Tuesday, November 17, 2009
The Practice of Aikido In Photography
Until recently I used to practice the martial art of Aikido. While I gave up the physical practice of Aikido (bad knees, etc.), I am still finding it a great practice in my life and business. In Aikido you blend with your opponent or attacker and then redirect their energy away from you. You are responsible both for protecting yourself as well as for the safety of your attacker. It is bad karma for you if you either allow someone to hurt you, or if you injure them. For me, the true power of Aikido is not so much in throwing people (and being thrown) in the dojo, but rather the practice of Aikido in everyday life and, in my case, in my photography career.
A Universal Law With Stock Photographers
I will be getting my Getty sales report in a couple of days, and I was thinking about how when the report is good I get fired up to make more images, and when it is not so good I get discouraged. This seems to be pretty much a universal law with the stock photographers I know and talk to, and the last thing any of us can afford to do in this market is get discouraged. All of us, no matter how accomplished, are going to have those moments of negative energy that we must rise above in order to reach continuing success.
Redirecting Energy Into Creativity And Productivity
As I mentioned before, in Aikido, we are taught to utilize an attacker's energy against that attacker by redirecting it. Rather than get bowled over by a bad sales report, an unfavorable edit, or a difficult shoot, I want to be able to redirect that hit of energy into creative and productive activities. This largely amounts to awareness and intention. I maintain awareness of my tendencies and I keep the intention of what I want to accomplish. I want to stay positive, to keep my energy high, and flowing in productive directions.
Awareness, Intention And A Plan
When I get those negative energy hits it helps me to have a plan to fall back on. A plan allows me to avoid indecision about what I should be doing and be sure that my energy is directed towards what is important to advance my career. Awareness helps me know what to expect, intention gets me moving, and a plan allows me to move efficiently into my next step.
Be A Conductor Orchestrating Energy
In Aikido the goal is not to resist energy but to flow with it. In this time of transformation for the photography industry it makes far more sense to flow with the forces of change than to resist a power that is so much stronger than we are. Let that energy propel you into new ways to succeed. Another visual metaphor for this approach is that of a conductor who orchestrates the energy rather than trying oppose it. But whatever the visual or the metaphor, the important point is that while we cannot dictate what is going on around us, we can choose how we react and deal with those forces. For me, keeping the principles of Aikido in mind, and having a plan, helps me to do just that.