You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. – Jim Rohn I firmly believe this. I’ve seen it play out so clearly in my own life as I’ve worked to surround myself with people that challenge and encourage me to be my best. Gina, Emily and I had a great conversation about mentors when we were in San Francisco a couple weeks ago. A vital part of the Making Things Happen intensive is to identify toxic people in your life and work to turn down the volume on their influence – or completely cut them out. 1. Identify who you surround yourself with. 2. Work to cut the toxicity. 3. Add positive people and study success. Studying success is so easy nowadays – whether reading biographies of people who have lived great lives, following them on twitter, reading their blogs, books, Google Google Google, sending them an email, booking a session, attending workshops or learning from them first hand – the options are endless. Building your “inner circle” means having great mentors to challenge you and stretch your creative potential.
My mentor list: my pastor, best friends, Ari and – among several others – my friend, Jeremy Cowart. I love learning from his actions: creativity, humility, integrity, humor, passion for his family and an insatiable drive to leave the world be a better place than when he found it. Voices of Haiti and Help Portrait are just two of his many ventures that started as “crazy” ideas in the middle of the night and turned into international movements. Jeremy never ceases to inspire. Help Portrait is December 4. Get involved in something powerful this holiday season:
I’ve loved getting to know him over the last two years since we first met when he was passing through NC on the road with Britney Spears.
We were so blessed to have Jeremy shoot our V2 cover and an eight page spread that I still can’t get over.
It was incredible to watch him work.
…and see the final product come to life.
Stunning. At our V2 launch party I also discovered something many of you may not know about Mr. Cowart: he is an insanely good breakdancer. No, really. Do not challenge this guy. He will win.
I’m not even a photographer, and I’ve never been so excited about this opportunity to learn what makes him tick. LifeFinder, Jeremy’s new educational DVD, is about to launch and he has given me two copies to give away! But first, the inside scoop from the man himself:
Why did you create LifeFinder? For 5 years now, ever since I started, I’ve been asked by so many people “Can I come on a shoot and watch you do your thing?”. I’ve always had to turn them down due to the complicated logistics involved. I wanted to finally put something out there to help people out. My mission is to get people thinking about Photography again. I’m getting a little weary hearing people lose focus on the work itself. I mean, yes marketing is important. Social media is important, branding, logos, websites, etc.. But make sure your work is good first! It seems like this message is getting lost. I want to help people re-focus on creating amazing images.
If you could boil those 4 hours of footage down to your best advice for photographers and creatives in once sentence, what would it be? Well, in vein of the title, “LifeFinder“, I’d tell creatives to go find their passion and truly pursue it with everything they have. Life is too short to be doing something you’re not in love with. This may sound like a generic answer but it’s true. I get so sad when I see people investing 8-10 hours a day into something they’re not interested in. I was there once too. But I took the risk. I jumped. And I’ve never regretted it for one second.
What has been your most memorable experience as an artist? Gosh, these questions are TOUGH!! Well done. My first initial reaction to this question is my “Voices of Haiti” project. I’ve never experienced every emotion at once. That’s what Haiti was for me. I was in culture-shock, devastated, grieving, hopeful, joyful (for brief moments), worried, frightened, disgusted, you name it. It was a very, very surreal experience.
Which image is your favorite that you have created recently and why? Well, on that same note, I’d have to say this image from Haiti. (And hey, it’s a wedding photo! How appropriate It’s possibly the most powerful photo I’ve taken and it has nothing to do with me. I mean, for this young couple to stand there just days after the earthquake, amongst their destroyed church behind them (where they were supposed to get married that day), their home destroyed, their relatives missing and to send a message that says “Love Conquers All??? Are you kidding me? Whew. This photo gives me chills to this day.
What’s next? 2011 will continue my scattered ways of pursuing multiple things at once. I want to develop some iPhone apps. I want to hit the reset button on my photography career. I want to do a lot more fine art. I want to get started on a book idea that’s been on the backburner. I’d like to pursue a new idea with Help-Portrait. And most importantly I want to get in as much time with my family as possible. You know, just a few things haha.
Thank you so much, Jeremy, for being such an encouragement to me and so many others. Life is definitely too short not to harness the passion we were created to share. Thank you for doing just that!
To win one of two copies of LifeFinder before it is released on December 14th, leave a comment telling us what inspires your creativity. What gets you fired up?
**UPDATED** WINNERS (chosen at random): Zachary Long and Carl Spring Photo. Please email me to claim your DVD’s! Thank you to everyone who entered! Such inspiration!