Where are You Headed?

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, UT by Jay Goodrich
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, UT © Jay Goodrich

If you want to know your past, look into your present conditions. If you want to know your future, look into your present actions.
--Buddhist Saying

The life a photographer might as well be the most insane roller coaster ever created. If it is not for the waves of income (pluses and minuses), it is for the work load, and/or the creative mindset. When everything goes bad at the same time it can feel like suicide is the only way out. When everything goes simultaneously right, you are the invincible ruler of a whole galaxy. Truly untouchable. Somewhere in between is where true happiness, tranquility, and balance exists. The mission is to get there and stay there for as long as possible. Of course you will deviate, because that is the reality of life.

So how do you stay in balance, discover creativity in a place...“A place where the beer flows like wine. Where beautiful women instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano...”-from the movie Dumb and Dumber. Well the answer is as easy as it is difficult. You plan, and then plan some more. And then add more planning to that. Then plan on adjusting those plans. Do you feel the coaster beginning to move? But, Jay how does this pertain to me when I am not a full-time photographer? Well, personally, I think it pertains to life in general. So if you can master one aspect of your life, you can master another aspect, and so on and so on.

Do you plan your household budget? Why not plan your photography budget? How about where you want to photograph? If you plan on shooting reflections in Maroon Lake in Aspen, and decide to head there in March, there aren’t going to be many (if any) reflections to be had. As you stride to become a better photographer or even a better full-time professional photographer think about your year ahead, think about what matters most to you and create a list of priorities. Then begin the planning stages most important to least important. Think about what you can afford, about where you want to go, what you want to photograph, and make it happen.

Along the way there will be peaks and valleys, there always is. Embrace those changes and use them to your advantage to create resolve from issue. The key is always use that creative thing on your shoulders--your head. Push the boundaries of your creativity in your photography, life, chosen profession, and whatever you are passionate about. Before your know it, riding the coaster becomes an aspect you will look forward to. At least sometimes. Maybe.

My last post highlighted my travels for the last year of my life. Many of those events and locations were planned, but in the same breath many were not. However, over the course of 365 days, I feel like I ended in balance with my world, and now I am acting to create my future. I have a pretty good idea of what I will be doing for the first part of 2011, although there will be adjustments, at least I have that beginning idea for now. This gives me something to work towards, without floundering on a beach somewhere, wondering if I will ever get rescued. Once I reach a state of equilibrium, I can think, which allows me to create.

Tell me, where you are headed? It doesn’t have to be photography related, share it, and then do it.


    Great post Jay. Finding balance is the key to happiness in life (and photography) and planning helps to achieve that balance.

    I’m looking forward to easy shoots in the local Sierra Nevada which I’ve explored for years and feel is my second home, and more complicated shoots in France and Italy where everything from the language barrier to location scouting will all be a new challenge.

    This is a beautiful post. I want to be a nature photogrpher; but, I don’t know where to start. I got a 35mm digital camera for my birthday. How did you start?

    Hi Carrol,

    I got my start when I moved to Colorado immediately after graduating from college. Coming from essentially NYC, Colorado possessed a beauty that I had never really experienced before. This planted the seed in my head to purchase a camera to record everything I was seeing. It wasn’t long after that I was hooked. That was 20 years ago. I essentially built my portfolio of images and business while working as an architect and builder. When the economy began to fall apart about 6 years ago, I got laid off from the job I was working and decided I had enough of that world and went full tilt into photography. I have never looked back and probably never will at this point. I love what I do every day regardless of any hang ups, it is all the best experience I have ever known.

    I’ve been teaching myself photography off and on for about 5 years now, started with film and have moved on to digital. Getting more serious about it this year. I attended the Seattle seminar with you and Art and it really inspired me to get more serious about it. Honestly I was tired of shooting in western Washington but not anymore. I have learned so much from your blogs, both here and on your website. I look forward to continuing to learn and hopefully take more classes. Have a lot of weekend trips planned all over Washington state in the coming months.


    Hi Shannon,

    Thank you for the wonderful words. I truly appreciate everything you said. I am so glad that you are finding inspiration in Washington again because of me and Art. Don’t ever hesitate to share those images in future comments.

Leave a Reply

Main Menu