I want to make this type of content for the rest of my life
Have you ever had dinner with somebody you don’t know?
It’s an opportunity to learn about someone who has an entirely different perspective on life than you. There’s ample room for both of you to learn something new.
An older gentleman once invited me into his home for dinner, and I realized something about my future. Specifically, I recognized where I’d like to be when I was his age.
My vision came when he showed me all of the photographs on his wall.
They weren’t the usual run-of-the-mill family photos like my mom has framed all over the place. They were photographs of the places he’s been. He took them all himself.
He wasn’t ever an artist in his life. Only recently did he pick up the craft.
His style is unique too. He used simple editing software to make his photos look like paintings. He described the process to me in simple terms. He didn’t want to give me all his secrets.
He is the embodiment of many people's dreams. To me, he’s a success story. Not because he’s married, has all the money in the world, or a lovely house.
It’s because he has all the time in the world to create whatever he wants. It’s a goal for younger creatives to strive toward.
But first, you must pay your dues.
Most of us don’t inherit the farm.
Inheritance is a curse. It’s a get-out-of-jail-free card that still allows you to collect your $200 as you make your rounds through the board.
We all inherit something, some more than others. It’s not something to feel bad about. Recognize your blessings, but also realize that inheritance is a trap. You’ll be stuck in the same town for 26 years like me if you don’t take a leap and make a name for yourself.
Paying your dues means working a job you don’t necessarily like so you can obtain financial freedom in your later years. It means living with your parents to save money and make sure you’re debt-free.
This article isn’t about finances; thinking about the future is something I’ve focused on lately. And now that I have a lofty amount of savings and other nest eggs to fall back on if I need them, I feel the pull of the world calling me elsewhere.
Putting yourself in a successful position is complicated.
I’m a working stiff for now. I get up at 6 A.M., and I commute to my job.
It’s a pretty sweet gig, but in my angst, it leaves me thinking about the future already.
After telling my dad about my first day, we got to talking about Walter Mitty and the scene with the photographer who flies on the plane. He’s standing on the top of the wing, Ansel Adams style.
Then I showed him a photoshopped version of Chris Burkard’s recent volcano photo in Iceland. Haters will say it’s photoshopped. As I showed him, he laughed, and I was inspired, knowing he’s close to retirement age. I said this to him:
“When I’m settled into retirement I’m going to see a place on social media that I like and just go. I’ll travel there simply to take photos.”
Simple. Purposeful. Something for me to be proud of. That’s the type of content I want to make for the rest of my life.
At this point, I feel like I've seen every exotic location through my phone, but I still want to visit these places so that I can capture my personal experience.
That’s what writing is too. Every basic story has been told, yet we still write. Someone has made an article just like this one, but I didn’t write it. Their article doesn’t have my perspective.
Create content that you’re proud of, and folks will follow.
You are unique. Literally, no one else will ever write the exact words as you.
Do what makes you happy.
Did someone say “cheese?”
Almost a year ago, I started writing because I wanted a new way to make money. The pressure to pump out content burned me out like a faulty match.
I almost quit cold turkey, but I found myself coming back to the keyboard on days I was sad, or mad, or even stoked on life. I realized creating blog posts revitalized me. There’s a feeling I still can’t put to words when I allow myself 25 minutes with my headphones to let my thoughts pour out of me.
I also like taking photos, but I don’t take them to go through the motions. In fact, I’d hardly call myself a photographer at this point because I have to wipe the dust off my camera every time I use it.
Luckily, that hobby is built off of a pure passion for art. Photography, to me, isn’t about making money. However, it just so happens that one’s inspirations often turn into opportunities.
Travel somewhere every day.
I follow some 100 photographers on Instagram.
Some shoot landscape, while others shoot portraits.
My favorite photographers are the ones who shoot various subjects. You can tell who took the photo based on their unique style. These photographers share something in common: they explore their immediate surroundings as much as they travel internationally.
Your dreams do not limit you.
Not all photographers have the budget to travel to the ends of the earth to take pictures. Hell, the last time I left the country was in 2019, before the pandemic. It seems like a lifetime ago.
I used to feel limited by my hometown. I felt creatively stunted because I saw the same sights every day. Then I decided to try something. I took a telephoto lens and went into my backyard to shoot the planes taking off. It was a creatively invigorating process.
I sat in my backyard, in a complete state of flow, and realized my efforts were completely worth it. I wasn’t stressed about money or my future. I was present with myself when I tried something new.
Simply walking down a different street, you don’t usually walk is a creative catalyst. New experiences, big and small, generate a sense of novelty.
Create something you’re proud to share with others over drinks.
The old man with the photos that looked like paintings poured me a glass of wine and asked me about my startup. I was in the house with my business partner because he served them at their favorite restaurant.
It was a simple, unexpected moment to be there with them. I didn’t know these people, but they were happy to have us.
I want more moments like that, and I want to share them with good people.
I’m working hard now to manifest my nice apartment with a record player, wooden table, and blown-up photos of all my favorite places. The images are taken by me, of course.
None of this is necessary, of course. One doesn’t need anything special to create good content worth sharing. Skip the dinner party and post your work on the Internet. Your true fans are out there.
Give them time, and they will find you.
Ihope I’m not a crotchety old man when I grow up. I’m enough of a Larry David as it is. I don’t want to waste any energy being a critic.
It’ll happen, and I can’t help it because it’s my personality, but that doesn’t mean I can’t try.
Along the same lines, I want to be a better creator by shifting my perspective to that of the patient retiree. This person doesn't have all the time in the world to live their life, yet, they do.
Their days are open for exploration. Their hearts and minds are available to spend the rest of their days creating what they want.
Even though most of us create on the side because we like the hustle or do it for fun, we can trick our brains into working for us by appreciating what’s in front of us.
If you create something and you want to put it on your wall, please do it. Let me be the first to know what you did. It’s something to be proud of because you did it, and no one can take it from you.