REWork – Ignore the Real World

I recently became part of a small book club, where we submit book titles, vote and then read/discuss the winning book. I joined as the current book for this review had already been chosen: REWork. I have mentioned this book before, because I have already read it and highly recommend it.

Needless to say I am happy to read it again and would like to share some insights from the book that specifically relates to photography and the business of photography.

Chapter 1: Ignore the Real World
“That would never work in the real world.” You hear this when people balk at a new idea. I experienced this when starting as a wedding photographer. I expressed my “lack of love” for traditional wedding photography, and decided to approach it from a documentary perspective. I was told:

That will never work here in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh is a traditional market and people want traditional wedding photography.

My thought was: “If I can’t shoot the way I want, then I just won’t do it.” That was in 2005. 2010 is here and people still hire me for documentary wedding photography. I ignored the real world 🙂.

The real world seems to be filled with despair and negativity. Actually “seems” is a kind word in this case. There is so much pessimism in the real world when people have new ideas and goals. Why? Is it easier for people to blend in and do the same old thing? Where is the joy in that? Who are you really helping with this mentality? Certainly not your clients or your heart.

Step out and create your own world. Just because everyone else is living in the real world, does not mean you have to. In the words of Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hanson:

The real world is not a place, it’s an excuse.

I love that quote. If you are deciding do create something with your photography, whether it be a business or a hobby, Ignore the Real World and Create Your Own.

Personally for me (as it pertains to the Wedding side of my business) here are some filters/guidelines/guardrails that I enforce to keep my Vision clear:

  • Limit viewing other wedding photographer’s work
  • Do not purchase “looks” (usually in the form of presets and actions) for my photographs
  • It’s not about me, its about the people I am photographing
  • Good gear is nice, but knowing how to use it trumps the goodness of it
  • I only need to be a rockstar for the 7 mouths that I feed 🙂

What are some of your ilters/guidelines/guardrails that keep your vision clear?

Comments 2

  1. I love those quotes! I totally agree that people use the “real world” as an excuse. If the “real world” has so many limitations, then I don’t want to live in it; I’ll create my own world! ……I have actually made the conscious effort to stop looking at other people’s work and to just focus on what I envision in my own mind. I think it’s helped me a lot-Instead of “challenging” or comparing myself against other people’s work, I challenge myself against myself. Another guideline I use for every shoot, especially portraits where we have a lot of time, is to laugh with my client and make it feel like we’re just hanging out. I feel it makes my client feel like they don’t need to “pose” and they can just be themselves. We build rapport quickly that way, and I end up truly enjoying their company. –Thanks for posting this David! It’s really nice to read this type of post… =)

  2. I agree with most of what you said, David, but I have to say without knowing where we’ve been, how do you know where you’re going? I am constantly looking at other photographers work — not to copy or emulate but to inspire. That said, I don’t look at much modern wedding photography, rather, I look at historical imagery, documentary studies and portraiture, both modern and classical, especially classical.

    Maybe I’m an odd ball, but after doing this job every day for 35 years I still wake up excited and overjoyed to be doing something I love. I keep my excitement at a fever pitch by constantly looking, seeing and exploring life and the world around me. When something starts to feel “old” I change it up. As a visual artist you have to constantly be inspired to stay at the top of your game. Inspiration comes in many forms and from many sources.

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