Follow your bliss

For years my parents told me “Follow your bliss.” They also said, “You can never tell what a day will bring.” Those words rang so true when gathering photos to use on my website and blog.

The vast majority of my images are still slides (my career started long before digital photography was even a glimmer in a lensman’s eye), and I was also one of the last film holdouts in the auto industry. Fortunately the images are well organized, so as I put together art for the site my web designer said he wanted some images of me. I pulled a file I hadn’t looked at in ages—stuff relating to my career. In it was a manila envelope labeled “First Photos Ever Taken,” which contained some shoots from my Photography 1A class at Foothill College in the late 1970s. Not surprisingly, many of the subjects were cars.

The print and grading sheet found above were from our fourth assignment; if I remember correctly the subject matter was “Speed.” I was seriously into cars back then, so my cousin and I drove several hundred miles to some historic races going on at Buttonwillow, a race track in southern California that was truly out in the middle of nowhere. Not many people were there, so I stood on the side of the track, doing my best to take what I would later learn was a panning shot.

The one I submitted was of this Ferrari 250 GTO Series II. The title of the print is “$50,000 Worth of Auto at 110 mph”; at the time of this writing, that car is worth a good $25 million or more! But what really caught my attention was the grade. The technical aspects are circled, the professor emphasizing “excellent” with the word “truly.”

Here's how my college professor graded the image seen at the beginning of this blog entry. His observation of "truly" foresaw a career I could not have imagined at the time!

Here’s how my college professor graded the image seen at the beginning of this blog entry. His observation of “truly” foresaw a career I could not have imagined at the time!

I was dumbfounded when I saw that, and burst out laughing. I took the print and assignment sheet downstairs, and showed them to Mom, who was visiting. “Talk about prophetic,” I said, “look at this!” Here I was, looking back three-plus decades later after shooting and driving god knows how many things, at a college photo assignment I had completely forgotten about. That grading sheet and print clearly foretold what I would end up doing.

So, if there is any takeaway from this, and really from my blog and website, it is this: Follow your bliss. Do what you love. They don’t teach this in college when it really should be the first lesson everybody learns. When I made the switch from financial services to what I do today, it literally took me about a year to get used to being paid to do something I loved. My accountant immediately picked up on this and said, “I will never worry about you not making it. You love what you do too much, that any impediment you encounter will be a minor setback at most.”

Two decades later, he is still being proven right. Do what you love, for very rarely is it work!

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