Saturday, November 24, 2012

Fear and Motivation In Photography

The concept of business gloom and doom, and potential failure, is illustrated by this photo of a woman working in her office while vultures sit above her on the cubicle walls.
Fear can be healthy if you harness the energy for motivation rather than letting it freeze you into inaction.

Tech Developments and Fear
I just watched an interview with Marc Andreesson in which he said (my paraphrasing) that all CEOs are scared…scared of the possibility that the next tech development will render their companies obsolete. Hmmm, sound familiar? I don’t think it is a bad time to be scared right now either. I use that fear as a motivator to keep my productivity high and to keep asking what it is that I am not seeing…and where my particular skill sets can work to my advantage. The skill sets I refer to are in the field of photography, and stock photography in particular. And as any photographer ought to know by now, there is plenty to be scared of!

Fear, Paralysis and Complacency
Fear is a fine line to walk. Too much fear can paralyze you into inaction and have you hiding your head in the sand. Not enough fear might lead to complacency and the slow death of your business.  I use fear to keep setting my goals to a sufficiently high level. What is a sufficiently high level? One in which significant progress is made by attempting to reach the goal, but also in a goal that is perhaps just a bit beyond one’s reach. If you are always achieving your goals then you are probably setting them too low. Sheryl Sandberg (again my paraphrasing) pointed out, in the same interview, that many companies reach goal after goal until they are no longer in business.

Blend Images and Impossible Goals
Way back in time, about eight years ago, I was invited to help found Blend Images. In addition to putting up our initial round of funding, we were also required to commit to upload 1500 images…I think it was over a period of five or six months. Whatever it was, at the time I had produced something like 200 stock photos in about a decade. 1500 images in that short a period just boggled my mind. I almost didn’t participate in the Blend effort for that reason…it seemed like far too ambitious a goal for me. Thanks largely to Trinette Reed and Shalom Ormsby I went for it. The rest, as they say, is history. I managed to come up with the necessary imagery…largely be enlisting the help of some additional shooters.

Re-examining Goals
Earlier this year I set the goal of creating an average of 4 concept stock images per week.  That too seemed like an impossible goal, and yet to my amazement, I am reaching that goal.  It isn’t easy, but I am doing it. If I had set the goal lower I don’t think I would be producing as much imagery either. Should I reset my goal higher? Not ready to do that yet but I will certainly be re-examining all of my goals at the end of the year.

Fear, Motivation and Productivity
Getting back to that fear for a moment, fear produces energy. Put that energy to good use by using it to motivate you to try new things, to keep learning as much as you can about our industry and where it is headed, and to keep producing more and better imagery.   


Anonymous said...

Hi John: I'm a stock photographer with Getty and was wondering if any of the founders of Blend are looking to sell their share in the company. Has that happened ever? I would be interested if any founders sell their interests. Thanks!

John Lund said...


It did happen once. I think if it came up again Blend itself might buy the shares...but you never know!


Anonymous said...

Thanks John: If any founders sell their shares of Blend (as the one time in the past), please post, and I will contact you. I'm an active stock shooter (and have a contract with Getty).

Anonymous said...

John: I miss your blogs, haven't had an entry in a month?

John Lund said...

Okay,okay...working on one now...should be up in a day or so....