What a Fire Taught Erik Almås About Success and the Creative Life

Posted by on Friday November 17, 2017 | Business

Erik Almås nearly lost his life’s work and his house in the fires that swept through northern California in October. On November 12, he wrote in a blog post that the experience changed his perspective on what’s important personally and professionally. And he offered inspiring advice to struggling photographers about how to keep things in perspective and persevere.

The following is an excerpt from that post. Almås writes:

“I know there are a lot of talented photographers who have given up on photography. Making a living taking pictures is as competitive as it gets, and a long endeavor if you choose to take it on.

What makes this process even harder is the social demands for immediate success.

Experiencing the certainty of losing my home…created a shift in my perspective on success and what having “made it” is.

In no particular order, and without being right for everyone, here’s a…list of what now resonates with me and the idea of “making it“

If you keep your focus on creating, you have made it. If doing what you do expands you and fills you up, you have made it. If you crave creating every day, you have made it. If you are excited about what you just created and even more excited to improve upon it, you have made it. If you are proud to show your work, you have made it. If you found an expression that consistently expresses who you are, you have made it. If you have done the above so consistently your expression starts to recognize itself, you have made it. If you question why and how and who and explore this through your work, you have made it.

So my shift and lesson is this: You can celebrate your successes… but don’t attached them to an event, a monetary item or any other social measure of success [because] it will leave you feeling like you are coming up short every time. Which in turn will make you want to give up…

The complete post, including Almås’s dramatic account of saving his work, and the impact the fires had on his neighbors, is available on his blog.


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