As a creative, everyone around you constantly warns against doing too much of one thing. For all their idealistic open-mindedness, any such industry is quick to put individuals in a box for mental cataloging, at any hint of a recurring common denominator. You’re not just a photographer – you’re a photographer who shoots boyish models in layered styling, in backlight, with wet hair tendrils, and edits with a blue filter (and that’s all we’ll hire you for… at least in the States). You’re not ‘in digital’ (oh hell no) – you’re a ‘blogger’ chasing celebrity, Instagram-ing sweets and handbags, and demanding this, that, the other. (I know.)
Now, I wouldn’t add “speaker” to my Twitter bio, and I doubt the rest of the industry would suddenly suggest I do so, but I do feel as though I’m on a knowledge-sharing rampage – the one thing I don’t think it’s possible to do too much of (at least for now). Having preached to you guys for so long, it has been amazing to be able to begin vocalising this over the past year or so, face-to-face, with audience that are there to learn, ask a lot of questions, and always challenge you to step back and crystallise what it is that you do, or what it is that you hope to do and how you might go about it.
It’s not one of those “I wish someone had been there back then to tell me what to do”. Not at all. I wouldn’t have learned nearly as much as I have in the past five years if someone had been guiding me, and I hadn’t needed to do some guessing, take certain leaps of faith, and made some very real mistakes. Rather, I personally think that too many professions today operate narrow, preset formulas. This is how things are done, they say. Don’t stray from the formula – you’ll lose your way, you’ll set yourself back, you’ll offend people. Listen here, they say. You study, you photocopy, you get coffee, you assist, you struggle to pay rent but don’t let anybody know that, but then you strike up a conversation at the water cooler perhaps, or someone gets fired, then you’re in and suddenly, you can buy a house, buy a car, buy stuff (just have all of the stuff), have babies, buy another car, then you retire, and all that’s called a ‘career’.
Call me cynical.
While I understand the functionality of a a production chain that simply it what it is, and to some extent (in some more specific fields) a vertically structured corporate workplace, there comes a breaking point every couple of decades when, in the
tumult of a changing marketplace and commercial landscape, parts of that structure, so submissively effective decades ago, no longer works – and people need to reluctantly wake the hell up and accept that.
I was never a roll-eyed Charli XCX at school (far from it – I remain the proudest nerd on the block), but last week at VAMFF Business Talks, in a few weeks at TEDx and The Hope Summit, and tomorrow afternoon at David Jones’ ‘The Fashion Project’ Masterclass (which some of you might have attended last year), my general push is for what older generations (bitterly) label as ‘pesky millennials’, a ‘difficult target market’, and ‘consumers we don’t understand’, to break some of this completely outdated, unwritten rules.
The David Jones Masterclass is fully registered, but they’ve given me two extra spots to invite some of you to come along and have a listen, if you’re in Sydney, and free tomorrow afternoon from 4PM. Have a read about the session and my fellow speakers here, let me know in the comments below this post how you think you’d benefit from the class.
See two of you tomorrow!