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The Best Photography Advice I Got Last Year
Don’t f*ck it up
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Advice is an interesting thing because you have to be ready to receive the message for it to really work. I’d argue that this is far more important than the advice itself. What makes this even stranger is that you may not even know when you’re ready to receive the message.
But when that moment hits, where it almost feels like divine intervention—the right advice and the right state of mind—it can make for a powerful accelerant in your creative journey.
That’s exactly what happened to me in early 2022.
When it comes to canvas backdrops, Sarah Oliphant and her team at Oliphant Studio are absolute masters that, if you’re asking me, sit at the top of the craft. There’s a reason why many of the world’s best photographers look to her hand-painted backdrops for their work.
It was my friend Jason that introduced me to Sarah’s work many years ago and in 2022, we’d get a chance to stop by her studio to pick up some backdrops of my own. What I didn’t expect was some actual face time with Sarah herself.
Though Jason and Sarah already knew each other, getting a moment to speak with her was a complete surprise. She’s a busy woman! But you know what, she was incredibly generous to us with her time and in between the stories and laughs, she would talk about the importance of the next generation moving photography forward. The responsibility we have to keep the art alive and thriving. To make sure we don’t f*ck up what we have.
She was wholehearted in her words. I couldn’t help but feel fired up to get back in the studio. We wrapped our conversation, I secured my backdrops, and on the way out Sarah would grab the door. With one last hug and goodbye, she said something that continues to inspire me today:
“Don’t f*ck it up.”
It was the right advice at the right time.
I had picked up these backdrops to move my photography forward but with these parting words, I felt this immense moment of clarity where everything felt like it made sense. Photography has to come first, and I need to make sure I put everything I possibly could into it.
So, why am I sharing this with you? If you have aspirations of making photography your livelihood, you owe it to the craft to bring your absolute best in an effort to move it forward. You need to sweat the details, toil over every decision, and treat it as one of the highest priorities. Most people don’t have this luxury. This beautiful, stress-inducing, enthralling, unforgiving luxury of photographing for a living. It’s a craft that really separates the wheat from the chaff.
It’s easy to get distracted by all the noise around photography: likes, engagement, growth, etc. It’s something that can suck you in and trap you; stifling your ability to get back to working on what’s important. It’s critical to identify these moments so that we can recognize how it devalues our time. Recognize these moments so that we can remember that important work we need to do because of the opportunity we have. The opportunity to create our best work yet.
So instead of the unnecessary rumination of why your work isn’t getting enough notoriety or how your audience isn’t where you want it to be, put your attention on how you can take what you do have and build the best piece you can.
You have everything you need. Don’t f*ck it up.
August Contest: Last Call!
For August, I’ll be giving away the MagSafe Filmmaker Kit from Moment. This is a cool little package that can help you capture great footage with your iPhone, even if it is to just level up your social content.
How am I picking the winner? All you have to do to enter is Like, Comment, or Restack this post. That’s it. Oh, and if you do all three, you get a bonus entry. As with every contest, I’ll be randomly picking one person, confirming they meet the requirements and then contacting them directly before announcing the winner publicly.
Once again, this contest is void where prohibited by law. Good luck!
My thanks to the team at Moment! Not only for this contest but for being the longest supporter of my work online. They’re a lean team of passionate creators that truly believe in supporting other creators on their journey. Whether it’s a new camera, lens, workshop, or just some great articles, visit ShopMoment.com today.
Reader Question: Any podcasts you’d recommend?
It’s only the middle of August but I already feel like the year coming to a close. That’s largely because of all projects and travel I have scheduled for the upcoming months. This year, I decided to delay any personal YouTube videos I had to in an effort to prioritize the important work. This newsletter and community is part of the important work that won’t be delayed. I’m looking forward to sharing all the exciting stuff I’ll be working on in the weeks to come.
But until then, that’s enough for one week. Appreciate all of you taking the time to read this. Make sure to put some reps on that camera this week. It misses you.
See ya next time!
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