Archive for '• Philosophy':

Call To Action :: "When I play pretend, I'm an ambitious person…"

August 24, 2009 | • Philosophy • Resources


If you are just coming to this blog post without seeing all of the blog posts that have led up to it then let me bring you up to speed.

• I made this video in February for a guest blog spot on Scott Kelby’s blog.

• A few weeks ago a dude named B. wrote to me and I answered him on this blog. That post set off quite a discussion in the comments.

• Then a door to door salesman showed up that same day. I interviewed him and made a short video. That led to more discussion. That video was viewed over 12,000 times in one week.

People wanted to buy this man’s soap so we sold virtual bottles of his soap on the blog. People were so motivated and moved by him they bought $6,000 of this virtual soap.

• I realized I need to sell soap instead of photographs. :)

• Last Monday I had a post about motivation.

That brings us to today’s blog post. First I’ll share how I’ve been motivated by all of this.

In preparing for this blog post I was searching my archives for some sort of image to open the post with. I never make a blog post without starting with an image of some sort. I twittered yesterday that I was going to make this blog post and here it is 10pm and the post still isn’t up. I wanted it up at 10am but I couldn’t find the right image. That’s my story. If it can’t be right then I won’t do it. So instead of trying to find the right image or go make a video you get helvetica in 36 points. Not having everything “just right” should not stop me from going ahead and getting something done.

Another reason this wasn’t up at 10am is because my awesome wife, Meghan, kicked me out of the bed this morning and we went to the gym. I have to lose about 40 pounds. Been talking and thinking about losing weight for a long long long time. No more thinking about it. Now I have to do it. So instead of blogging I was jogging. Or elipticallying to be more precise. For. A. Whole. Ten. Minutes. But that’s ten more minutes than I did yesterday (you see… that’s a joke because I haven’t exercised in years).

Meg has also been on me for as long as we’ve been together to write the stuff in my head down on paper or, preferably, white boards. I finally got off my rear a few weeks ago and put white boards up. Then I started writing stuff down on them. Goals. Ideas. Concepts. Things to do. Etc. It looks like this…


I wanted to chart out the process of how a client is moved through our studio. From phone call to thank you card. [confession] I never send thank you cards. [/confession]. But I want to! I really do! I just never do. Once the job is delivered I’m off to the next thing which is always two steps behind from where that next thing is supposed to be. The last six years of my career has been a constant game of catch up. Well… no more. I’m getting my $!&^ together. All of this discussion on the blog is helping motivate me. This is the first time I’m actually getting the chaos in my head organized visually in front of me. First time! Meg is one part happy that I’m finally doing it and one part pissed off because she wonders why I took so long.

Note how small the actual taking pictures part of the process is. That chart above is the big picture. Every line item is associated with another meeting and another whiteboard filled with stuff. It’s amazing how writing stuff down actually works! If only I had known of it earlier! (cue Meg’s fist slamming into my arm.)

Ok… so we are motivated. That’s all fine and dandy but motivation without action is… not good stuff. Motivation without action is… some great sports metaphor. I don’t know.

Last week I asked you to think about stuff. Some of you just went from thinking about stuff to doing stuff in about zero seconds. Well done! Some of you need a push off the dock so I’m here to say that all of your fears and anxiety are getting old and it’s time you learn to swim whether you like it or not. You might be right back on your dock in about two seconds but damn it, you are getting in the water… over your head. Drenched. Your excuses for not doing something are now void of having any real meaning.

Here is what I want us to do ::

Serve someone with our cameras.

This week you are going to think about how you can do this. You are going to find a person, a family, a ministry, an organization, a place, a shelter, a movement, a something that needs pictures. These pictures are needed for advocacy or fund raising or simply giving portraits to people who can’t afford even the cheapest of the Wal-Mart packages. Follow what Jeremy Cowart is doing with his Help-Portrait project as an idea.

You are going to do this for zero money so that pressure is off of you. Attaching dollars to photos can be stressful so just take the money part out of the picture. You are also doing this on your own time with whatever skill/talent/gear you have and you aren’t going to get all anal about how good it will be because chances are you will find some people who will love your work because if you don’t photograph for them NOBODY will. Any picture is going to be a good picture at this point.

“But I’m not good enough yet.”

The only person who cares about that statement is you so go ahead and build a bridge so you can get over it. :p

Week of August 31st – You have now identified a few families, organizations, ministries, etc that you think could use some of your picture taking skills. You start emailing, calling, knocking on doors. You have seven days to get yourself and your camera in the door and pitch your service. Not everyone will need you. Some will reject free stuff! Who cares? Move. On. Dot. Org. with it and knock on the next door.

Week of September 7th – You have this week to get your schedule figured out and get some sort of service job on the books. I don’t care if you have a day job and 14 million kids. If you are so tied up in stress and anxiety about your passion for this craft AND you aren’t doing anything about it then your job is suffering and your 14 million kids are suffering because while you may be present in person your mind is kept busy thinking about all the photo stuff you aren’t doing.

Just tell the kiddos that “Mommy/Daddy needs to follow her/his heart for at least one day before Mommy/Daddy implodes.” A happy Mommy/Daddy makes for a happy house. If your job sucks a$$ you can make it through the day knowing that you have a project that has purpose and meaning tied to it unlike the TPS reports you are filing. Your kids can say one of two things when they grow up…

“I watched my Mom/Dad be miserable.”

“I watched my Mom/Dad serve people with what they had.”

Pick one.

This isn’t just a self serving “I need to make $50, $100, $200 shooting portraits of middle class families in the park” kind of project. It is something that serves someone or a group of people in need of being served. Keep that in mind… You are going to use your camera to “serve” someone so you can stop staring into your own damn naval because at the end of the day, this project isn’t about you. I mean, it sort of is about you but it isn’t at the same time. You need to get off your butt and do something but the “you” part of this will soon fade when you see what you are doing for others.

Week of September 14th – September 30th – Get the job done, edited, and delivered. You only get a pass if the project you are now pursuing can only be best served in a timeframe that doesn’t meet this deadline. If you have someone or some group on the line for a project but it has to be shot at X date then you are doing fine. But that’s your only pass.

October 1st – I’ll blog about what I’ve been doing along this same time table. Many of you will talk about what you have been doing to serve your community with your camera. Some of you will be kicking yourself in your ass because, once again, like always, as per usual, like you do, you got motivated and said “Yes!!! I’m going to do that!!!” and you won’t. Tsk. Tsk. If that is you then you need to hear this…

I spent about four hours with Derrick on Saturday and, as Derrick does, he said all sorts of amazing things. One great thing was this…

“You have to believe that your life has meaning and purpose BEFORE you see that it does. If you believe it then you will be doing the right things, and saying the right things, and putting yourself in the right situations to see that your life has meaning and purpose but if you HAVE to believe it before you SEE it.”

That’s a paraphrase. He said it a lot better.

IF you are standing on a dock and you don’t know how to jump… Don’t quit your job or anything crazy right now. Turn off your television after work and find someone to serve with your camera. You have until October 1st to get it done. No whining or complaining. Just go effing do it. I’m going to be right there with ya doing something too.


Cheers, Zack

PS – I’ve been having some amazing email volleys with B. The post title of “When I play pretend, I’m an ambitious person…” came from one of his emails. He’s a funny dude who has more talent than he thinks he has. He’s had a back log of stuff he has promised people he would do so he can be free to work on his own projects. He’s getting that done now. You may need to do that as well. You have 72 hours to get it done. Might need to make some coffee tonight.

PPS – Derrick can’t even begin to thank everyone. More to come on that.

PPPS – Don’t come around here asking how to approach someone for this project because you aren’t going to get any help beyond this point. Many of you reading this blog want to turn this passion for photography into a career option if you haven’t already. The community at large is here to help but there are some things you just have to figure out on your own. Like identifying markets, clients, needs and then figuring out how you are going to connect with those markets, clients, and needs. You can’t have your hand held through the entire process.

Consider yourself pushed. It’s up to you for the next 30 days. Go change some lives… including your own.

Momentum :: What are you going to do with it?

August 17, 2009 | • Philosophy • Resources


It’s Monday and we are getting back into life. Last week’s series of blog posts really stirred a pot of emotions in all of us. I know that if you are like me then you get all excited and worked up and motivated about something and in a few days… all that momentum seems to fade away and you’re right back where you started. THEN you get all depressed because just a few days ago you had a spark bright enough to start a fire. Something stirred in you that was a call to action! You were ready to take that hill and now… Meh. Forget it. It was a stupid idea.

Thanks to the generosity of all of you, Derrick sold a whole lot of soap last week by taking his pitch to the Internet. Many of you acted on a feeling and did something about it. Donations from $1 to $50 and more came in. It’s going to make his day when I hook up with him later this week! The beauty of it all is it wasn’t an act of a charity but an act of gratitude because Derrick went all Tony Robbins on us and he helped spark something.

But what is that something? What is that spark? And more importantly… What are you going to do with it?

I tell folks at my OneLight workshop to not sit on this information for six months or it will be gone. When you get motivated you need to act. You need to move. You need to get that spark on to something flammable so you can start a fire.

We are going to make this some sort of series on the blog so we can hold ourselves accountable to this process. I’m going to be emailing B. on a regular basis to make sure he gets his a$$ up and makes pictures. My team of people around me are keeping me accountable because I want to do something with this as well.

Don’t answer this now but… If last week’s series of blog posts sparked something inside of you then what are you going to do about it? If you felt a call to action then how are you going to answer that call? How are you going to get off your arse and move in a direction that you want to go in? Don’t put this back on your back burner. Keep it right in front of you and ask yourself for the next few days…

“What am I going to do about this?”

Write down every idea you have.

Cheers, Zack

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