YOU CAN DO THIS

I’m seeing it again. There’s a lot of “the sky is falling” chatter going around amongst photographers about the state of our industry. I’ve written about this topic before here. Something happened yesterday that compelled me to write about it again.

Yesterday, one of Australia’s most talented and respected photographers closed the doors of their business. This sparked a whole new round of hand-wringing and worry from photographers online. It seems that a lot of photographers are feeling the same pressure.

In this blog post I’m going to talk a little about that – not the specific photographer, but the worry and pessimism – and a bit about how it relates to Katie being in Nepal right now.

First, let me say this. Everyone has a different definition of success. Family should always come before business.

Important personal and family reasons aside … I’ve written this for photographers who are struggling for business reasons. I feel compelled to offer some thoughts and words of encouragement to my fellow photographers – and anyone else who is part of an industry that has dramatically changed in the last few years.

THE ONLY CONSTANT IS CHANGE

If you’re a veteran photographer, a newcomer to the industry, or anywhere in between – and your business is struggling … please please please know these 12 things:

1. Everything has changed. The “good old days” of photography that we yearn for? They are never coming back.

2. Taking pretty photos and putting them on the internet is not special any more.

3. We can’t control advances in technology that make it easy for everyone to be a photographer.

4. We can’t control or change the general public’s usage and adoption of this technology.

5. The only thing we can control and change … is ourselves and our business.

6. We can’t press pause and stop the changes that are happening.

7. We can only change how we react and adapt to those changes.

8. Clients and consumers don’t care that we have bills to pay. No successful company markets from that position anyway.

9. It’s still possible to run a successful photography business – a thriving one – but only if we evolve and adapt.

10. It’s never going to be easy. The only constant … is change.

11. We all need to up our games. Everything we do needs to be better. Average will not cut it any more.

12. There are solutions to the problems and challenges that you’re facing in your business.

PLEASE DON’T GIVE UP

Unless you have personal/family reasons to do so … PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don’t give up until you have gotten help from someone who knows how to run a rockin’ kick-ass business. Someone who knows how to stand out in this insanely saturated market. And someone who can teach you how.

There are specific, practical and repeatable things that EVERY photographer can do to have the best shot at success.

But only if you’re willing, and your life circumstances allow you to:

– Do the hard work
– Change
– Evolve
– Adapt
– Keep pushing
– Keep striving
– Ask for help
– Stay curious “Surely there is a better way?”
– Keep believing that what you do matters

It will still be hard … but it’s not hopeless.

Please know that … from the bottom of my heart … it’s hard, but it is far from hopeless.

KATIE IN NEPAL

Katie (my wonderful wife) is in Nepal right now.

She’s using her photography to rescue little girls – some as young as 5 years old – from sex-trafficking … and to help prevent them from being taken or sold in the first place.

When Katie is away in Nepal I often don’t hear from her for days. Sometimes a week. That’s tough for us. We’re usually side-by-side 24/7, constantly sharing our thoughts and feelings with each other.

Yesterday I got a message from her.

26 precious girls arrived at the hostel, on a bus from one of the poorest areas of Nepal. An 18 hour bus ride. I saw one photo … and the condition of these girls – not from the bus ride, from their life – broke my heart into pieces.

But … these 26 girls are now safe.

Katie’s photography played a part in making that happen. Even just one girl is cause for celebration, but 26!

3 years ago … Katie was burned out and bed-ridden for 4 months after collapsing from exhaustion. I found her unconscious in the shower. I thank God every day that I was home that morning.

Her business did that to her. Katie came to hate photography because of what it did to her. It’s taken years for her to recover, and years for her love of photography to return.

On top of all that … Katie battles depression and also has a severe anxiety disorder.

Yet, there she is. In Nepal. Using the only weapon she has – her camera – to fight back against the horrible things that go on in this world.

Katie didn’t give up. We don’t want you to give up either.

THE REASON

The main reason we can do this world changing stuff is because we have accepted all of the things listed above … and our business is successful because of it.

This mindset is the foundation that our business is built on. A foundation that helps us run a rockin’ business which gives us the time and money to live a fun life, and to do what we can to change the world.

But the biggest reason Katie is Nepal right now is because she didn’t give up.

Here’s what we so desperately want you to know …

YOU CAN DO THIS

The world needs you.
The world needs your art. Your voice.
The world needs you to use your camera/talent/business/life to make it a better place.

Please don’t give up.

You can do this.

Katie

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61 Comments
  1. […] many of you know, giving back is something that’s very important to us, and something we’ve actively done for years. […]
  2. cv love said:
    So beautiful
  3. [...] recently read a post that I agree with 100% and it prompted me to write this one, but let’s start with a pretty [...]
  4. Really well written Matt - I hope it inspires those that need that kind of boost at the moment. Keep up the great work!
  5. [...] explained a small part of my journey in last month’s “You Can Do This” blog post. The overwhelming response from that post has shown me that sharing more – not less [...]
  6. Tira J said:
    Thank you for this post! All wonderful reminders that this world is so much bigger than us and life has to much more to offer than worrying about what others are doing. If we focus on ourselves, family, our craft, our clients, then our business will flourish. May God Bless you both! xoxo
  7. beautiful and encouraging. thank you
  8. I hadn't heard of you guys before today, but I saw this post linked on the Brand Camp FB page. What much needed words of encouragement! Thank you! xo
  9. Yes Yes YES You nailed it!!!
  10. Lynne said:
    Wow! I have to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. I too, like so many other commenters, struggle with whether or not to keep doing this. I LOVE photographing and know I could never stop, but your words of wisdom, and Katie's determination, have given me hope. Katie is amazing and what she is doing is incredible. Thank you Thank you Thank you for keeping my dream alive!
  11. Thank you so very much for posting this. My eyes welled up it so inspiring. Its exactly what I needed to read right now.
  12. Thank you, thank you...for sharing your heart, your struggles, and giving the push to carry on... I will be sharing on my Facebook... could I post a link to your blog from my blog? I wouldn't want to do that without your permission... Again, thank you. I am so inspired.
  13. So, So beautiful! Thank you for caring about your peers! Huge hug to Katie!
  14. Danyial Rock said:
    This post ,which i found via an FB share., slammed into my soul today. The timing is uncanny really. Just thank you.
  15. Kate said:
    Through some random connection on Facebook, I came across this article today. And while by some standards I'm just getting "started" in this business, I have frequent days where I want to bail. So, thank you for a friendly kick in the rear to all of us stranger readers out here. We all need an 'at a boy sometimes. And, to Katie: thank you. Thank you for telling their story - and for revealing to the public at large what this heinous crime looks like. May your images spark such outrage, that the world no longer permits this horrible injustice. Blessings and strength to you during the process.
  16. Christi said:
    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
  17. Shari said:
    thank you. thank you. thank you. from the bottom of my heart!
  18. barbara said:
    First of all thank you for sharing such a personal story and how Katie overcame such a big hurdle. This was a great post, great things to remember I am fairly new and am still feeling my way so the points you brought up are great remembers for me along the way! God bless Katie for doing what she is doing, being a voice for those who have none! thank you!
  19. Abi said:
    All I can simply say is.. thank you. There's never been a better time to come across something I so badly needed to read. I've been battling with this for YEARS. Military moves have not been kind to my business building. Neither has the over-saturation of military spouses who are 'photographers' at overseas bases. It made it nearly impossible to pick up my camera sometimes, they disgusted me so. I was MADE to do this, I cannot quit, it drives me INSANE trying to STOP seeing things as a photograph rather than how they just ARE in a passing second. I have been completely and totally lost, overwhelmed with searching for the answer to the question, "if I don't do this, what else am I supposed to do?" Did you know you can walk about for years and never answer that, even half way? I can vouch for it. We're out of the military now. Fairly stationary where we are. I've recently joined a co-op studio and am doing a complete and total redesign of everything. I've taken down my sites, blogs, no cards. I have nothing to show for business-wise at this very moment. This is my last try. I am hopeful that this is IT and I can finally make it work for good. I've been burned out just the same. I understand very much. My husband always tells me he doesn't think I'm meant to take photos for a career because it makes me hate it. It doesn't make me hate it, it just saddens me to see it spit on so much from both sides of the street. I will NOT let the people who devalue this art take away from me, the very thing I was put here to do. Here's hoping all those of us who TRULY live for it, can hang on until the novelty wears off for the general public. Thank you for taking the time to write this. You never know what your words can mean to a total stranger across the world. :)
  20. Julie Zhu said:
    This was great. You guys really know how to connect to the reader. I was recently in Kalimpong, near Nepal and would love to go back and make a difference somehow through photography. How is Katie doing that exactly? :)
  21. dude.....your wife is a legend !
  22. Peggy Farley said:
    Thank you so much for your encouraging words. May GOD bless you for what you are doing for HIS children!
  23. tina said:
    Such a fine line between work and pleasure. It is a job though and a great example of how amazing it can be
  24. Kerryn said:
    Wow.... I so needed to hear that right now. Times are tough at present and these encouraging words has given me hope and determination to keep forging ahead...
  25. Han said:
    This gave me goosebumps and spoke right into my heart. I believe this too. We need to move with the tides - not fight it - for we will only drown. I keep on saying that I just can't make things work to get to one of your workshops....but after reading this - I am GOING to make it happen. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. And for Katie in Nepal....the world needs more people like Katie. You are one lucky man - as is the world. X
  26. Sara said:
    I agree with this 10000%. Thank you both for being a constant uplifting force.
  27. jane said:
    I needed to read this this week/month. My clients' feedback keep me shooting too.
  28. Kerry said:
    God Bless you for your work...
  29. Sandy said:
    Thank you for reaching out. It is so generous of you. And this was exactly what I needed to hear right now.
  30. Warren said:
    So inspiring Matt. I'm printing your 12 item list and sticking up above my monitor now.
  31. Thankyou. I needed to hear that today.
  32. Tim Allen said:
    Soo good. Soo soo good. I don't really have words. But such a bold move for both of you. Well done.
  33. Just wanted to add my appreciation of your wisdom and inspiration Matt. you are both incredible people and attending your workshop was one of the best things I've done for my business and personal life.
  34. Katy said:
    Thank you, Matt. And wow, Katie - a huge thank you to you. That is what the heart of photography is about.
  35. fabulous... inspiring... thanks for sharing your thoughts & putting it out into the world. we can do this!
  36. Alejandra said:
    Thank you x
  37. Belinda said:
    Thank you for the push I needed, yet again you have inspired me to make sure that this love for photography that I have doesn't die. You guys are ace ;o)
  38. Thank you Matt (and Katie). Such great words, wisdom, love and encouragement. Love you two.
  39. Jill said:
    Thank you so much for this. Inspiring to say the least.
  40. Annie said:
    I love you both. Thank you.
  41. so beautiful and inspiring...thank you for following your hearts and for sharing this.
  42. Cindy Lee said:
    Always inspiring Matt. Your words of wisdom and encouragement will be a source of strength to many. Thanks for sharing .. I'm bookmarking this page to refer back to .. probably a lot!!!
  43. Matt your post is so reassuring to keep moving forward and embrace change. There are few in this industry you say it like it is and provide a positive way forward, and thankfully you do. Katie's help in Nepal is truly inspirational. I can only imaging how happy everyone is saving these 26 girls.
  44. Delia said:
    That was beautifully said. Well done Katie for getting through it all (and Matt, I'm sure you are a great support person)
  45. incredibly inspiring, thanks for sharing matt + katie!
  46. Jacqui said:
    I felt so upset last night! Thanks Matt! Awsome words of inspiration! Time for a reshuffle for me! Much love to you and K xx
  47. Robyn said:
    Thanks for saying what needed to be said during this time of uncertainty and for saying it so eloquently.
  48. Mark G said:
    See, this is why we love you guys and are privileged to call you family (even if that "family" isn't blood per se but was formed via music which resulted into love)...
  49. Rebekah said:
    Inspiring! I am definitely going to come back to this whenever I feel like giving up on my photography! Very nicely put :)
  50. Kurt Stockham said:
    Matt well said! May I say that the world is a better place with you and your beautiful wife Kaite amongst us!! Thank you for being so open with your lives! Take care and I hope that we never see your doors close!!
  51. Liz Jury said:
    Wow Matt... just wow... Thanks so much for posting this... A lot of people are going through tough times... thank you for sharing so much of yourselves too... People like me look at people like you, who seem to have so much going for them. We see the smiles and great talent and driving the world in front of you as my mum used to say, but knowing that this also comes with the strength of not giving up? That will mean so much to a lot of people... me included. Big ole fan in NZ xx
  52. Kara said:
    You guys are completely inspiring :)
  53. Amy Steed said:
    Thank you for this Matt. It's so great to have people such as yourself and Katie in the business that want to encourage and help others to succeed. We could use more people like you in this industry.
  54. Amazing. Not only do you have a kick-ass business, you guys are kick-ass people. Thanks for your honesty and openess. Everyone can learn a thing or two from this. Thanks! :)
  55. Carolina Souza said:
    Amazing post it ha really encouraged me to keep moving forward... I was wondering if i could get some more information about this work Kate is doing in Nepal, are they in need of volunteers? I would love to help! Thank you so very much and hope to hear from you :)
  56. Bravo Matt & Katie! Forever inspiring.x
  57. Vania said:
    I love this article. I have too have been feeling the weight of all that you mention-- mainly my struggle is that as an artist I feel I MUST produce ORIGINALITY-- and when that originality is so very easily taken away, it's crushing. I have closed my eyes to it for so long but it's hurtful. I will always strive for true ART, and that is all I can do :)
  58. Thanks Matt - as always you are an inspiration. Your words & clear thoughts are brilliant. Don't change. Thank you.
  59. Wow... this is my first time visiting, and a beautiful story. Good luck to your beautiful wife, I will keep her in my prayers.
  60. Jodie said:
    Beautifully said, beautifully written. It is a goal one day for me to meet you both,to do one of your courses. Have been following you both for a couple of years now and ultra proud for you two! You have inspired me and made me laugh a number of times.
  61. Beautifully written, perfect timing, you're wife is amazing and I so look forward to meeting you both. Thank you for taking the time to write this Jane