The Price Of Admission

I had a mini-epiphany after receiving some comments and re-reading a post I wrote earlier this week called Bet on Hard Work Over Talent.

That epiphany is pretty simple. I forgot to include one or two key sentences: We shouldn’t celebrate or over-dramatize that we work hard, because no one cares. If you’re a professional creative, then working hard and being good at your job is the price of admission.

We don’t hear PGA golfer Phil Mickelson telling the press how hard he works. Instead, he wakes up every morning and practices. And then, on game day, come rain or shine, in front of 10 people or 10 million people and hits the ball right down the middle. And you know what? That’s the price of admission. You don’t get to be a pro golfer without it. Yo Yo Ma isn’t reminding us how much he’s practiced the cello. Hugh McLeod doesn’t remind us that he draws thousands of cartoons in order to produce a book. You’re not in the PGA, you’re not a concert cellist, you’re not a professional cartoonist until you have worked really hard and actually seen results.

It should be of no surprise then, that we all–you and me and the rest of us professional creatives–are subject to the same laws. Hard work is the price of admission. It’s what happens after you get in the show that really matters.

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50 Responses to The Price Of Admission

  1. Kristopher Michael March 26, 2010 at 9:29 am #

    Completely agree with this, Chase. No one cares about your work ethic, although it's appreciated that you "sweat" and strain doing what you do. The final product is what it comes down to and how you perform on "Game day!" Good analogy and viewpoint!

  2. Chris March 26, 2010 at 9:30 am #

    Thanks, Chase, for the personal reminder that my talent is not what is going to sustain and grow a career. There's no "American Idol" for photogs.
    It was a great reality check for me that I am not working NEAR hard enough.

  3. David Dvir March 26, 2010 at 9:32 am #

    Nice follow up. Very simply put, and correct

  4. BRIAN BULEMORE March 26, 2010 at 9:35 am #

    Absolute agreement here…spending time/effort trying to get everyone to acknowledge one's hard work tends to get in the way of the work needed to truly get the acknowledgement. This validates my efforts! Thanks for all that you do, man!

    10% show…90% biz


  5. David Teran March 26, 2010 at 9:36 am #

    you should put down the camera and be a full time motivational speaker.

  6. Marcos Valdés March 26, 2010 at 9:38 am #

    It is absolutely true!! if you choose this train, you have to pay the ticket!

  7. Anonymous March 26, 2010 at 9:41 am #

    Great points Chase. I have found myself time and time again working hard and I realizing that nothing else matters until your doing what you were made to do. Your "Price of Admission" analogy is a perfect example. I finally have two photo-shoots booked this weekend. I'm nervous but my hard work will pay off in the end…at least i hope.

  8. Eric Doggett March 26, 2010 at 9:44 am #

    Totally agree – I don't like to talk about how hard I work. Or when I have a sucky day. It's a big turnoff when I read that stuff, so I don't want to contribute to that!

    Work hard, kick ass, and have fun!

  9. Photoplasia March 26, 2010 at 9:52 am #

    Well said!

  10. Robert Randall March 26, 2010 at 9:56 am #

    As the actor Will Smith said "I have a ridiculous, sickening work ethic". He didn't have to say it though because it shows in everything he does. Talent will only get you so far, demanding more from yourself than anyone else can imagine is the difference. I learned this from Tony Robbins 20 years ago and for the most part I've lived that way ever sense. It makes for an amazing life.

  11. Trudy March 26, 2010 at 10:00 am #

    People not caring about a concept isn't sufficient reason not to discuss something. Sometimes things need to be said and often change the climate of what is cared about and what is not. Certainly nothing outside of drama should be "dramatized" ;) but discussing hard work is ok in my book. Hard work is the price of admission in many fields and should be in all; that doesn't mean it's recognized by people, including some in those very same fields where it is the price of admission. I think that is the point of blogs…to share inner thoughts and ideas. The point of the portfolio is to show what's possible when you perform.

    The concept of dramatization, like the photographs themselves is open to interpretation anyway. Someone may think that they're calm about expressing an idea but someone else may read that as them over dramatizing about stuff "no one cares" about. Another thing that is interesting is the perception of what "no one cares" about. For example, every social media expert on Twitter claims no one cares about what you ate for lunch. I find that ironic since people will retweet what I ate for lunch, conversate about it at length and even ask me if I take pictures of food.

    Nice post on talent and work (I read the other one too); I like to read about those ideas more and more since the time I read Outliers.

    Good post thanks for sharing.

  12. ~j March 26, 2010 at 10:00 am #

    This really resonates in Malcolm Gladwell's book "Outliers: The Story of Success" His take on it is that 10k hours or practice is the price of admission for anything. See Bill Gates, The Beatles, or almost any professional and the hard works is always in the shadows.

  13. Ole M March 26, 2010 at 10:03 am #

    "There's no "American Idol" for photogs."

    Funny you should say that. Becuase – actually there is ! Its called "The Shot".

  14. David Peacock March 26, 2010 at 10:12 am #

    Hear, hear.

  15. Jonny March 26, 2010 at 10:12 am #

    And here I thought that when I quit my day job last year and went full time, i'd be able to take "days off". What a bunch of bullshit that was… however, i'm happier than i've ever been, work isn't really work when you're doing what you love.

  16. David March 26, 2010 at 10:18 am #

    Great post. It's Hugh McLeod, not McCloud, by the way.

  17. Anonymous March 26, 2010 at 10:27 am #

    Hard work is not the price of admission. Being efficient and smart about it is key. A lot of people can work hard doing one thing, but if it is the wrong thing, you would be lost, not in. If you work hard but are too late, you're out. You need to be precise and very efficient, and above all have free thinking and dare to dream. Big fan of your work, Erion Omeri, Green Bay.

  18. rensche March 26, 2010 at 10:27 am #

    so true! Being a hard worker is just part of who I am and letting everyone know that I work hard is probably not the best policy.

  19. Tate Dominguez March 26, 2010 at 10:48 am #

    Right on point. I completely agree.

  20. the Doug March 26, 2010 at 11:03 am #

    Thank you Chase. I needed to hear that. I just have to get off your butt and work harder, work smarter and make something happen.

  21. Matt Sanderson March 26, 2010 at 11:12 am #

    It's odd but I've never thought about that before. Well said and such a valuable point!

    - Matt

  22. Scott MacKenzie March 26, 2010 at 11:26 am #

    Just in time to hear.
    I blew the first of three math placement tests this morning. Instead of freaking, I'm back home studying. I guess this drudgery is the price of admission to get to be able to pay the price of admission so I can finally pay the price of admission so that I can become a pro.

  23. Roy March 26, 2010 at 11:45 am #

    Couldn't agree with you more. Good stuff

  24. Scotty C. March 26, 2010 at 12:42 pm #

    Excellent point. It doesn't just apply to us creative pros though. Even those who get a free pass with American Idol will only remain successful if they continue to put in the hard work. The fruit of your labor, no matter what it is, IS the labor. The work is so much more important then the end product, whatever it may be.

  25. Oldbirch March 26, 2010 at 12:52 pm #

    Sorry, but it's not true that no one cares how hard you work. Damn right I care; how else do I explain to my 13 year old, that it's not talent or brains that will get him places; it's shear hard work. If kids don't see or know that successful people work hard at what they do, what incentive is there for "untalented them" to even try? No, your original article had it right on.

  26. lavery March 26, 2010 at 1:24 pm #

    I totally agree. I remember reading once that it takes 10,000 hours of practice at something in order to be able to call yourself an expert. Hard work indeed.

  27. Mark March 26, 2010 at 2:45 pm #

    Gee…This reminds me of how many times we heard George Bush say how hard he works…..

  28. Chase Jarvis March 26, 2010 at 3:05 pm #

    @ mark. totally! but as i said in the post. no one cares. you gotta pay to play.

  29. Nick Nieto March 26, 2010 at 3:15 pm #

    Loved the golf analogy. I don't know if you play but if your ever in Portland and want to hit up the links send me an email.

  30. Glyn Dewis March 26, 2010 at 4:42 pm #


    Nice post Chase, and oh so true.


  31. Ari March 26, 2010 at 5:15 pm #

    This is one of those gems that a number of my better/favorite photo professors would tell the class, often to get ignored by the class as being too harsh.

    It's also an important thing to remember when editing down images. It doesn't matter if you crawled through the mud to get that image, if it's bad, or not right for the project, then it must be left on the cutting room floor or occasionally tacked on the wall as a reminder to your self.

  32. Nena March 26, 2010 at 8:19 pm #

    This is so right. I wonder why folks folly over how many people notice the hard work instead of letting it speak for itself. We should all be too busy to brag because eyeballs in alligators with out craft.

    Thanks, Chase.

  33. Sylvia Guardia M. March 27, 2010 at 7:17 am #

    Well said, very simple and you nailed it. Mind if I quote you and your 2 key sentences?! I just think they're absolutely true. Thanks for the inspiration!

  34. jeremy March 27, 2010 at 7:34 am #

    I have to disagree. I think these days, its ever more important to express or convey the level of work ethic needed to succeed and excel, and to really put a premium on the work ethic.

    It seems these days that more an more people are looking for a quick success, to hit it big on a reality show or get famous quick and make tons of money, but they don't see the tremendous hours of work that go into being successful. They see the superstar athlete and tons of money and fame, but dont' see the hours of work that they put in to get to that point, they think it all comes easy.

    so i say its important to make it clear the amount of work and determination and commitment that goes into being successful, and that we again take pride in working hard to succeed, rather than hoping for some instant fame or success from sheer luck.

  35. March 27, 2010 at 7:26 pm #

    It's the 10,000 hour law ala Malcolm Gladwell. Hence, the 10-year overnight success.

  36. Donovan March 27, 2010 at 10:00 pm #

    Chase, I've been following your blog for some time and I have to say that this is one of the most compelling posts I have read. It has really opened my eyes to this creative industry. Thanks a lot!

  37. Donovan Williams March 27, 2010 at 10:00 pm #

    Chase, I've been following your blog for some time and I have to say that this is one of the most compelling posts I have read. It has really opened my eyes to this creative industry. Thanks a lot!

  38. Mark March 27, 2010 at 11:40 pm #

    Very true but you also have to remember that no one will want to pay 10,000$ for a photo even if you had to dish out 20,000$, six months of preparation, and had to give up your first born child. There is a sweet spot somewhere, gotta find it.

  39. Simon Fleming March 28, 2010 at 5:21 am #


    On occasions when someone tells you how "lucky" you are to be in the position you're in, I like to point out that it seems the harder I work the luckier I seem to get – there ain't no substitute for hard work & determination.

  40. Gordon March 28, 2010 at 10:00 am #

    You are very correct. You work very very very very hard and then you get to where you are. Discipline is what sets winners apart from losers.

  41. JC Mendez March 28, 2010 at 12:34 pm #

    Well said Chase……..

  42. Danny Santos March 28, 2010 at 10:58 pm #

    As they say "find a job that you really like, and you never have to work another day in your life" … and I believe this. Coz if you're really in it, working hard comes so natural that it doesn't feel like hard work at all.

  43. josh March 29, 2010 at 12:14 am #

    very well said, couldn't agree more.

    If I may, that picture is not Phil Mickelson. Not sure who that is but definitely not Phil.

  44. Easton Shultz March 29, 2010 at 11:19 pm #

    I agree with David Teran. The way you write makes me feel confident and full of energy to want to go out an LIVE! I recently purchased my first camera, a DSLR, and have stumbled upon your work. I have been entranced with it ever since.

    You truly are an artist and have given me some great insight and direction so far. This is my first blog post, not only on chasejarvis, but ever. Studying your work has become a catalyst for my desire to learn all I can about the art, and to hopefully propel me to a successful career in the field some day.

    I am two years out of high school and have not gone to college because I've had no idea what I wanted to do. Until now. Thank you Chase for your words of wisdom and inspiration. The how-tos are very helpful too ;) (and unselfish)

    Thank you again.

  45. Mike April 19, 2010 at 2:43 pm #

    Great post – definitely something to keep in mind when the going is tough.

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