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“Everything” Is Not An Answer for: “What Can’t You Do?”

Tonight we are going to a presentation by a software mapping company in San Francisco. Chris booked this a few days ago, and since then I’ve been flooded with the memory of one particular presentation I went to several years ago given by a wedding DJ company selling a marketing service. Their service also applied to wedding photographers and videographers. It was on that night I met Marks and Kay Feaster, and little did I know what impact they would have on me. Especially Marks. I remember the lesson learned from answering the question: “What in this photo can’t you do?” with “Everything.” It wasn’t an acceptable answer then, and it isn’t an acceptable answer now.

Even though there is over a 20 year age difference, it didn’t stop a friendship from instantly forming and so much more. Marks took me under his wing and showed me the ropes of running a successful photography business. He let me tag along and bring my own camera to weddings and portrait shoots. Between shoots we’d meet and look at photo and video products like slideshows, prints, and albums.

The Question and “Everything” Answer

During one of those first visits he pulled out a stack of photographs he collected from a trade show. Back in the day, you’d collect stacks of photographs from other photographers just like you’d collect baseball cards. He showed me several of them and I sat there in awe. He asked me, “What in this photo can’t you do?” I immediately answered with, “Everything.” Let’s just say that I won’t ever answer a question that way again. At the age of 22, I was reprimanded by someone that was turning into a close friend, mentor, and even father figure. After the ass-chewing for giving such a negative answer, we analyzed the photo together. Lighting, texture, hand placement, background, focus, color, camera angle, and posing.

Continued Struggle

A few weeks later we met again and went through more photographs. Again, he asked, “What in this photo can’t you do?” Silently I answered his question the same way, but I didn’t dare say the word aloud. Instead I stuttered to give him an answer that I didn’t believe. Again, we dissected all elements of the photo. I went home and asked myself why I kept thinking and feeling that I couldn’t do even half as good as the other photographers. In addition to slowly changing my mindset, I forced myself to be more active on a photo forum filled with dozens of amazing photographers. I even posted several photos, in which they would rip them apart with comments. That hurt too, but it did help me grow.

Pushing Past Feedback

Though life does indeed present challenges and embarrassments, there is nothing that has hurt more than those comments I received on the forum. That might sound a little depressing, but it isn’t. Those moments, along with the moments with Marks dissecting something from the ground up, have taught me that I can do anything. It’s a matter of measuring what needs to be given up to achieve the new thing. Is it worth my time and distraction from other elements in life?

I don’t like thinking about what life would be like had I not met Marks. I certaintly wouldn’t share images with the confidence I have now. He is no longer with us, and I miss him every day. I wish I could tell him all about the drone and how we’re going to learn about 3D mapping tonight. He’d absolutely love it.

With that, I encourage anyone struggling with thoughts of not knowing where to start, or not feeling good enough, to push past the feelings. You must hush negative voices while slowly digging deeper and looking for feedback in the area you want to grow. When the time comes, use that feedback as ammo to get you through any obstacles. It’s not that you can’t do anything, it’s that you can indeed do everything you truly desire.

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I’m an example of a vegetable soup mix of skills, accidentally culminated from my first and greatest passion: photography. Photography led to video, marketing, writing, and graphic design. As client requests morphed, that led to several website designs and then to instructing photography classes. Sprinkle in JavaScript coding, simply because it is fun to learn. Projects I’ve managed along the way have provided the good fortune for increasing knowledge of servers, browsers, databases, and other random tech stuff. Everything meshes together in one way or another as client needs ebb and flow. My visual content solutions are created based on current trends, technology, client needs, timeline, and budget.