If you’ve been following my blog posts, you’d know that RapidMiner isn’t the first Startup I’ve worked for. My first one was straight out of school for an engineering firm in New Mexico. It was the best of times and the worst of times. I am who I am today from the lessons I learned there.
What many people don’t know about me is that I like to take photos in cities. I fancy myself a hobby street photographer and I like to roam around and capture small slices of life in the streets. It’s a very personal and lonely endeavor but I’m fascinated by the undercurrent of people interacting with places, people, and things.
It’s also very therapeutic! It gives me time to think when I roam around AND it sharpens my senses to opportunities. You have to be quick to get that shot!
I recently stumbled across some street photography tips by a prolific street photography blogger, Eric Kim. I watched this “kid” go from shooting bad street photos to shooting really good ones. He experimented, he networked, he tried new things, and dropped things that didn’t work. Now he’s traveling the world and hosting street photography workshops. He’s like this own “startup” and despite what all the haters say, I like the guy!
I gleaned a few of his tips. Some of them contradict each other, but I can overlook that. Why? Because life is one big contradiction. What ultimately matters is learning to see an opportunity, evaluate it, and then take it if it makes sense.
Fulfill Your Personal Maximum
I am certainly not a “master” myself; just a humble student dedicated to a life-long pursuit of learning.
The Startup is you and your people. Without all your brains, you’d be dead in the water. Life-long learning is important to keep all those brains sharp and creative. Always remember, your employees want to contribute to something larger than themselves and if they feel like their work becomes too rote, then you’ll lose them. Invest in lifelong learning.
Shoot 25% more than you think you should
If you see an amazing character once in your life, realize that you will never see them ever again. So live life without regrets and make the photograph.
This tip reminds me of not missing a good opportunity AND under promising but over-delivering. In the Startup world, you have gone above and beyond for your potential and existing clients. You are the reason they are taking a chance on your startup, so don’t blow it.
Kill Your Master
Remember that after learning from the masters, you need to know when to ignore them or when to go against their teachings.
As you journey through Startup land, will meet and have great mentors and influencers. I still talk to my old mentors, which I affectionately call “Tor”mentors. They will have great wisdom share but what you need to do is learn as much as you can and then chart your own destiny. You’re the captain of this Startup, you take their teachings and set out on your own into uncharted waters.
Kill Your Ego
By detaching your ego from your photos, you can judge them more honestly and objectively.
Don’t get hung up on something and lose your objectivity. I see this happen a lot when teams are formed to make new products. They lose themselves in the product that they forget who it’s really for, the customer. If you can’t honestly and objectively evaluate how good or bad your product is, well then you got a problem. Be prepared to kill your creations.
Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish
Many photographers become jaded after years of shooting. They lose a sense of their hunger and passion. This is what leads to artistic death and stagnation.
This is a tough one. At times you can get tired and things just seem to be going all wrong in your Startup. You have to be vigilant against losing your hunger and passion because it’s really tied together by a thin thread. If you feel jaded or burnt out, take some time off and detach for a bit. Then come back and be a force to be reckoned with.
By getting to know your subject, you connect with them on a deeper and emotional level, which might help you uncover some hidden truths about them, which might manifest in the photos that you take.
This is about your customer or clients. You have to get to know them to understand why they’re involved with you. Don’t be that selfish lover that only thinks about your orgasm, think about theirs. Once you build a strong relationship, everyone feels “in it together,” and that goes a long way to building your brand.
I want to leave you with the last lesson it would be this: unlearn.
If something doesn’t work, toss it. Start again. Don’t be tied to dogma.