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The Vision

Before I started writing this, I was in a bit of ‘down’ mood. While September was a pretty darn good and positive month for my photography, it’s still a ways away from where I want to be and while it helps, getting work during this extraordinary time is challenging to say the least.

But…

I started feeling goosebumps and a lift just as soon as I started typing. I left the last article about God preparing me for the times ahead. The good, the great and tough. I’ve known for quite a while that difficult times are to prepare me. But I just didn’t realize how much they’ve propelled me either. I’m feeling better and better. Whatever difficulties I’m feeling better, they will be dwarfed by the great that will come in due time.

A sort of side-track…. But it’s important.

In the 1981, the movie Chariots of Fire, one of my all-time favorites, a true story and won a bunch of Academy Awards, there is character named Eric Liddel. A devout Scottish Christian and champion track athlete who competes in the 1924 Olympics. In the movie, his sister who is working with him to head a Christian mission in China. She doesn’t understand his need to run and is constantly on him to give it up. She’s frightened for him. After all, how many people do we see implode with everything that may come with fame?

In short, Eric feels God’s pleasure when he runs. He has to until he feels God wants him done with it. I mean, God gave him speed, God gave me photography. Right? Why? I actually found a perfect clip of the scene on YouTube.

Life will always have its difficult times. You can either deal with those difficult times doing something you love or something you hate. It’s that simple a choice. I could quit photography tomorrow, start an IT consulting business and be disgustingly rich in 5 years. Absolutely. No problem. But I’d be miserable. I’d feel empty. Money does not buy happiness. We’ve seen that tragic story too often.

Tomorrow is a new day. 10 photography gigs can come through my eMail tomorrow. Totally. Maybe even more. Sure! Don’t underestimate the power of positivity! God knows I’ve put in the work….

So with that, let’s talk a little about what I want to accomplish… With video…

I have collected some videos on what I see and want to do with my career. To some people, all this may seem absurd. Mohammed Ali, one of my all-time heroes would make predictions that would seem insane. But that’s what motivated and pushed him. It’s one of the secrets to success. You got to put it out there. You got to tell people. In 2010, Demi Lovato tweeted that someday, she would get to sing at the Super Bowl. In 2020, it happened. Yes! People take you out of the ‘crazy’ category and put you into the ‘Holy Sh#@!” category when you accomplished what you’ve said you’d do…. But first…

It’s not about being famous and rich. It’s about being the best I can be. That means working with the best. I’ve always been about wanting to do my best. I have no idea why. I just think life isn’t worthwhile if you aren’t doing your best.

David Thompson. I saw this video just a few months after I started photography. I thought “Now THIS is what professional fashion photography is all about!”. But the funny thing as time went on, I actually learned a tremendous amount about lighting and some other tiny little things. I also became a huge Phase One camera system fan. Even more so when I got my hands on one.

The video is eight years old and he’s still going strong in his career. Working with and for the best.

Jason Bell. Another Phase One camera commercial, has one of the best careers out there. While I don’t know the Poldark show he’s photographing, I love the cast and what they are wearing. The location is gorgeous. Quite frankly, the kind of place I would love to live someday. I love classic French/British country homes. It would be tough for life to get much better than this for me.

The Master: Peter Lindbergh. Maybe my all-time favorite photographer. He did it all and more than anyone else. In addition to that, he started photography much later in life than the typical professional. Age 31. Which is pretty old in this business. Most photographers start in their teens. If not earlier.

The funny thing is: Much of his work isn’t incredibly technical. He uses a Nikon that you can pick up at Best Buy. His lighting is usually pretty simple. Look at the clothes in the video. You can pick up similar or exact items at Rent the Runway for pretty cheap. The model’s hair is simply pulled-back. Makeup looks good. But every makeup artist I’ve ever worked with can do exactly the same.

So how did he rise so fast to the top? Well, he assisted a successful photographer and then got to work at a magazine with other top, famous photographers whose names you would instantly recognize if I mentioned them. He also had a style and ethos that at the time, original.

Peter Lindbergh. Image Source: Unknown

Peter Lindbergh. Image Source: Unknown

I think the biggest question to ask is: How do I reach the level that these gentlemen have attained? The answer: I don’t know.

I have heard just about everything under the sun on what it takes to succeed in this business. It’s all true. And it’s not. In life, you can do everything correctly. Perfectly. And still lose. Or not attain what you wanted to.

A few of the things that I keep running in my mind, to help keep my spirts and motivation up:

• Work hard. I’ve known many successful people in my life. Success is not rocket science. Working hard is a huge factor in success. Twelve. Fourteen hours a day. As much as it takes. But be careful of burnout. Or insanity.

• Persistence. Maybe as important as the first point. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve seen succeed simply by grinding away every day. Doing what you need to do. Every day.

• Attitude. Being grateful. Being happy that you’re doing something that you love. Because, you can be doing something 8 – 10 hours a day that you hate or don’t care about. For the rest of your life.

• Faith. Fate. Destiny. However you think of it. When I look back at my life, there were so many opportunities that could’ve taken me in another direction. But they all started to lead me where I am today. I can’t believe that to be coincidental.

Again, you may do everything right. Perfect. And still not make it. It's a fact of life. But my two biggest rules in life are:

• Do your best. If you don't make it, you can say that you gave it 110% and be proud of that.

But mostly....

• Be happy and grateful with where you are right now. It's not the same as complacency. Move forward with a great attitude, smile and being good to others. Because, what happens if you make it and your miserable and there is no one there to share your success with you?

Ricardo Gomez Photography

Originally from San Francisco, Ricardo is now a New York-based photographer specializing in editorial and commercial photography.
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