A Lesson Learned From Kung Fu Panda About Being a Successful Photographer

by Eric Von Lehmden | October 9, 2014

The first time I held a camera in my hands I knew somehow that it belonged there. Since that time I knew I found my passion. About 15 years ago I went full time with this passion, taking photos and trying to become successful doing it.

For a long time I struggled with the idea of what a successful photographer should look like? Every industry has their stars and at first I thought that was the pinnacle of success for a wedding / portrait photographer. To be a "rock star" well known photographer in the industry. Or was it money…was making a ton of money being a photographer the ultimate success.

I found out I wasn’t alone. From chat forums to photography group meetings it seemed like the undertone was how do I become a successful photographer.

Maybe if I had this camera or this lens I would get more business and my photography would get even better…then I would be successful.

Maybe if I went to this seminar or week long workshop. I would be inspired to do something great or learned that there was a secret to learn…then I would be successful.

Maybe if I had a different website, or knew the right people, or had that one piece of gear no one else had…then I would be successful.

These are all things I heard and even found myself thinking. Trying to search for that golden key or holy grail that would anoint me as a successful photographer.

Then I had a moment of clarity. Why am I trying to chase someone else’s version of success. I had to find my own version of success. What did I want to accomplish and how was I going to get there.

Enter Kung Fu Panda and the fantastic bit of wisdom Po laid on all of us. "There is no secret ingredient. It’s just you." Did you get that last part? It’s just you.

Yes! Exactly! Bingo! It is up to me. It is up to me to determine what my success is and it is up to me…only me to achieve that success.

Soooo how do go about doing that?

Set goals and get to work achieving those goals. Start small and then progressively set bigger and bigger goals. Put a time frame of when you want to achieve each goal you set for yourself. You have to put in the work though. It is great to set goals then watch them wither away as you do nothing to try to attain them. That’s what is so profound about Po’s wisdom.

 

There is no secret ingredient.

 

Another way to put that is…there are no shortcuts. There is not an overnight solution. Rather than wishing for all of those "maybes" to come true I have to work with what I have, work on a vision, work on the craft, and learn as much as possible while doing it. Kung Fu Panda taught me I have to work at my goals to get to that success I have defined for myself. I think that applies to anyone in the photography profession.

 

I wish you all the best on your journey!

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Tips-n-Tricks #184

Thanksgiving day is a busy day. The best time to get a group shot of the whole family is usually about 30 minutes before the meal is served. Pick you spot and be ready to go. Announce to everyone that you will be doing a group shot in "X" minutes. Be sure to check with the cooks to see if that time is good with them.


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