Starting your photography journey with the end (the real end) in mind

by Outlaw Photographer James Michael Taylor on February 11, 2018

in This is Life

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“NONE said they wished they’d watched more TV. NONE said they should’ve spent more time on Face Book. NONE said they enjoyed fighting with others. NONE enjoyed hospital.” – Alastair McAlpine, pediatrician to terminally-ill children

This thread of tweets is one of the most powerful things I’ve read in months:

In it, Alastair shares what his patients, terminally-ill children, told him they wish they had more time to enjoy with their lives.




Ice cream.

I’m a single father of three kids ages 7 to 13, so this just put my heart in a vice.

I immediately went to my journal to ask myself hard questions:

– Am I investing my life into the people and projects that truly make a difference? Would I die tomorrow – or in 10 years – with regrets?

– What would my days look like if I just hit the big Reset button and lived life by the wisdom of these young people?

– What am I grateful for right now? (and every day) How do I get more of that into my life?

If you are an artist – if you feel a gut-level need to create and impact and serve with your photography – you need to give that reality the space it deserves in your life. Becoming or being a professional photographer isn’t just a hobby or project or scheme to make money for you.

You’re an artist.

Making photos, getting better, affecting people with your work – is as much a part of your base needs as eating, sleeping, and breathing.

One day you’ll be on your own deathbed, no time left to procrastinate or put off until ‘someday’ or ‘the right time.’

Are you living your life – and honoring your artistic creativity – today, and every day, in a way that you’ll look back without regret?

Choose. Commit. And act.

What’s the biggest challenge holding you back today? E-mail me and let me know.

– James Michael


1. Journal (write out your thoughts, digitally or on paper) on this question: “Am I living every day in a way that I could die tomorrow, or in 10 years, with no regrets?”

2. Open your calendar. Block an hour to work on your photography this week. The sooner the better. When you commit to and then honor that time, look at your calendar again; find another hour, and block it off. Repeat until photography is once again a consistent part of your life.

3. Meditate on “memento mori” – remember death. “Let us prepare our minds as if we’d come to the very end of life. Let us postpone nothing. Let us balance life’s books each day. … The one who puts the finishing touches on their life each day is never short of time.” – Seneca. Remembering that you could die at any time instills a healthy and powerful mindset that time is precious, and fleeting. Do what’s most important today – and every day.

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