What’s your Excuse?

I kind of don’t want to call anybody a crybaby. I mean, I do now and then, but I really don’t want to. It’s just that I came up at a time when photographers were rewarded for making pictures, not excuses.

Call me old fashioned, better yet, just call me old. Old people like me have a way of appreciating a job well done. A job done with minimal complaints, and by complaints I mean satirical comments on one’s current state of being.

For example, the well loved photographer who would never leave a Washington photo opportunity before loudly stating;

“That was a real piece of dog shit.”

He was old. So old that he once was forced to fly from Miami back to DC in the back of Nixon’s Air Force One wearing nothing but a bathing suit. Once you’ve done that, you’re not afraid to tell the next five or six presidents exactly what you think of their Oval Office event.

Us old people are suckers for those kind of stories. We’re cute that way.

Morocco, still easy. Copyright 2019 Kenneth Jarecke / Contact Press Images

Calling someone old is the new way to dismiss those who do something better than you.

People who you might be able to learn something from if you only took a second to get out of your own way. Instead, ignorance is now a virtue. A virtue that is embraced by those who are quick to brag about not being influenced by those who’ve come before them, as if knowledge or experience was a bad thing.

Like Miles Davis didn’t learn anything from Charlie Parker.

There seems to be no downside to the practice and when it comes to photographers, it apparently pays quite well. I mean, how else can one afford to live in London, New York, or both, then travel the world in order to pad the portfolio, feed the social media feed and tune up one’s vision?

I know a guy in the old neighborhood that will tune you up just for spouting that kind of nonsense. No visa required.

Morocco, the pictures just keep coming. Copyright 2019 Kenneth Jarecke / Contact Press Images

Just to be clear. When you fail to make a picture, it’s not the subjects fault. It’s not the fault of the country, the weather, your equipment, lack of access, jet-lag, or anything else that isn’t you.

If, for some extraordinary reason your dog actually does eat your memory card… it’s still your fault.

I don’t get it, this curious mix of arrogance, entitlement, and ignorance that somehow morphs its way into a source of pride. I’m just guessing here, but I think it’s a new thing, or at least something we haven’t seen since the Fall of Rome.

Honest, everything would have been fine if not for those darn Visigoths.

It’s a painful thing to witness, like watching a senator of nearly 30 years being chastised by a group of middle schoolers reciting bumperstickers.

Learn from your mistakes, don’t embrace them.

Seek out people who have successfully done what you’re trying to do, then listen to them.

Morocco… Copyright 2019 Kenneth Jarecke / Contact Press Images

Don’t try to erase history in order to paint yourself as an innovator. It’s disrespectful. Worse, it belittles the hard work and sacrifices that others have made before you. People that you should be celebrating and emulating, not trying to sweep under the rug.

Maybe it’s because you’re afraid of them. Afraid that you won’t be able to match their accomplishments. Take solace in the fact that your fears are well founded. It’s highly unlikely that you will match their accomplishments.

Coming up, they had advantages that have mostly disappeared.

They had mentors who they respected. Mentors who taught them how to do things the proper way, and occasionally busted their chops. They had editors who supported them, pushed them, busted their chops some more, and then gave them opportunities they didn’t deserve in the hope they’d rise to the challenge.

Yes, there is a proper way to do things, which means there’s also a wrong way. I know this sounds hurtful, but for once in your life this isn’t about your feelings. It’s about learning, and if you don’t realize you need to learn, then you won’t.

Blinders are for horses, silly rabbit. Copyright 2019 Kenneth Jarecke / Contact Press Images

A trust fund can only go so far. It’s no substitute for hard work, well earned experience or the institutional knowledge still haunting the corridors of some once great publications.

A state of the art camera system won’t replace a lack of vision. A spell checker won’t turn you into a great writer.

When it comes to becoming great at something, there’s no substitute for time, experience and hard work, but you can lessen the time by tapping into someone else’s experience. Thankfully, there’s no getting around the hard work.

Seriously, I love me some hard work.

Failure isn’t something to fear, it’s something that should anger you. To be clear, angry at yourself, not someone else. Blame gives one an out. Blame means you didn’t do anything wrong. Naturally, if you didn’t do anything wrong, there’s no reason to improve. And, if you’ve got no reason to improve, you’ve got no need for a mentor. No need for the past. No need for experience.

You can see how this quickly corkscrews into mediocrity.

Mediocre, now that’s something to be fearful of. I can’t imagine being able to accept that. How sad is that? I got the feeling we weren’t put on this earth to be mediocre. I think we’re meant to spend our time striving for greatness.

I suppose that just another old fashioned notion, like appreciating a job well done.

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