A Thanksgiving Wish for Photographers
My Thanksgiving wish for all those reading this is that you are not reading it on November 28th. If you are, it means you’re probably working instead of spending time with your family, which is a good news/bad news situation. If you’re working, it means you’re making money, which is good news. The bad news is that you’re not with your family on this day, which may be unavoidable if you’re traveling.
This is a day that celebrates optimism and professional photographers are, or at least should be, optimists but many of them (me included) have a pessimistic side that echoes some of the best business advice I ever received. In his books and seminars, the legendary Don Feltner advises to “expect the best, but prepare for the worst.” And no matter how bad you think you have it, somebody else—that “other guy” that Arlo Guthrie sang about—has it worse.
Start this day by being thankful for the material things your hard work provided you and your family. Sometimes the quest for material goods can become the main focus of work but this kind of mentality isn’t found in photographers who tend to be passionate about what they do and would do it even if there were no financial reward. When you think about corporate wage slaves shackled to their desk with golden handcuffs, be thankful for that passion.
Be thankful for the technology that makes it possible to do what you do, when you want, and where you want to do it. This is also a day to be thankful for friends and one of mine recently left corporate America to join the legions of freelancers. In a recent e-mail he wrote: “I’m working out of the house and had no idea how sweet this could be. Two less hours on the road. Home-cooked meals. Fewer distractions (all right, ‘different’ distractions).”
Lastly, be thankful to your parents and what they’ve done for you. These days it’s fashionable to talk of dysfunctional families but parents have always done the best they could for their kids, given the times they live in. My mother wasn’t a Soccer Mom and our family didn’t even own a car, let alone a minivan but when we were kids she was lots of fun to be around. My Dad who was a man of few words, set the stage for my adult life when he took me to the steel mill were he worked in the open hearth—well before take your-kid-to-work day was fashionable—and in a sweeping gesture that said “some day this will all be yours,” told me instead “Son, don’t work here.” That’s one of the few times a son actually took his father’s advice. On this day, I miss them both.
Even if you’re working today, take a few moments to call your parents, your children, and your spouse and tell them you’re thankful that they’re in your life.