Don't Give Up

 ©Michel Porro

©Michel Porro

Nobody can teach me to photograph and nobody can teach you to photograph. The best advice that I can give, especially if you’re starting out, or if you’re intermediate; don’t give up. And certainly don’t listen to people who say you are no good at photography. Because the person who is saying that, has no idea what’s inside you.

Sunrise or Sunset?

 ©Michel Porro

©Michel Porro

What do you prefer? Sunrise or sunset? Begin or end? Or the journey in between?

Each day is our own 'Hero's journey'. Writer Joseph Campbell came up with this description of our journey from regular life to transformation (The Hero with a thousand faces).

Campbell distinguishes 11 phases of the Hero's journey.

1. De Ordinary World. Under the surface some stuff is happening already.

2. The Calling. A special event takes place to evoke action in the Hero.

3. Denial of the Calling. The Hero resists and is not immediately moved into activity.

4. The Mentor appears. From outside or from inside, a dream for instance. The Hero steps into the unknown.

5. Across the border. The Hero says farewell to the known and steps into the unknown.

6. Difficulties and Challenges, Friends and Enemies.  The world challenges the Hero.

7. The Biggest Problem. The Hero faces his greatest foe or challenge.

8. The Payoff. The Hero wins, but wait..

9. Escape. Enemies don't let the Hero win easily.

10. Resurrection. The Hero brings a final offer and the problem is finally solved.

11. Gift for the people. The Hero returns home but not empty handed. He shares his transformational wisdom or elixer and he brings peace to the people.

Everybody is his or her own Hero in life. Each day brings an opportunity to overcome challenges. Step by step, day by day.

According to writer Steven Pressfield the moment just before the Calling is most important. The Hero's journey in each story is defined by what happens until the moment of the Calling. Until the moment the Hero starts taking action. That's when the spirit exits the bottle.

After the Hero's journey follows The Artist's Journey. Everyone who creates, makes, produces, markets or sells is an Artist. Not only painters and ballet dancers are artists. We all face what Pressfield calls 'Resistance'. And in Pressfield's The War of Art he shines a light on what is is exactly and how to deal with resistance.

What happens in your life between sunrise and sunset? What's your journey and how do you overcome the resistance to create? That's what makes great artists great.

It pays off to show up every day

 ©Michel Porro

©Michel Porro

Best thing you can do for your career, or whatever you wish to accomplish is simple: show up every day. We have all read that brilliant novel, watched a compelling movie or an athlete winning a game.  Or been to a rock concert or been mesmerised by a cello concerto. Or bought a crazy good product like an iphone or a hybrid car. Nothing of this was an overnight success. And never will be.

The only recepe for success is consistency in doing the right thing and going on where others quit. And that is possible only when we sit down and do our thing, day by day, every day. Not 'waiting for inspiration'. Just getting to work. Your best work flows from consistent daily work.

You can only continue do this if it is the right thing. That you really want. To create something. To be the best in the world at something. To change something. There are no other options really to escape mediocrity.

Champions, legens and icons show up every day. Also, especially, when they don't want to. They have only one thing in mind. Doing what people do where they want to go.

 Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple computer, had been reading electronics magazines for many many years, before embarking on his revolutionary journey with Steve Jobs.

Showing up every day means that you are mentally and physically prepared to do the work. Able to ignore or overcome the little voice in your head. It pays off to show up, every day.


Discipline even more important than beginning

 Foto: © Michel Porro

Foto: © Michel Porro

Failure is hardly ever caused by lack of good intentions, creativity, talent or ideas, strategy or plan. And a good execution is no guarantee for succes, but poor execution leads certainly to failure.

Good execution and poor results? You need to reconsider your strategy. A strategy is a statement declaring what kind of company you are, in which sector and with what activities you operate. From the strategy follow the tactics to transform your plans into results.

Only good strategy and tactics lead to positive results. Right? No. There is a massively important factor. You need discipline. Day by day, drip by drip. That is the execution. Continuing where others stop. Long term vision and patience are required.  Especially when you get stuck and immediate results are not yet visible.

Most non successful entrepreneurs try out new things when current activities are getting tough. Don't finish half projects. How to deal with this?

 What helps are deadlines.  Be accountable to yourself when the time or date is reached. Look at what worked and what not. And why not. Only then you will reach your goal.

This morning I walked past my disorganised wardrobe. It has been a thorn in my eye for a while now. I wanted to give some shirts to charity and clean up the mess. I started and stopped almost immediately. 'I'll do it tomorrow'. I returned to the kitchen. Halfway I said: 'No! I'll do it now'. In less than 10 minutes the job was done.

In companies and businesses the same thing happens all the time. Not finishing what we start disturbs the flow of things. Finishing what we start, if it's the right thing, is the only basis for succes.

Execution is finishing what we start with focus. Until its done. Steven Pressfield calls this the battle against a formidable enemy: resistance. His book, the War of Art, is the best ever written on this topic.

Execution commands discipline. Working towards a goal within a reasonable deadline. Every day a step closer. The biggest accomplishments are done this way. No great novel was written in 1 week or month. Some of them took years. And not all become a success. But the next one maybe. Or the next one. Until it's done.

Just begin

 Actress Will van Kralingen ©Michel Porro

Actress Will van Kralingen ©Michel Porro

It sounds crazy and duh, but by just beginning something you believe in, the rest follows. Imagine a photographer with a very varied portfolio and skills. He is quite good at a lot of things but not really excelling at any one specialty.

He looks at other photographers who made their mark in the business. Succesful and well known. He photographed famous people, writers, actors, singers etc. How on earth can I get to do that kind of work he asks. It was so far of his scope of what he thought possible for him self, he never even imagined him pursuing it.

One day his partner told him; 'Hey, your work is great and you can do that too. You can make them happy with your work and personality. And once you have done one or two, you'll see you may gain trust and others will follow. But more importantly, you'll start believing more in yourself. All those famous people are just people like you and me".

So he started calling around. It wasn't a walk in the park and he almost gave up. Then he received an invite from a kind picture editor at a magazine. The content was aimed at women over 40. Things were looking up and off he went to the headquarters where he met the kind and soft spoken editor. She looked at his book. He didn't think much of it but she looked him in the eye. She said: 'I see that you really want this.' And she gave him a chance to portray his first 'famous' actress. He remembers the shoot like it was yesterday. One of the kindest women he's ever met. The images were well received and soon after he was sent on many assignments for this magazine. Other clients followed and it was the start of his portrait photography specialisation.

What he learnt in the process is that one should never assume anything, ever. "That's not for me". Or, I won't be good enough". That's for others to decide but you have to try first. You can win or learn, you never loose.

That photographer is thankful though that the kind editor gave him a break. That was twelve years ago. The actress passed away in 2012 and he will always cherish that unforgettable experience. You may have guessed the photographer is me.

Business is always long term

 Olive tree, Brenzone Lake Garda

Olive tree, Brenzone Lake Garda

Eating an olive or using olive oil usually does not evoke awareness about what it takes to create this produce. Cultivating olives is hard. It requires patience and knowledge. It takes years before a tree produces an edible olive. And then it's not so sure if it produces every year. Olive trees are sensitive. Diseases and lack of or too  much rain cause disruption. The olive tree cultivator know this. He's in the game for the long run.

A tree can grow 2000 years old. The older the more productive. Quality increases over the years. The olive farmer is patient. He knows the fruits of his labour lie in the future.

Why is this interesting? The average human does not have the mindset of the olive expert. He wants things now. This is how he is programmed genetically and evolutionary. In the old days, 30.000 years ago, the human was not planning ahead other than making sure there was enough food in the cave and that he and his family made it to the next day.

He was not planning, saving, investing in health and finances. Next month or next year did not exist. Survival and consuming all.

The thing is, not much has changed. It has gotten worse due to the immense increase of impulses. We are constantly wanting and buying stuff that we don't need to impress people we don't even like. 

Walking past this beautiful olive tree I thought: "Next time I want to buy something on impulse I'll think of this tree. It will be there in 500 years. And its fruits will be more plentiful and better quality. So it pays to wait and not spend. It is worth it to invest instead of buying unnecessary wasteful stuff. And cooking will never be the same. I see that patient and smart man, who know why he is waiting.

Flying low is no longer secure

 ©Michel Porro

©Michel Porro

It's no longer good to play safe and follow old rules. Stay in the comfort zone. Find a job, and follow the rules. Keeping your head low and survive the day, the week, the year, the career.

According to Seth Godin the new truth is to be better sorry than safe. Fly higher than before. True game changers focus on trust, being remarkable and leadership so that your story travels. The new economy evolves around art, not being art in the old sense of the word. It's about emotional labour, propelled by risk, love and joy.

And art is everything generated by someone with her heart. Connection between people is always the result of emotional labour between two humans. Your work is art.

Stick out your neck, fly high, not seeking proof by counting likes or followers, or gain approval by boss or client, then you connect. Who will miss you when you're gone?

The trick is, don't fly too high, or the sun smelts your wings. Or too low because you won't have lift. Fly higher than before, miracles happen.

Idea ownership

 Artist Emilie Cummings’ meerkats  in Wassenaar. ©Michel Porro

Artist Emilie Cummings’ meerkats in Wassenaar. ©Michel Porro

In group efforts everyone has his own opinion. Noses are pointing in all directions. We all want ‘our’ idea to be in the spotlight. What helps is asking for the opinion of those opposing ours. “How would you handle this”? The idea transfers ownership and chances for a mutually beneficial outcome increases. Compromises are always better than standoffs.

In our work as photographer, especially in the acquisition stage, we often get challenged to defend our case. Our price, our creativity, our livelihood. But what we often forget is the point of view of our customer. A 6 on the table is a 6 to us but a 9 to the customer. While it is the same thing. We need to see our client’s point of view. And make him part of the process by asking (lots of) questions. Make it her idea.

Transferring ownership of the idea and letting go of ego is a recipe for succes.

Branding is niet je logo

 © Michel Porro

© Michel Porro

Zoals de zon altijd hetzelfde licht lijkt te geven. Behalve als onze aandacht echt naar je toe wordt getrokken.

Het feit dat je iets hebt gemaakt betekent nog niet dat we het leuk vinden. We zien je wel, maar ook weer niet omdat je op al het andere lijkt wat er al te koop is. Zoals de zon altijd hetzelfde licht lijkt te geven. Behalve als onze aandacht echt naar je toe wordt getrokken. Alles wat je doet en zegt, on- en offline, moet versterken waar jij voor staat en wat je wil vertellen. Zodat ze snappen waarom je maakt wat je maakt en waarom je bestaat. Dit is branding en branding is niet je logo.

Impact begint met je idee

 © Jon Morris /

© Jon Morris /

Waarom maak ik dit product?

Jonathan Morris van zs9c is een creatieve rock star. Het lijkt of de ideeen en de daaruit vloeiende resultaten zonder moeite uit zijn geest en pen vloeien. Uiteraard, zijn prestaties zijn geen overnight succes. Het is het resultaat van jarenlang spelen met en uitwerken van heel veel ideeen en initiatieven. Hij is een meester in het zien en aanvoelen van de hoop en dromen, de angsten en de ambities van zijn klanten. Jon vraagt steeds: Waarom maak ik dit product? Voor wie is het en hoe is het beter of anders? En wie is mijn competitie en hoe weet ik of ik succesvol ben? 

Impact ontstaat als het probleem wordt opgelost.

Elk product of dienst komt voort uit een probleem. Impact ontstaat als het probleem wordt opgelost. Staan we in de schoenen van degene die we proberen te helpen? Jon in elk geval wel.