If you are anything like me, then you have been told more than once that you are lucky for your successes, that somehow the universe conspired to give you a chance that most others simply do not get. This is a powerful self-defeating statement if I ever heard one. It is not any sort of luck that anyone achieves the goals they set out to accomplish. It is drive, passion, focus, and hard work that will get the job done every time. Luck may play a part, but try not to give it too much credit.
I saw the fault in this idea of luck bringing me what I have earned fully realised the moment I started editing the photos from the concert I photographed for the Canadian rock band The Tea Party. Here in front of me was the proof that my hard work was paying off, that I was smart not to wait for one of my favourite bands of all time to discover my talents and reach out to me. I made it to the side of the stage with my camera not because of luck, but because I brought myself here personally.
I remember the moment Jeff Martin (lead singer for The Tea Party) looked over at me and gave me a thumbs up from the center of the stage, I recall the pride I felt in that moment, and as for luck, that didn’t play a part in my mind at all to be honest. I gave up so many other roads to learn my camera, I placed my time, effort and money in to this creative outlet, and I wasn’t going to let luck take that victory away from me. I worked a full time job (at one point two jobs), driving over two hours, three days a week, for a year and a half, in between jobs in order to learn about my camera, paid for my expensive gear with the efforts made my me alone.
I studied and I shot, over and over, making countless mistakes in the process, learning a new lesson every single time. I dissected why my photos to find out what worked and why some did not. I was trained as a wedding photographer with the amazing Joelene Mills (www.joelenemillsphotography.ca) as her second shooter to many diverse weddings, and here I would like to mention that she did not stumble upon her talent either. It was not luck that brought her up to the status of one of the best wedding photographers around. She has put a metric ton of hours in to achieving what she has, and to build a portfolio as vast as hers you need to study, shoot, edit and constantly try to better yourself, not to mention the hard work necessary to make the sort of money needed to fund this abusively expensive passion.
So as you can see, it is not luck that brings us to the edge of the stage that our favourite bands are playing on, or to have portfolios that others want to share. It is not luck that placed that camera in your hand, landed you your first client and elevated your professional artist title. It has always been the result of your own efforts.
This is not to say that luck does not play a part in any way whatsoever, because in life luck is always ever present to a degree, isn’t it? but luck cannot be given credit for all the hours you put in (and I have put in many). Luck is not going to overshadow what it took for me to have the confidence to even approach Stuart Chatwood (Bass play, among other instruments for The Tea Party) about shooting the first three songs of their show. The confidence I had did not just come along by chance or by luck, it was built from the effort that I put in, and the desire to get better.
In closing, my point is very simple. If I can dream it, you can achieve it, and if you wait for luck to make that happen, then you will find yourself quite unlucky indeed.
Since no one knows who says anything first, I will not credit anyone with this quote, but it sums up everything quite beautifully. “Luck looks a lot like hard work”.
Written By: Ryan Donnelly