On my first day at a newspaper office in the Chicago suburbs (over fifteen years ago), I was introduced to my co-workers. I explained a bit about my professional background in photojournalism at previous publications and shared my excitement about joining their photography team. The day was underway.
Then, I was caught off guard.
As I set up my desk, one of the other photographers came up to me and gave me a long lingering stare. Then she excitedly blurted out, “You’re real. You’re a real photographer. I can’t wait to work with you.”
I was surprised and absolutely had to know more about what my new colleague was talking about. We went on to have an incredibly eye-opening conversation about others in the newsroom who were just there to punch a time clock, chase cops or see their name in print.
She motioned to another gal in the photo department and said she’s good with a camera, fun to work with and is just here to get out of the house. She was bored being a housewife. This job passes the time for her.
Wow. I was taken back.
Then my new friend launched into a series of questions asking what it was like working for other publications, winning photography awards and being a full-time photographer. I answered, but carefully turned the table to learn more about her.
She gleefully explained her love of creating images and playing with her camera, but admitted that she’s never fully figured it out. She didn’t get a degree in journalism, photography or art. She felt stifled and bored by some of her assignments.
She didn’t consider herself a real photographer.
Over the next several months we chatted often and became pretty good friends. We challenged each other to find creative angles at yet another person-talking-at-a-podium news event or a unique stand-alone weather photo, which often graced the front of the newspaper on slow days.
Her enthusiasm empowered me to try new things. More than once she’d come into the office shaking her head saying , “You did it again! I’ve photographed that event so many times and never saw it from that view. Good job!”
We both ended up motivating one another on a level neither one of us could understand. She felt blessed to have me join the team. I appreciated her blunt candor and refreshing honesty about everything we talked about.
Sometimes perspective is all you need to shift your view.
Are you being real to yourself and those around you? Are you passing time or creating memories?
Until next time,
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