Love what you do

Whoever said love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life was a damn liar.

Trust me, no matter how much you love what you do, there is always a certain amount of work involved. Regardless of how much fun you have creating the latest project, there’s always a fair amount of paperwork involved in the process that sucks the life right out of that joy-filled hot air balloon.

But you know what? It never hurts to die trying to find a job that you love.

I spent many years in the newspaper business trying to manage the daily goings-on of staff photographers at publications both large and small across the country. I don’t know how many times I had to tell my staffers that you have to do “their” work so you can do “your” work.

In other words, every photographer on the staff had something or another that was their passion to photograph. For some it was sports. Others like to shoot food or fashion. And still others like the freedom to roam about and make great photos from the randomness of daily life.

To most people it’s the coolest job in the world, and it really is. You meet interesting people. You get to go behind the scenes at important events and into the locker rooms of professional sports teams.

But there’s always the work you “have” to do in order to get the newspaper out. For some papers it’s house of the week or pet of the week. At others, it’s society pictures or award presentations. The rote nature of these shots leaves little enjoyment on the bone for the photographer to swallow.

But you know what, love or no love, you have to get it done in a professional manner.

One of my favorite old yarns that I delivered to many a photographer mid whine was that the Sistine Chapel – although beautiful – was a commission job. The pope was paying for the job, so ultimately he called the shots. The artist had to do “their” work, so he could do “his” work.

A few years ago I worked with a photographer who had moved into management but her career had stalled out. She chose to go back out on the street, and you know what, she was loving it. There was no sign of work stress in her eyes when she came back soaking wet after spending the day photographing water skiing.

“You know what?” she said. “You’re paying me to have fun.”

Not so long ago, I took a job as a communicator for a university that I wasn’t sure if I was suited for. But before long, I was able to use not only my writing tools but also some of my photography and layout skills as well.

I had only been on the job about a month when I turned to the dean and told her, “You do know you’re paying me to spend the afternoon photographing people making sausage?”

You know what else? I was loving it. Sure there are still days when work can be a four-letter word, but in time those become fewer and fewer. So love what you do, no matter how large or small the job might be, and good things will happen.

Photo credit: Greg Peters