"Bright Bulb" by Steve Jurvetson
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Ship or Shut Up

“What you do for a living is not be creative, what you do is ship.” Seth Godin

At the bottom of this post, you will find a video recently posted by a good friend of mine who owns small game publishing house. He and his partner are well-respected in their industry for delivering quality products that their audience love. So, when he posted this as a call to all creatives, I had to make time to watch.

I wasn’t disappointed.

As creatives, we live and die by our ability to see the world, real or imagined, differently than the average person. However, we also have a tendency to focus on our vision and our process, often times to the detriment of our deliverables. We want everything to be “just so”.

This did not truly hit home for me until I started the long overdue process of consolidating old photo libraries in anticipation of my move from Aperture to Lightroom. As I dug through my digital stacks, I found lots of personal side projects. Some of these were experiments that ultimately resulted in a dead end. But, just as many were viable projects that were put on the back burner (and forgotten) because client work took precedent. Were it not for the unsexy, very technical process of migration, most would have remained forgotten.

As I move forward with my migration, Godin’s words seem terribly important to me. Though trained as an artist, I realized I become to comfortable living in my technical, logical “left brain“.

For the past five years, so much of the focus of my “creative” work has been on the technical side of the business. I show up on location, execute the shoot and hand off the resulting digital assets. My entire focus, while on the job, is to ensure the technical viability, if not perfection, of those assets. I set the table for other creatives down the pipe, but I consistently set aside my own creative projects.

The rationales are myriad. I won’t bore you with them. But, the true reason is pretty simple.

I have been afraid.

My daily work is a known quantity. I can reproduce it, at a high level, consistently and reliably. It is safe. Putting my more creative work out there is anything but safe. Some of it is experimental and much of has been part of my learning process. Frankly, some of it sucks.

I want to wait until my technique is flawless and my vision is perfectly executed. The problem is that day will never come. There will always be something to improve and a new approach to evaluate.

So, what to do?

Listen to Seth Godin. And, recall the first lesson Scott Bourne taught me:

Show the work show the work show the work. That’s the number one secret. Show your photos to anyone and everyone. Scott Bourne

Then, get to work.

Adobe’s Aperture to Lightroom migration tool has made getting the photos in one place pretty simple. Now, I have to scrub for dupes, cull the remainder and get to work on post-processing.

Until this is done, I am not going into the field to make new images.

What will I ship?

Starting no later than March 1st, I’ll begin a public, modified Project 365 which includes the best of my back catalog and eventually new images.

I am done with fear. It is time for me to ship or shut up.

Now, what’s hiding on your hard drive? :D

Photo Credit:Bright Bulb” by Steve Jurvetson

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