“If you build it, they will come.” -Ray Kinsella in Field of Dreams
It may be an Eighties classic, but Field of Dreams has an important message for any dreamer.
I received a phone call yesterday from a major Utah Television Station requesting me to make an appearance on their morning show to talk about photography. Though flattered, I was really interested in how in the world they came to find me. The producer mentioned that one of their staff had found my blog, tagged it, and passed it along.
“But really,” she said, “it was a matter of your website. It’s obviously professional, and your content was different than we usually see, and your videos were the final push. You’re a performer. You had the skill set we were looking for.”
I’ve thought about that over and over the last 24 hrs.
How do people know that you have the skill set unless you have built something to show it?
“If you build it, they will come.” is the beckoning voice that Ray Kinsella hears in Field of Dreams. But just like the movie, it takes a lot of faith, trust, guts, risk, and discipline to go and make something when no one else can see or understand what you’re trying to build or why you’re doing it.
I’m far from finished in my proverbial building project. But life experience has shown me again and again that this is a true principle.
Here’s how it has worked so far for me:
As I’ve already expressed in the past, rarely–if ever–do opportunities just fall out of the sky. There is no such thing as overnight success. Even those seeming stories have an underlying quiet history of some type of preparation. I enjoyed reading Jasmine Star’s Exposed Magazine that details her own journey, and came away most impressed by just how hard she has worked to get to where she is. She wasn’t handed the silver platter. She picked herself and created her own opportunities. It’s only after you have built something that people recognize you have the skill set they are looking for.
2. You must know what you are building.
The producer asked me if I had any ideas of a message that I could share for their segment. Boy did I ever! I immediately offered my first suggestion which was met with eager approval.
Ray was building a baseball field. He plowed under the crop of corn and built the diamond and grand stands. It wasn’t a vague or limited vision. He knew what he was building.
Do you know what you are building?
Saying that you’re “building a photography business” is unfortunately too vague. And besides there are already a million and one photography businesses. How will someone recognize your specific skill set?
How do you define what you are building? What is your message? What makes you unique? What is your specific skill set?
The number one thing that has helped me to know what my message is and what I am building is my daily morning pages of journaling. Dane Sanders calls it vision work. Sarah Ban Breathnach calls it her daily dialogue. Whatever name, style, or approach you take, spending some consistent time with yourself in uncovering your own blueprint for building is ever so important.
The awesome part, is that everyone has a blueprint specific to them and people that they are specifically building for. The more clarity that blueprint has the sooner you can get to work and build with purpose for the right people.
3. Get to work. Build. Be Patient.
This is the hardest part of all. Remember, Ray was told “if you build it they will come.” He wasn’t told that the line of cars would start trickling in as soon as he plowed under the corn field, or leveled out a diamond. They came AFTER the project was complete. Think of the faith and sacrifice!
Its no different from anyone else with a dream.
You’re not seen on stage for the concert circuit just because you love to sing. It comes only AFTER you have built your own stage.
You don’t become a successful pro photographer because you love taking pictures and some people pay you to do it sometimes. You must define your own vision, build a portfolio and message that reflects that vision and get the rest of the proper aspects of business in working order. Then, and only then, do you find yourself doing the work that makes you most happy with the exact type of people that make you most happy.
A few years ago I discovered that I was completely on the wrong path as a photographer.
Perhaps I should say, I “evolved” into someone with an opinion and different tastes than what I was currently doing. I realized that my heart was more drawn to lifestyle photography than fashion, or classic portraiture, though that wasn’t the type of work I was doing. I took an entire year to integrate personal projects into my work that were specifically designed to create a lifestyle portfolio of images that matched what type of work I hoped to be doing. You might say I suddenly had a blueprint of my own vision but had to build it first before other people could recognize my skillset.
4. Reap the rewards.
If you make it through step three, you witness miracles. Doors open. Opportunities come. People recongize your skill set. Networking becomes deeply enriching. But it doesn’t stop here. You realize that dream building is a continuous cycle.
You always have to do the hard work, but once you find yourself creating and building with a passionate purpose and direction the hard part also becomes the fun part.
What are you building? Tell me in the comments below!
(images in this post courtesy of google images).
Brooke Snow is a Lifestyle photographer in Cache Valley, Utah. Dream building is her favorite hobby. Dreams that she has already built for herself include writing an opera, writing a musical, learning to ride a road bike with clip-less pedals, hiking Angels Landing in Zion National Park, and sewing on her first button. Some dreams are big. Some dreams are small. All dreams bring opportunity to our life if we’re willing to build them.
Brooke teaches inspiring online photography classes that bring you confidence in your skills and creativity.
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