Defining Success

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to your attention a masterpiece video from Fstoppers interviewing creme de la creme of current photographic community. Zack Arias, John Keatley, Joe Mcnally, Peter Hurley, Scott Hargis, David Burnett, Greg Heisler, David Hobby – each share their struggles, experience and goals they’ve had throughout their career, which ultimately shaped them into what they are today. I hope Patrick and Lee will not get offended if I say that this is by far the best video they have produced throughout their original series. Although the original title says “Success in Photography”, after watching this video what appealed to me most was how these successful people integrated photography to their lives and how photography changed their outlook on the world.

I find this philosophy to be practically universal for almost every career out there. If your opinion differs, I would love to hear your thoughts about it.


  1. June 5, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    Thanks for sharing.

    The best article I’ve ever read in this area if from QT:

    He describes how he built up his photography career over 10 years, while gradually switching jobs. Photography is a very tough business in which to make a living (increasingly so even), especially if you have a family to feed. His story is not just a tale, it’s very good advise.

    • June 5, 2013 at 2:51 pm

      Robin, that’s indeed a great article. I have my own thoughts about going pro in photography field and it gets very intimidating at times. I hope one day I will be able to put it all down in writing.

      • June 5, 2013 at 3:09 pm

        FYI – I’m following the same path as highlighted in the article: starting with another job that pays bills (that I actually also enjoy a lot) and then slowly build up business as your photography and name in the business grows. That way it’s a no risk way of doing things. That’s one of the reasons why I went freelance with my job: it’s allows me to juggle my double professional life. It means lots of work though leading that double profession.

        It takes time to grow a name and unless your very good & lucky with your networking (abilities), you need to give it time. My advise to people is never to rush things but to try and building it up slowly instead of putting yourself into debt and a lot of stress (in particular if you’re with a family). If you’re good, then business will grow.

        Btw, three years down the line and photography also pays my bills. For me the work is very seasonal (weddings) and so will most remain part-time for quite a while.

        Good advise I’ve had for going pro & feeling intimidated: exploit your own network and hobbies (if you like horse riding, shoot horses. If you like dancing, shoot dance events). Then think about whether and how you can make money from it. I made a list of containing 52 ways of how I could potentially make money with photography. One remained (weddings) and two remain on my wish-list of something I’d like to do in the future (selling images & training / writing books). Build up one direction, do it well, and then build up another direction a few years later. That way you keep goals and each direction feeds the other directions.

  2. 2) Tony
    June 5, 2013 at 6:45 pm

    Hi Lola, that was awesome. I’ve paid for two-day photo workshops where the instructors never think it’s important to share these insights.

    The best suggestion for success in photography: Be nice to people.

  3. 3) Volchesta Jfr
    June 6, 2013 at 8:23 pm

    There are many messages here, but ultimately they mesh together into just one. But which one? The one message that sticks with you and will be the cornerstone message for your philosophy the rest will contribute and enhance.

  4. 4) Naz Moe
    June 6, 2013 at 8:27 pm

    I think it’s a great video! Ultimately, a life without meaningful work is a sad life and in the end, when you look back, there should be no regrets. I think most of us are just too afraid to follow our passions. We opt to play it safe and choose mediocrity over greatness!

  5. 5) Jason Hu
    June 6, 2013 at 10:36 pm

    Thank you very much for the video, it was the best. Please allow me to share with others.

    • June 7, 2013 at 1:04 am

      I don’t think guys at fstoppers will mind you sharing the video – it is public.

  6. June 7, 2013 at 9:21 am

    Thank you, I have posted this to my sons facebook page. As I attempt to steer him to the opportunity of photography, I take him into the successful photo galleries of Jackson Hole and drive home these lessons, all testified to in your video – keep your eye on the ball, be frugal, stay focused. If he does so, he also could travel the world getting paid to capture beautiful light.

  7. 7) Claude Dumas
    June 8, 2013 at 9:47 am

    For me, this is just the construction of a giant misleading dream, cleverly marketed… Yes, a very tiny number of people can make it (by luck or by talent) and live from photography, but reality is that millions want to be “pros” and have the capabilities to do so. Also, this utopia of “creating your own style” does not work : again, there’s too many people on this planet doing photography and there is no way you can develop something truly unique. It could barely be done with painting, which is vastly more creative, so realistically we should not aim for it. So the conclusion is that we should do it for ourselves, to “learn and experiment the world” and to seek for beauty. And keep your daily job whatever it is…

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