“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:
1. You must pick yourself.
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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brooke. i LOVE this post so much. i have been thinking a lot about this too and i totally agree that it all comes down to what you decide to do FOR YOURSELF, whether or not anyone else cares. if you’re true to that, the right people find you for further work of the same kind. at least that’s what i assume… it hasn’t quite happened for me yet, but this post helps me along my own little path!
Hang in there Kristin 🙂 If anyone has something unique and wonderful to offer with a passionate heart, its you 🙂 It takes a long time sometimes to gain some momentum and there really is a time and season for it all too. I know you’re building something great 🙂
I love to hear about your awesome opportunities. It is so cool to see how hard you’ve worked to achieve your goals!
Oh Trisha, I miss you too 🙂 As soon as some things settle around here, we must get together 🙂
Love this! That is so awesome about the news station and what they said about why they chose you. I’m going to ponder this post over the next several morning pages. Thank you for the food for thought. You’re the best!
I love that you are doing morning pages, Denise 🙂 Its changed my life. I can’t wait to see what amazing discoveries you have!
Awesome post. My favorite part about your posts is that they’re geared toward helping others. These are literally all things that I’m working on. And congrats on the radio show invite!
Thanks Vince! Thats my goal 😉
Brooke, that is so AWESOME! I can’t wait to hear more! As always, great post and words of wisdom!
How do you always write about just what I need to hear just when I need to hear it? I’ve been feeling like this lately but have been letting myself get caught in the trap of what everyone says I should be doing. But how do I deal with the impatience of the building process? It seems to be going so, so slowly.
Jen, its so hard to drown out the voices of who says what and why it should be a certain way 🙂 I listened to an inspiring podcast tonight where the creative artist admitted that despite all the research she does, she has found the most success on just following her own instinct rather than the formulas that everyone else prescribes. I loved that thought, that we each can be led and follow our own path and gut feeling for what is best for our own business and circumstances.
As for the impatience of the slow building process??? Great question 🙂 I should do another post on that topic alone 🙂 It does go slow. But there are some things that make it more exciting along the way. Like small little building projects (like personal projects). I’m going to ponder this one. I think for me, it goes so much slower when I don’t have a truly clear path of where I’m going. Wandering makes it feel slow. Knowing exactly where I’m going and how to get there makes the progress easier to measure.
Your words have really hit home today. I’ve found myself getting extremely discouraged and that I don’t appreciate where I currently am with what I’m building. Thank you for posting this, Brooke and reminding me that I’m not the only person to ever have gone through this!
Oh Vanessa! I know the feelings you’re having! Sometimes it seems like it takes so long! The journey is not always a steady path uphill, but there are plateaus, and dips and valleys. The most important part is knowing where we’re going 🙂 Thank you for your comment, my friend!
I am so so SO delighted for you, well deserved recognition indeed! I KNEW I backed a winner when I signed up for your basics class (I know its only the first week but I’m LOVING it already, like a kid in a candy store). Well done Brooke and thank you for this powerful and encouraging post too. Mwah!
Oh goodness!! Thank you Moira! You made my day! So happy that you are enjoying the class! This is an exciting journey!
I’m on day three of morning pages and it stuns me how cleansing it is. I’m sure it will evolve into something different in the future, but for right now, its a shower for my soul. One of my favorite things is to be fresh and clean. Inside and out. 🙂
Oh Margie! You made my heart just leap with joy! I rejoice every time I hear from someone who is trying out morning pages. It can seriously change your life and only for the better. Its amazing to tap into that inner voice and start to feel the gentle guidance of your own personal path! Stick with it!!! I promise if you do that remarkable things will happen!
This is so exiting to hear! Congratulations! And this post is excellent also. I’ve been slacking on my morning pages. Time to pick up again!
Struggling with this right now! I am working on opening a photography business, but I am struggling to define my style, to determine who I am, and not compare my images to the others in my area. I really feel a calling to lifestyle…but am feeling scared to go in that direction and break free from the crowd of local portrait photogs…
Shannon! Defining your style is the hardest yet most important part of progress. Its brings liberation because you’re doing what you feel called to do and what you love to do (which brings energy and excitement which brings the ability to work hard and move forward.) It is scary. It does feel like a risk. And there will most certainly be people who don’t like your style. But as soon as you know what you were meant to do, you are more able to work with the people you were meant to work with who choose you based on who you are rather than the commodity of photography. It’s worth the leap 🙂 You can do it!
I am sooo hoping the show is Studio 5. It is my favorite show to inspire me and it really does make me happy. They have had other photographers on their show and you will only add to what they have said by leaps and bounds.Can’t wait to tell everyone she’s the one i took my first camera class with. And your right, how was it that i met you because of your rooster print at a farmers market. The universe does work beautifully!
Miranda! It is Studio 5! I’m so glad that you love that show! And I love the farmers market all the more for helping us meet up!
Congrats and thanks for another great blog entry!
How is it possible that I talked to you less than 24 hours ago, and didn’t even hear about this?! Apparently an hour and half just isn’t enough time to catch up every month 🙂
Congratulations – how exciting! Can’t wait to hear more about it! (p.s. as always, you inspired me, and I got up this morning and exercised. Woot! Who knows, maybe I’ll start doing morning pages before too long)
Congrats on exercising! Hooray for good health!!!
Um you totally need to do morning pages 🙂 Seriously has changed my life. Its totally an amazing tool for receiving personal revelation. AMAZING.
You’re fabulous! Thanks for chatting yesterday!
Great post. I just ran across your blog recently and I love your style and the advice you give. It’s hard to find fresh talk on photography. People seem to say the same things. I also love how you reply to most of the comments. I think your energy and attitude that you approach this with is a tribute to your success!
Why Charles! Thank you! I’m so glad you commented! And delighted that you find the content on the blog refreshing! I hope you’ll keep coming back for more!
AWesome. Totally deserved and awesome! 🙂 You would be GREAT on tv!
Brooke! Just have to tell you how inspiring your work and your blog posts are! And I agree, your videos are amazing, it shows that you have personality and not shy to share your ideas! I can actually not tell you how I stumbled on your blog, I think it might have been due to Pinterest. 🙂 I am from a tiny tiny town in South Africa, started a year ago with building my own photography business. My husband has been saying from the very beginning: “build it and they will come” So it has been my philosophy ever since.
I’ve also made it my goal this year to start incorporating personal projects, which has been so rewarding and helpful and probably the best way to stay creative for me!
Thanks again! Love your work, love your enthusiasm and love your kindred spirit!
Oh Judith! You are a kindred spirit! Thank you for your comment all the way from Africa! Your husband is right! “build it and they will come!” How lucky you are to have an inspiring and supportive companion! Best wishes in the building!
Brooke, your website and things you share with others on your blog are one of the best things that I have encountered on the Internet!:) I am a photographer myself, meaningful life has always been my concern, I am older than you but I have truly learnt a lot from you:) for which I am deeply grateful. I’ll gladly share the link to your website and to your articles with my friends and on Facebook as well.
Thank you for meeting you:)
Sending you warm thoughts from Poland:)
Oh Danka! What a delight to receive your comment all the way from Poland!!! I can tell we would be great friends! I love meaningful life too! Please stop by again!
🙂 You may be sure Brooke I will stop by on a regular basis. I love your articles and useful tips you give us and above all joyful energy you and your entire website emanate:)
I have unfortunately had some problems with subscribing to your latest posts list via email. I haven’t received the confirmation email! Would beg rateful for help.
Enjoy beautiful Sunday:)