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Recently, several people and events in my life have caused me to really think hard about my photographic career. This is a tough post for me to write because it requires me to expose a side of myself I rarely show to anyone. Let’s start at the beginning.

I’m an old war horse. I’ve seen it all and done it all and sometimes it’s easy to get cynical. But then, sometimes a little magic happens and I keep going forward.

Usually the magic comes in the form of a big trip like my grizzly bear shoot last August off the Katmai Coast in Alaska. Sometimes the magic comes in the form of a great shot like my Cranes in the Fire Mist shot. Or sometimes it’s just a big sale, or two or three.

But these last few months, the inspiration and spark I need are coming from some different quarters.

First, I read and then re-read Dane Sanders’ great book Fast Track Photographer. Even though the book says it’s for wedding photographers, it’s really for anyone who is, wants to be, or might be a professional photographer.

I have to confess that I saw myself in that book sometimes as the guy you don’t want to be. It wasn’t all bad. I’ve been doing many of the positive things Dane talks about for decades. But still, there were a few places where I said “ouch.” It caused me to do some self-examination.

Then, I started paying more attention to my friend Rick Sammon. His attitude is ALWAYS upbeat. He’s ALWAYS positive. He’s the sweetest guy in the world. He’s always trying to have fun and to make sure our audience does too. He doesn’t even seem to notice the trolls. He just keeps writing and teaching and helping. He doesn’t miss a beat. He just doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. Obviously, if you know me, you know I do have a mean bone or two, or three. Time for more self-examination.

Lastly, I had the high honor of leading a photo walk in Portland’s Washington Park as part of Scott Kelby’s Worldwide Photo Walk. Quite simply it was a very moving experience. The people who came to that walk came with joy in their hearts. They were excited, happy and upbeat. They were looking forward to that day like none other. Here, I get to do these things all the time. I get to go to exotic locations and shoot or teach or speak and I even get paid for it. These folks took their Saturday morning and devoted it to supporting the photo walk and having a good time. While I was there to help them, it turned out they helped me.

I realized the joy they had was at least partly missing from my approach to photography. Part of that is easy to explain. For me it’s a job. I make my living with a camera and have for a very long time. So it’s not fresh or new. But still, now that I do so much on the Web, the side of me that has to deal with the Internet trolls, the haters, the wannabes, etc., gets too bogged down in the negative. Photography is supposed to be fun. These folks helped remind of this fact.

So I guess the point of this post is to say thanks. Thanks to Dane for writing about me in his book and pointing out my flaws without even knowing it. Thanks to Rick for always having a smile in his heart and for reminding me that being a little kid about photography is the right attitude. And thanks to Scott Kelby, Kelby Media and the folks who came with me to Portland for the photo walk. You were all and are all an inspiration.

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This post sponsored by the Digital SLR Store