Forgive me for asking, but do you have a plan? If I know my readers' demographic I predict you make pictures, aspire to make pictures or just plain love pictures. A few of you that read me might be former students. But really, do you have a plan? Why have I asked the same question three times already? Because you should. Doesn't matter: early career, late career. No difference. Not just in photo or making art, by the way. You should have a plan for your life. An objective, something you want to make happen before the lights go out. You know, aspire towards something?
Goldfield Ghost Town, Arizona 2013
Take your pictures, for instance. Want them shown? How do you go about getting them shown? And at what level. The one person show at the Met in NYC? Or the bar down the street? Want sales? Want a gallery to show you and represent you? How do you think that works? Want to publish your work? Want someone else to publish your work? How about a plan? I wonder if you're so caught up in the day to day part of your busy life that you don't dream that much. Sometimes just putting one foot in front of the other seems like plenty for any given day. One day at a time.
Let's stop here for an instant. I am not trying to be antagonistic or for this post to be a baiting tactic but this is what separates the amateur from the professional. The pro makes his/her art as a discipline. The amateur fits it in there and waits for "inspiration". The pro usually doesn't wait for inspiration so much. The pro relies upon a constant output of creativity that is innate to his/her very being.
What do you do with a young creative genius or a child prodigy? You work them. You don't coddle them or treat them as special with their "gift". They learn discipline and focus and an "off the charts" work ethic. As an aside, one of my early lessons was in the late 70's when I started teaching at Harvard. It didn't take long to figure out that most of my students were smarter than I was. Of course, I knew things they didn't. Over thirty years later in the years before before I retired from teaching, students were surprised at my accessibility and humility. It was because of those early years at Harvard and a lesson well learned. I think it's why I tried to treat students with respect throughout my career.
Back to having a plan. Beyond the immediate objective, beyond whatever is right around the corner, what's the idea? Where do you want to get to? Simple enough. Clarity is good. The plan could be to lounge at the beach in the Exumas for all I care but chances are it won't work out unless you make it an objective.
Look. Art is hard. (I know I know: there are skeptics among you). It pulls from within and in order to sustain it the well must be deep. By about 24 years old I had found what it was that I would do. From then to now and beyond my job is to do what I do. My plan? It is to make work over all else. Yes there are and were things like a job, relationships, a kid, bills to pay, other career ladders to climb. But what ran constant was the work that I make. Still is.
What is your plan?
I wish you the very best with whatever your plan may be.