That’s just what I did recently when I had the chance to interview acclaimed photographer and Tether Tools Top Pro Jeremy Cowart. Like anyone familiar with Jeremy’s photography, I’m constantly in awe of his work. After reading his book I’m Possible: Jumping Into Fear & Discovering A Life Of Purpose, I now understand that the images we see only scratch the impact he’s had on our industry, his community and in communities around the globe.
The best part of the book wasn’t Jeremy’s story, but rather the not-so-secrets of his success which any of us can learn from to re-energize our work and life.
- Always have a support network. Creativity can be a lonely venture. Photographers bring vision to reality. Often there are a lot of adjustments to your camera settings, your workflow and in retouching the initial image before that vision comes into focus for others. The process can be exhausting, which is why it’s critical to have a cheering section that can support you and keep you energized about the idea, even when they can’t see it. And, it’s important to know that your support network, like life, will change and develop over time. It might be family, a friend, a mentor or even a small network of like-minded professionals. Look for where that network exists for you today and embrace it.
- Break the right rules. Creating break-through creative often requires altering commonly accepted perspectives. Jeremy shared that his personal philosophy isn’t to break all the rules, but simply the ones that limit creativity without reason. When you encounter that sort of rule, there is probably an opportunity to illuminate another perspective. That new perspective may bring about a big change in your life, your community or even the entire world.
- Pursue ideas rich with purpose. Purpose comes from passion. At Tether Tools, we’ve always been fueled by the importance that photos, and photographers, play in the world. As a result, we’re guided by the purpose of educating and empowering photographers with equipment that lets them create profound impact on people’s lives. Pursue those ideas which spark your personal passion. Chances are, you’ll find an audience that embraces it, and it can even result in commercial opportunity too.
- Find inspiration in frustration. Life includes its share of frustrations. For Jeremy, those frustrations aren’t limitations, but a new outlet for creativity. By seeing gaps or holes in situations, you can start to spot missed opportunities. Following that frustration and turning your creativity toward it can often help fix it for you and others.
- To go far, go together. Beyond your support network, the best ideas often do not come together on their own. If you find yourself pursuing ideas which have you moving through discomfort, find people who have skills and experience who can help you fill some gaps. The interview with Jeremy, and his book, are full of examples of where he leaned on the skills of others, in complement to his own, to produce amazing outcomes. From working with production crews to light large Hollywood sound stages for a network promo shoot, to getting the right help in navigating one of his most personal passion projects in The Purpose Hotel, the best outcomes are reached with others by your side.
- Tell stories. Cameras are powerful tools. Throughout his career, Jeremy Cowart has used his camera to give a voice to people to share their story with the world. People who’ve had their lives decimated by natural disasters. Former child soldiers. People who’ve lived witness to genocide. Newsmakers don’t always do their job in sharing the unbiased truth of the situation. But, imagemakers can capture and share that truth when they are using their camera to tell the story from the perspective of those who experienced it firsthand. That perspective can bring life into focus in many ways. It doesn’t have to be a humanitarian effort, just a human one. Whether it’s a wedding, a corporate event or a portrait, use your camera to capture your subject’s story.
- Failure & Forgiveness. People talk about failing forward. Photographers are known for taking creative risks. It’s part of the fun and fulfillment of the craft. Understanding that failure is part of life, it’s as important to forgive ourselves and others in those failures so we can fully move through them and overcome them. Failed ideas don’t equal bad ideas. Look at it from another angle – there’s always another way.
Have these seven takeaways sparked any inspiration with you? Get more by watching the full interview.