll join online communities with you. And they'll always drool over new gear the same way you do. I can think of one such person in particular right now. If you have more than one of these, all the better. But that's rare. These are the people that know how you think, and how you operate. They aren't in competition with you, and they are totally comfortable in their own skills. They know when nothing needs to be said, and they know that their opinions are more than welcome. I can't stress enough how valuable this type of relationship is!

That's just four types of people you need in your life as a photographer, or creative, or entrepreneur. There's many more, but these are the ones that ultimately stand out in my mind. I couldn't do what I do without any of them! Who do you have in your corner? Take this week to think about it, and to find some way to thank them.

Thanks for the ramble. Have a groovy day gang!