In this tip, I invite you to consider all those who have inspired you, then write down their names and how each one inspired you. Through that journey, I hope you will strive each day to become each of those things, becoming an even more terrific instance of yourself.
I am reminded of a quote from late 1800’s Irish poet Oscar Wilde, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” that might well be true. When it comes to bringing into my work certain elements that I have discovered in the work of others, I can’t help but do it.
Those who know me best will attest to the fact that I am often guided by quotes from the past. “The best camera is the one you have with you,” is one that I often quote, from Creativelive founder Chase Jarvis. “Never try to catch falling knife,” from CNBC anchor Jim Cramer. And this quote from Margaret Thatcher on the perils of socialism: “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.”
It turns out that Wilde is correct, at least for me. I don’t recall even one quote that I find offensive or that I find lacking in inspiration. I don’t believe these flashes of inspiration actually changed or educated me to believe something new, but rather they help me crystallize concepts that represent how I am or how I desire to be.
The year 2020 has provided me with time to reflect on inspirations that have significantly impacted my work, my art, and me as a person. I would like to share just a few of them with you.
Harry Rogers. My only sibling, Harry was born ten years and 7 months after me. I was able to watch him develop from infancy into his early teens, after which life intervened from time to time as first me, then both of us, followed the path of life through college, military service, marriage, divorce and career. As the ‘big brother,’ it appeared to me that Harry looked to me for inspiration, coaching and experience whenever he encountered a roadblock. It’s a role that can be challenging – keeping ahead of a growing, developing, sibling in a way that I could always deliver on the next ‘roadblock.’ Thank you, Harry, for helping me remain relevant.
Larry Williams. The absolute best photographer and artist known to me, Larry does his work without fanfare. He has taught me the fine points of wildlife art, willingly and from the heart. You haven’t seen his work (yet) because notoriety is not something on which Larry places a high value. It is Larry who instilled in me perhaps the most important aspect of wildlife art: The photo or wall hanger is not the primary reason we do what we do. No one will ever understand why we spend hour upon hour, day after day, waiting for a special bird to appear in perfect light. We do it for ourselves – it is the experience, not the picture, that keeps us going back.
Norma Curby. One of my best friends in life, Eric Curby, often travels with me to really remote, wild places where we can experience a place so wild that everywhere you look, the hand of man cannot be detected. Norma is now in her early 90’s. Being Eric’s mother, she has gained some insight into why Eric and I do what we do, seeking out the wild instead of the beach. Norma never ceases to amaze and inspire me, as she not only accompanies Eric and me on these trips to the edge of civilization, but she participates step-for-step. Often, these are places none of us have seen before. Traveling with two photographers would bore some, as we set up tripods, move from place to place for better compositions – not Norma! The sheer wonder in her eye as she gazes around, picking up a pine cone here, a rock there – reminds me just how blessed we are!
These are only a few examples from a treasure trove of influencers who have challenged me on the one hand, and kept me grounded on the other. I am the product of all those who have inspired me.
Who inspires you? I invite you to write it down. Do that for yourself – the experience of compiling your list of names and inspirations will exceed the value of the list itself.
Think about it. Who inspires you?
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Photo Trip Journals by Larry Rogers