The Status Quo Will Do Just Fine Without You

As a matter of opinion, it’s time to get some cojones. Or whatever clever slang you’ve cooked up for the female equivalent, or whatever will help you understand the following point. Sure there’s plenty of good things to honor about the past of our photography industry. A lot of the trails have been intelligently blazed by those before us, a lot of ditches have been dug. But…ahem…generally speaking status quo in photography doesn’t know which way is up. Surely you’ve noticed.

So I ask.
What is your photographic vision?
What is your brand vision?
What is your business?
What is your marketing?
What are your effing goals?

This is not a fluff piece. This is truth: there ere are a bazillion photographers in the safe little ‘status quo’ bubble that will keep the status quo quietly marching along. So many that, in fact, it will be just fine without you.

Which is precisely why you should leave it behind.

What does that mean? It means take a chance. Or Three. Charge away from convention. Break shit. You can always go back to the status quo if you get scared or get knocked around a bit, because the reality is that it’s not going anywhere. You’ll be told that they won’t take you back if you leave, but that’s a scare tactic. In reality, they’ll take you back in a second, because… the SQ voice depends on numbers. If you don’t have what it takes, it will always be there waiting with open arms saying, “We knew you’d be back” or “I told you so.”

But the funny thing is this: I’m banking that when you push it, when you leave the status quo behind, and make some new in-roads, some new habits, that you might just get comfortable with the new you, and lo and behold you’ll be ready to push it again. That’s when the magic happens. That’s what we need. That’s what–I’m guessing–you need.

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79 Responses to The Status Quo Will Do Just Fine Without You

  1. Darrin June 21, 2011 at 11:12 am #

    yes!

    • www.minacicconi.com June 22, 2011 at 7:23 am #

      SQ has never loved me. I’ve always been an artist. I went to ‘Art School’ — but when I started to express myself with a camera, a group of friends would often say: “You know you’re not a photographer, right?” AND in the next breath they’d ask for the photos I had just taken. You know, I might not have had the best gear starting out. Maybe I don’t have it now. But I know I take GOOD pictures, and I’ve always believed that I could be whatever I wanted to be… ever since I was a little kid. I’m still taking pictures… but I’ve since let go of the frienemies. Great post Chase. Food for thought.

      • Leaf Adhriel February 2, 2012 at 8:13 pm #

        Just be your self! Keep it up..

  2. John Melancon June 21, 2011 at 11:13 am #

    Great post Chase! I think this is the advice I needed to hear. I think we tend to get caught up in “what’s the new trend” or whatever everyone else is shooting that we sometimes lose our own voice in a sea of other photographers. I guess some times the best thing to is to just shut the noise out for a bit, trust yourself and remind ourselves that we are creative powerhouses when we allow ourselves to be!

    • Natalija June 21, 2011 at 11:26 am #

      I agree John. Once you stop looking at what other people are doing, your creativity is sparked. Putting on blinders can sometimes be the best thing you can do to push things further and to get us where we want to be.

      • John Melancon June 22, 2011 at 9:02 am #

        I couldn’t agree more Nataljia! I find that the more I “Study” the more I feel pressure to shoot like the people I study. The “me” gets lost in my work. I’m learning not to just emulate those that I admire but seeing what it is that I admire about them then stopping everything and asking myself “ok, how to I adapt that into what I do to make MY voice stronger and not just another clone of this person” It’s a long tedious road but I know it’s going to make me a better shooter in the long run and I know I’m being true to myself!

        Cheers and happy shooting!!!

    • c.d.embrey June 21, 2011 at 7:19 pm #

      By the time that you have heard of a “trend”, it is either out of style or about to go out of style.

      Several years ago I saw an ad for some PS Actions, it said … Give your customers the latest trends … By the time that these actions come to market, the “trends” have become a cliché.

      • John Melancon June 22, 2011 at 9:05 am #

        Totally! That’s why I find myself not necessarily pushing away from trends (They’re trends for a reason, the obviously have worked for SOMEONE) but not necessarily taking them as scripture either. Like I said above, take bits and pieces to add to your arsenal and figure out how to make a better me! Not just me with someone else’s ideas!

        Cheers!

  3. Stephen Poon June 21, 2011 at 11:14 am #

    thank you Chase! i’m doing a big commercial/modeling shoot in the next month and this was just what I needed to overcome my “photographer’s block” while trying to come up with a shot list.

  4. cc June 21, 2011 at 11:18 am #

    I need to quit my job! my camera is spending far too long in its pack and i haven’t been published in forever. crazy photography blocks right now. Good post keep them coming Chase!

    • Lee Love February 2, 2012 at 8:37 pm #

      CC, WARNING ! Be careful what you wish for.

      Being a full time “photographer” is a misconception. Making a living as a photographer is all about being a full time “business person”. Working in the industry requires 80% business and 20% photography.

      I promise you that as a part time photographer, you get to shoot what you want, when you want and this is not the case when and if you leave your job. Not trying to discourage you but when I hear people talk about leaving their job so they can shoot more it indicates that they have forgotten this is a business not a hobby.

      Just get out and SHOOT. It doesn’t take a business card to follow Chases advice. Taking a risk creatively is a lot harder than taking a business risk.

  5. Natalija June 21, 2011 at 11:22 am #

    Very well said and comes at just the right time. My husband keeps telling me to go beyond my comfort zone, to start expanding my photographic vision, and to try something new for a change. He keeps telling me…”Document our life together and stop taking those photos of our kids sitting on rocks because it’s boring.” My husband always tells me the way it is, he’s German. No bs from him. I might not always like hearing it, but in the end I know he’s right.

    • Nicolae Cioloca June 21, 2011 at 12:54 pm #

      @ Natalija: love the baby in front of the window!

      • Natalija June 21, 2011 at 3:44 pm #

        @ Nicolae – thank you! It’s a photo of my son and one of a couple of photos that I am happy to see in Ginny Felch’s “Photographing Children Photoworkshop” coming out late next month.

  6. Redawna June 21, 2011 at 11:32 am #

    Totally the pep talk I needed today!

    Thanks Chase!

  7. Jill June 21, 2011 at 11:35 am #

    @ Natalija- I lived in Germany for a while and loved the expression they had for “us” Americans. They would say, “We speak through the flowers!” Sometimes I think this is what I do with my photography. I show the safe and pretty side. I am just dying to take a step beyond that! My husband and I call our business Frayed Edge for crying out loud. For some reason, this blog is confirmation that I am playing it too safe.

    This blog is music to my ears and stirs my photographic soul to the core. I am so eager to push the envelope and see what happens. Thanks for this, Chase!
    JM

    • Natalija June 21, 2011 at 11:44 am #

      @ Jill – I’ll have to ask my husband about that phrase, but I truly appreciate the honesty he gives me even though sometimes I don’t want to hear it.

  8. Dan Rowles June 21, 2011 at 11:37 am #

    Ok, time to kick some ass, thanks for the kick up mine!

  9. Ollie June 21, 2011 at 11:39 am #

    I’m told constantly to research other photographers, at Uni, for inspiration but nothing ever comes of it. I’m so embroiled in the research that I don’t have time to think about what I want from this, thus causing me to have no individuality. There is a market out there thats being swamped by thousands of photographers and people do need their individuality. I have much to learn and your mentoring is eye opening. I hope one day to get there. Thanks for all your insights Chase.

  10. Benny June 21, 2011 at 11:40 am #

    Chase, I’m a massive fan of yours and you’re the reason why I bought my first camera (Nikon D7000) and what you’re talking about here is the reason why I have photographers that I look up to and admire but I never follow their work too closely (no offence). I just want to go out there and shoot my own stuff, make my mistakes and learn from them. That being said I’m no photographer just another kid with a DSLR and wants to take better pictures.

    *Self promotion* – Check out my blog! :)

  11. Nicolae Cioloca June 21, 2011 at 11:41 am #

    Thx, again for this post.

    Yes break out, but which direction?
    Follow your heart? There are a million ways to go, what if its the wrong way?
    What if I am the one who won`t achive his goals, there are some people who don`t make it, and try really hard too, right?

    Nico

    • Chase June 21, 2011 at 11:45 am #

      break out in the direction that feels right to you. if it’s the wrong way, then you’ll fail.

      toughen up.

      but when you fail–if you have what it takes–you go at it again, but differently.

      of course you don’t need to make all the mistakes of those before you, but you should try to be the first person to make a particular mistake.

      • Nicolae Cioloca June 21, 2011 at 11:49 am #

        “if it’s the wrong way, then you’ll fail.” -> thanks.

        “but you should try to be the first person to make a particular mistake.” -> Thank you so much. I think I can do that.

  12. RJ June 21, 2011 at 11:41 am #

    Thank you Chase, you just back up my beliefs, that has long bothering me, if I am doing the wrong thing. I’m not a professional, I just enjoy the craft and passionate of creating it. I’ve been surrounded by those SQ that will make you feel worthless. Thanks for throwing the rope….

  13. Blake Murphy June 21, 2011 at 11:45 am #

    Nice post Chase! Thanks for all your insights.

  14. Natalija June 21, 2011 at 12:01 pm #

    @ Nicolae – Your work is beautiful. I especially like the photo of the lady in front of the Schlosshotel Bühlerhöhe.

    • Nicolae Cioloca June 21, 2011 at 12:24 pm #

      @ Natalija: thank you so much, you manufacture baby stuff?

      • Natalija June 21, 2011 at 3:45 pm #

        @ Nicolae – yes, I hand knit one-of-a-kind items for newborn photographers which I sell online.

  15. BLKPXLS June 21, 2011 at 12:40 pm #

    Well when you step away from what people expect sometimes it not appreciated because the dont know anything else but that.

  16. Bo June 21, 2011 at 12:43 pm #

    Awesome. Thanks for the pep talk and helping to put things in perspective.

    I love you so hard.

  17. Per Snare June 21, 2011 at 12:51 pm #

    Amen!

  18. joy hamel June 21, 2011 at 1:00 pm #

    your words inspire. your images breathtaking. I shared about it on my blog too… thank you…

    breaking out can be the hardest thing an artist does, it means being true to the vision, putting it out there for the world to judge… and then not giving a damn about what they say!

    c’est magnifique

  19. Sarah Machowski June 21, 2011 at 1:27 pm #

    I’ve spent a lot of time getting used to the SQ and now I’m so ready for this break! Thank you for saying just the right thing at just the right time!

  20. Rachel Tatem June 21, 2011 at 1:32 pm #

    Thanks for the encouragement. What you say is so true but how often it is easy to lean back into the SQ, sad but true.

  21. Brian Sumner June 21, 2011 at 1:38 pm #

    PERFECT!!!!!!

  22. Valgas Moore June 21, 2011 at 4:35 pm #

    Just tried something new with a video for a regular client, they didn’t love it as much as the usual stuff I do for them -which is obviously hard to take, as a creatives’ work is a reflection of the creator -me-. But as I live and experience new things, I change –so will my work.

    • Nicolae Cioloca June 21, 2011 at 4:48 pm #

      Valgas, you`re sure your work is a reflecion of your person? Some say creative work comes from a higher power, some call it a muse, or the universe.

      Some artist feel like something makes them do what they do. And this moment is so precious when it happens.
      It`s not human. Lots of the classic antique artist said they have been just the medium, just the the one whot got chosen to have the right idea by the right time.

      Read: The war of art, to learn more about that. If you like.

      Greetz
      Nico – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R18ukiNNZcs

  23. Michael Bowen June 21, 2011 at 5:46 pm #

    Damn! I like it when you get fiesty Chase. It’s about time for another “no f*cking around post.” It makes me smile to hear you tell the populace to challenge convention and to break shit while doing it! I have been following you for some time now Chase and you and your associates have finally pushed me to the edge, and I have to take the jump. I quite my job in El Paso, Tx and will be moving to Seattle on the 30th. I’ve been a fine dining chef for 13yrs. I love it but don’t feel it’s my true calling. So being the kind of guy whose not afraid of a challenge and scared shitless of not living the fullest life possible. I decided to take the jump and live my life through a lens. Thanks for all the motivation Chase but, remember. People really do listen to you, hell you’ll soon have me in your city running around trying to break some shit. Thanks again.

  24. Michael Bowen June 21, 2011 at 5:48 pm #

    Damn! I like it when you get fiesty Chase. It’s about time for another “no f*%king around post.” It makes me smile to hear you tell the populace to challenge convention and to break shit while doing it! I have been following you for some time now Chase and you and your associates have finally pushed me to the edge, and I have to take the jump. I quite my job in El Paso, Tx and will be moving to Seattle on the 30th. I’ve been a fine dining chef for 13yrs. I love it but don’t feel it’s my true calling. So being the kind of guy whose not afraid of a challenge and scared shitless of not living the fullest life possible. I decided to take the jump and live my life through a lens. Thanks for all the motivation Chase but, remember. People really do listen to you, hell you’ll soon have me in your city running around trying to break some shit. Thanks again.

  25. Jordan Stead June 21, 2011 at 6:02 pm #

    Excellent post that defies boundaries and time. Thanks for posting. Retweeted.

    Cordially,

    Jordan Stead

  26. Thom Gourley June 21, 2011 at 7:14 pm #

    Great inspiration, Chase! And exactly right – a whole shitload of photographers out there. How to break out? I think you’re right. This is what I need to figure out for myself.

    Thanks and all the best!

    Thom

  27. CallumW June 21, 2011 at 7:17 pm #

    I like chips …. :)

  28. TimR June 21, 2011 at 11:32 pm #

    Maybe in honoring past photographers, we should honor the status quos they blew apart in their day. It’s usually the reason they stand out enough to receive the honor.

  29. Paul Antoine June 22, 2011 at 2:20 am #

    Thanks Chase, seems you’re always there with good advice when I need it…
    Keep inspiring us !

  30. David G. June 22, 2011 at 3:49 am #

    I see you are leading by example here Chase.

  31. Immo Fuchs Fotografie June 22, 2011 at 3:52 am #

    I guess, or hope, that one main question in an creative life is “do i have, what it takes?”. I’m asking this questions every day and still get no answer, but I alway try changing the way it is and get one step after the other. Thanks Chase, for this post, again. And sorry, if my english is a bit… foreign :-)

  32. fas June 22, 2011 at 6:02 am #

    Well said Chase. But its not always that easy :(

  33. Chase June 22, 2011 at 6:13 am #

    Ive got a circle of friends, youve got a circle of friends. All photogs have a circle of friends and all want to be the shizznit amongst their circle which is their world.

    They think if they are the shizzle amongst their friends, they have made it.

    People need to leave convention behind and just go.

    Im so frickin tired of the “photography industry” its all a numbers game now. Money, making a buck off someone or your adoring followers, which gear you have, how much gear you have.

    Most of those “made it” photogs I wouldnt pay to shoot my wifes portrait, theyre stank.

    Your post is dead on. I dont care about what low-tech or hi-tech rig your sporting, dont point me to your blog about it, show me your moment. Dang it. Good post Chase, you got me going.

  34. Charlie June 22, 2011 at 8:04 am #

    The SQ is like a warm blanket on a cold Edmonton night.

    What is your photographic vision? None
    What is your brand vision? None
    What is your business? None
    What is your marketing? Me
    What are your effing goals? To Shoot

    It hurts my brain to think today…………good post anyway :)

    Love your Blog Chase.

  35. Katie Wilkins June 22, 2011 at 10:37 am #

    Love it when you get saucy!! Exactly what I needed to hear, as per usual. Thanks.

  36. Sergiu June 23, 2011 at 1:23 am #

    Truth be told, creativity is something you’re born with…or not.It’s not something you pick up along the way.Getting inspiration from others , those you admire in general, is a good thing but it has to have boundries.Actually being original in your work takes huge effort and involves locking yourself in a room with…yourslef.I’ve been trying to get my inspiration somwhere else for a while.Start with books, movies, music, whatever.I think this kind of stuff brings you closer to who you really are a an artist/photographer than the work of others you have as rolemodels.

  37. The Creative Ham June 23, 2011 at 11:55 am #

    I agree. To some degree, it’s good to be uncomfortable and to push yourself.

  38. DanielKphoto June 23, 2011 at 12:49 pm #

    Absolutely true Chase. And that’s something I need to work on a little bit at this point. So thanks for reminding me of that, and I’m going to try to take some chances. Thanks a lot Chase :)

  39. Cooper Ray June 25, 2011 at 7:18 pm #

    So very true!
    Chase – as always – bringing important topics to light and taking action… this will continue to ring in my mind.
    -Cooper

  40. Shaleen December 23, 2011 at 11:58 am #

    I am bit late to the party, but I love this. It made me think. Fear is a powerful force that cripples many and prevent them from leaving the SQ.

    Thanks for the “luck 13″ posts.

  41. Alexander Petrov February 2, 2012 at 4:08 pm #

    I love your posts, Mr. Jarvis.
    This one is particularly inspiring & cojones-kicking.
    Sometimes I wonder how do you get through to us so well. I wonder if you perhaps sit down & write something to yourself in your hip little journal with some coffee stains & photoshoot sketches. & then you just feel like sharing, so you go ahead & share it with the whole world.
    Either way, you are pretty darn good at what you do, photography, blogging, business. & again I wonder if that’s cuz you don’t take the life’s no’s. Or if it’s just staying true to yourself. Or a heck of a lot of luck topping off your talent…
    Thank you for the post, man!

  42. Carl D February 2, 2012 at 4:40 pm #

    “what are your effing goals”? Awesome.

    So spell it out, Chase – what are YOUR “effing goals”?

    Great post.

    Cheers

    Carl

  43. clare February 2, 2012 at 4:59 pm #

    effing great thanks!

  44. Bryson Steele February 2, 2012 at 5:19 pm #

    LOVE IT!!! great post!

  45. 7 February 2, 2012 at 5:53 pm #

    Amazing post, I couldnt agree more. This is the #1 reason why I cleared out my scheduled on Jan 3rd and booked my first trip to London and Paris to just go out and shoot. Im sure my camera and I will find inspiration when we get across the pond!

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