World-renowned photographer, Gregory Heisler, was given some interesting advice when he was a student. While attending RIT, an unnamed guest speaker came in, did their bit, and opened the floor up for questions. Heisler asked – calling himself a moron for doing so – “What advice would you give for a young photographer starting out today?”
The speaker responded, “I’d become a make-up artist or a model builder…the business for photographers, it’s over.” Talk about taking the wind out of your sails.
Fortunately, Heisler did not pursue another path and his career has led to a slew of accolades, magazine covers and the distinction of White House photographer which allowed him to photograph George H.W. Bush.
However, Heisler does note that, in the early-to-mid-1970s, the business of photography was over. At least as this guest speaker knew it. For the young photographers in the room, their potential was reset.
In a recent interview with Maine Media Workshop, it was time for Heisler to pass on advice. He says, “Shoot what you can’t help but shoot. If you shoot what you can’t help but shoot, they’ll be your best pictures. And because they’ll be your best pictures, they’ll be the pictures people respond to, and what’s great about that is when they respond to them, what they’ll hire you to shoot is more of what you can’t help but shoot. And since you can’t help but shoot it anyway, it’ll come naturally to you, you won’t have to second guess them, and this will repeat itself over and over and over again, and what you’ll end up building is a body of work of what you can’t help but shoot. And in hindsight, you will see your style.”
A little more uplifting than being told you’re making a poor career choice, no? The beauty in Heisler’s advice is not only that it’s evergreen, but that it’s true in various arenas – life, business, art and writing, to name some.
Learn more about Gregory Heisler and his photography here.