Luck, a four letter word that makes my blood boil. In just four letters you’ve discounted years of blood, sweat, and tears. I hear it daily, “oh I want your life, you’re so lucky”. Now people aren’t trying to demean what I do or put me down. I get it, I live a pretty epic life, at least the side you see on social media. What you don’t see, what only I see, is the hard work put into every day. Often times I see people not pursuing their dreams and then attribute other’s success to pure luck. Once we look past the idea that luck is needed to reach our dreams, is when our dreams come to reality.
I’ve had some amazing opportunities in my life, from working with National Geographic in Glacier National Park to traveling the world as an adventure photographer. But not one of these opportunities comes down to luck. It often comes down to being in the right place at the right time, but the only person responsible for putting me in that place is me. Years ago I adopted the life philosophy of “JUST GO”. I say yes to every opportunity that comes my way and even though it may not seem like it at the time, somehow it comes full circle and pays off.
To give you an example let’s look at the sequence of events that led to me working with Keith Ladzinski and National Geographic in Glacier National Park for ten days. It started in April of 2015 when I received a phone call from Donnie Sexton, at the time she was the photographer for Visit Montana (amongst a thousand other titles), she told me that she was in Billings with a National Geographic photographer and they were working on a project. She called me because she knew Billings was my stomping grounds and few photographers knew the ins and outs like I did. I happened to be in Bozeman at the time, but before I even got off the phone call I was already in my car and driving towards Billings. I proceeded to spend two days with Keith and Donnie showing them Zimmerman Park and Bighorn Canyon. My efforts to bring Keith to the canyon landed him on the cover of National Geographic Traveler’s Montana Road Trip edition.
Keith was grateful for my knowledge of the area, and so when Keith was given an assignment to photograph Glacier National Park later that year he knew just the guy to call to help. He called me with a few weeks notice, and at the time I was holding down a 40 hour a week job. I let my office know that I was planning to go to Glacier to do this shoot, and I think they knew that had they not let me go that I was going to go anyway even if it meant quitting. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity and a dream come true. And this amazing opportunity wasn’t a feat of luck, it came down to my willingness to hop in the car and drive the two hours to Billings on a moment’s notice. But it goes back even further than that. The reason Donnie Sexton gave me that phone call went back to my relationship with Visit Montana and my willingness to show influencers and photographers around the state.
So why did I tell you this story? To prove a point that life is a series of random occurrences, so put yourself out there as much as possible! As artists we’re often waiting for our “lucky break” but I believe in creating our own luck. It’s not easy, and it sure isn’t as pretty as the photos posted to social media of nice sunsets and espresso cups in far off lands. I choose perseverance over luck. Last fall there was a time when I didn’t make a dollar for three months. Was I scared? You bet! Every day I questioned if I was making the right choice, and I debated going to get a “real job”. But I pushed through, and I’m grateful for doing so.
The opportunities I’ve had in my life come as a result of always having a willingness to just go. This attitude is one that can help anyone, from artists to the corporate world. Willingness and openness to new opportunities and challenges are how we grow and push ourselves out of our comfort zone. Life is made up of a series of random moments, but these random moments can’t happen if you’re not there!
Good luck 😉
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