This is the final followup from my previous posts, Are You a Linchpin, Assignment and an upcoming post Are You a Linchpin, Answer. I took the above photo of Seth Godin back in 2009, see Tribes, We Need You To Lead Us by Seth Godin // Review, and shortly after I took that photo shoot, I gave up my art for dead. I had spent the better part of 15-17 years chiseling away at my art of photography and had felt like I was rarely valued for that art (monetarily speaking). In fact, in over 15 years of actively shooting, I probably made less than $1,200 total ($1,000 of that coming within the last 6 months of that 15 years), on an investment of probably close to $30,000 or more in equipment. With a degree in Accounting, schooled in the ways of business, that didn’t compute. Expenses always have to be less than revenue, but I was looking at it totally wrong.
Rarely does a book motivate me to make an actual change. Many books motivate me, but not enough to do anything about it. Linchpin on the other hand was one of those that just happen to light a fire under my feet and get me to look at my art in another way. Mainly, that an art is done for the sake of the artist, and those who receive his gift. I knew this from the moment I picked up a camera, but over time and many other circumstances, I had forgotten that.
Profit, something which I was always taught was a simple mathematical formula; “revenue minus expenses equals profit”, was totally rearranged in Linchpin. Godin explains profit, from the business side, as the value you, the artist, add or contribute minus the amount you are paid. Same thing really as the MBA version, but when you look at the work, as “value” it adds something more than just money, it changes everything.
A fast food worker at McDonald’s can add a wide range of value to the company, yet they are pretty much all paid the same thing, minimum wage, so there is no reason to create or add value above a certain level, but that doesn’t mean some don’t create and add value where it is not needed or appreciated. Brother Lawrence was one such person. A 17th century monk, and someone who had enormous value to add to all of society in his book of letters, spent much of his life doing dishes, as a cook. His conversations with God and letters to his friends make an incredible book, and it is free, you can read it right now, doesn’t cost you a dime.
My art of photography had created value for years. I gave it away to the wrong people, businesses and companies, and tried to charge those in my close circle. So thanks Seth, I am going to get back to the business of creating my own unique art. I don’t know how I am going to accomplish that, I have no equipment, no resources to buy any equipment, and at the moment, no clients to shoot for, but those are just details. I have going on 2 decades of knowledge in my own art, the equipment is just a tool.