Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Where Are the Heros?

Times are difficult everywhere. The government announced that the economy fell another six points in the previous month. Businesses are shutting down. A friend of mine, also a commercial photographer, told me that he lost a very lucrative client who decided to hire someone else to maintain his website — and the client wants to pay only $10 per hour for it. Guess what? He found someone willing to do it. It’s like Elton said: And the times, they are a-changin’

So photography isn’t what it used to be. We all know that. We can either sit around and complain about it, or we can dig in and weather the storm and make it to calmer waters. But just how do we do that?

That is what I’ve been thinking about on and off all day. It has been a year of many changes for me both personally and professionally, and the year is far from over. Just where do we go for inspiration, for endurance, for the fortitude to make it through the crises life dishes out?

In my experience, we have become nation of whiners that has its collective hand out — and photography hasn’t fared much better. I will risk the ire of my colleagues to go so far as to say that we have become a profession of whiners as well. We complain that others undercut our bids. We complain that the mega-stock houses have sold out and jumped on the royalty-free bandwagon. We complain that clients want everything for nothing. All of this is true to a large extent, but guess what? Complaining won’t fix it.

Where are the heroes of the past? Where are the entrepreneurs with the mettle to do what it takes to work it out? Today, we seem to think the heroes are the people who offer us a bail-out at our children's and grandchildren’s expense. Have we forgotten about our parents and grandparents, the immigrants who came to this country with little more than what they wore on their backs? Have we forgotten about the war years when our country pulled together and each individual sacrificed and did what needed to be done? We pulled together for three weeks following 9/11, but we didn't have the fortitude to see things through and so we wanted to quit. Do we even have any national pride left?

I believe that some of us do. So here is my challenge to you: Over the coming days, I will write about the people who inspire me. Many of them are friends and family — ordinary, regular, run-of-the-mill folks who stepped up and did great things not on a national level, but on a personal level that helped and inspired those whom they touched and so are a very real part of our national history. I also want to hear from you. Tell us your stories. Tell us who inspires you. Is it a relative or friend? Is it a national figure? A captain of industry? A colleague? Perhaps someone you don’t even know or who is no longer with us. Tell us your stories. Inspire us.

Where are the heroes? Well, they are all around us. We need only to open our eyes and look.

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