A have another passion … listening to music … on vinyl records. That’s right. And I am a tube lover too! Probably not surprising that I don’t own a CD player either. Hum … black and white film photography, vinyl and tubes. Perhaps there’s a pattern here! Well in any case I was driving in my car on a recent Sunday. I had decided to blow much of the day by going to a camera show located an hour and a half away at a small fire hall in Jersey, not far from NYC, and then completely in the other direction to a used record store near Camden, just over the Ben Franklin bridge from Philly. Makes sense … right?

Both pretty much ended up being duds and I used up well over a half a tank of gas, not to mention all the tolls I paid.   But it turned out that there was a silver lining in of this running around. Flicking through the channels on the car radio I happened on an NPR broadcast that focused on subjects covered by the always interesting and sometimes-profound TED Talks. The subject of this particular show was Success. The host was interviewing several very successful guests and played portions of TED Talks they had given related to the topic.

So things worked out well. I was able to listen to most of the show in between stops and I think I was able to grab some very useful snippets that are relevant to photography and life in general. Here are a few that I foolishly jotted down on my note pad while driving (something I don’t recommend others do!)

First, it is essential to discover what you are passionate about, find out what you need to do in order to make that happen and never settle for something less.

Second, grit is the willingness to complete long-term goals. It requires perseverance, the determination not to give up despite setbacks, and the drive to finish what you begin.

Finally, one of the guests brought up the matter of envy, as something many have when confronted by others (like you) having more talent, vision and drive then they possess. In other words, they are jealous and view you as a threat to their own situation or standing, or just don’t want to be of any help. Sound familiar? I never had thought about this particular point, but once I heard it and let it sink in for awhile, it dawned on me how often it had manifested itself with others I had come in contact with in my professional and photographic lives.

So what does this have to do with success, our endeavors to be creative photographers and our desire to express ourselves in meaningful ways? Everything!

First of all, we need to assume that there are many who we will come in contact with that unwilling to find the time of day to give helpful advise and support or just will not do it because in some strange way you are jeopardizing their position or standing. They don’t want you to be successful or they just don’t want to help you in any meaningful way. The result is the same. But, don’t worry; most of those folks are useless anyway. Keep working. Find the unselfish few out there that truly want to share their knowledge and pay it forward with the advice they once were given. Great people are not selfish or threatened by others. And they are willing take a moment when asked. Go out of your way to find them and nurture those relationships. Having them will support your success.

But in the end, to be successful in our photographic lives – by those measures that really matter us – we need to discover what we are passionate about and not let roadblocks thrown up by others, or those we create ourselves … like failing to learning our craft, settling for less, or just not finding the time to go out and make photographs … get in the way of achieving our goals.

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