First off, I would like to say that it is an absolute honor to be asked on as a guest blogger on Scott Kelby’s  site.  A very important thing for me is expressing gratitude for opportunities that have come my way, and understanding how the good things in my life have come to pass.  Scott has been on the giving side for me on more than one occasion, both directly and from happenings through the ripple effect caused by the NAPP, and I just can’t say it enough.  Thank You.

For my few seconds up here on the soapbox, I would like to share with you a quick story and a few ideas that I THINK I know.  I say think with emphasis because I realize that life hasn’t given me all of the pieces yet. I’m here with the rest of you just trying to figure things out while everything around me, as well as myself, continue to change on a day to day basis.  One big thing I know for sure though is that I don’t know everything, and I never will.

Opportunities

Of all of the images that I have had the pleasure of dreaming up, or seeing happen before me, one of my favorite that comes to mind was more than ten years ago.  I wasn’t a professional photographer at the time, much less a professional anything. I was working a 9-5, collecting a paycheck, and living a pretty happy simple life.  That is an “uninspired” simple life. A few months prior I had picked up my first SLR from a pawnshop, a Minolta x-700, with a few lenses, pretty sweet deal. (That’s right all you purists, I was a film guy too back in the day. Let go.  It’s okay. I liked the little red light too, and if you miss the smell of fixer and stop bath that much you can always keep a tray of it next to your monitor. It’ll be ok.  8tracks were a great idea too at the time.  I digress…)   I carried that thing with me everywhere because you just never know right?  There I was, driving down Highway 270 in St. Louis, minding my own business when it hit me.  Nope. Not the car next to me, the image.

I saw it on the side of the road up ahead.  Traffic was really light so I saw it pretty clearly from a good distance away.  It was an old red truck, kind of a flat bed type but it had large wooden gates around all four sides.  The bed of this thing was filled to the brim with old tires, obviously some type of tire recycling truck.  The next thing I saw was the shiny golden nugget!  On the rear of the truck on the side opposite of the road there was a large jack cranked up lifting up the vehicle… Yep, you guessed it, flat tire. Next to this, the driver sat on the ground with a not so happy expression, talking on his cell.  The tire had been removed, lying next to him, but why hadn’t he put the spare on yet, he’s just sitti… OMG!  He doesn’t have one!  The phrase “water, water, everywhere, but not a drop to drink” came to mind.  I couldn’t believe it.  I started laughing out loud because back then I wasn’t using LOL yet.  So obviously the next thing I did was pull over to the side, jump out, camera in hand, and start firing off pictures of this unbelievable stroke of luck (mine not his) right?  Nope.  I kept going.  I thought about stopping maybe a hundred times in the 10 seconds it took me to pass him and then a few thousand more to the next exit where I could turn around and go back. But I didn’t.

Why not?  Who knows, maybe I didn’t want my head bashed in by a tire iron, for whatever the reason I saw this amazingly funny moment happening in front of me and I let it slip away.  Seeing this comical event inspired me to create an image to tell this story, but I let it go, even though I had the chance.  An opportunity presented itself and I passed it by.  To this day I remember that image that I didn’t create and I still see it perfectly.  I’m sure if I tried hard enough I could re-create it because I own a ton of Scott’s books and nowadays we can do anything with Photoshop right?  But I kinda like it the way that it is.  It’s the one that got away.  It’s the one that reminds me when I see a cool shot, not to pass it up. When I have an opportunity come my way, I should take it. Instead of coming away with a pretty funny image of our human existence, that day I got a life lesson.  To this day I am a firm believer in the thought that the things that are happening to us today are just practice for tests we will face tomorrow, and the way that we respond to them continue to shape our future.  I’m not sure who said that, but somebody must have.

Inspiration


I was recently honored to teach a seminar for the Westcott Top Pro Tour, and one of my main focuses was to encourage people to shoot with inspiration.  To be passionate about what you are creating.  Put a little forethought into your planning process and you will be surprised at what you come up with.  No matter if you’re a wedding photographer, portrait artist, graphics guy, retoucher, develop your style and share that with the world.  Realize that with the images you produce, you are sending out a message of who you are and what you have to say.  Your message doesn’t have to be a life-changing topic, but the images you are creating should at least have meaning to you and inspire you.  Because if they don’t, how can they move someone else?

Success

I count myself among the lucky who get to do what I like for a living, and have fun doing it.  I stopped working a long time ago.  On this day my “job” consists of sitting out on my back deck with my 2 dogs on a 74 degree Tuesday afternoon in November writing a blog for Scott’s page.  Not too shabby, I can think of much worse.  I think the definition of success depends on the way you see things.  I’m not rollin’ through the Lou (that’s St. Louis for all of you outta towners) in my brand new Benz, tryin’ to count my Benjamins through the glare of all the ice hangin’ round my neck! Nor do I care to be.  Nothing against Benz’s, Benjamins or ice, but what matters most to me is that I get to live my days the way I want. Not the way I have to, but the way I have chosen.  This didn’t happen overnight for me, and there where many people who passed through my life and handed me the keys to go further. And that bit of info is a huge piece that I believe is important to realize, acknowledge, and remember.  The people who touch our lives and points of reference of how things happen, so we can fully remember how far we’ve come, who helped us get there,  and realize what we can achieve.  No, I wouldn’t say I’ve reached the end zone just yet, but that safety behind me is pretty dang slow and if I just keep moving I think I can take him.

So what’s the moral of this story…

Hang out with Scott, Larry, Matt, Dave, Corey, and that Vanelli guy, and eventually all of your dreams will come true.

Or… it could be…

Be grateful for what comes your way.  Understand that life is trying to give you gifts, pay attention, and be open to them.  Put some thought and a little heart into your work and you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish.

You can see more of Michael’s work at mjgphoto.net and his Westcott Top Pro page

About The Author

45 Comments

  1. Dude, funny blog! :) I’d love to hand out with the PS guys, but for the dreams….well I’ll take those photos you have!
    Thanks for all the goods Michael!
    KT

  2. Your story with the flat tire reminded me of a joke:

    An exam in a journalist school, somewhere in the US. One of the questions: “Imagine you walk over a cliff. Suddenly you see a person who probably fell down, but managed to get hold of a branch. Now she holds to it one-handedly, with a 300 feet abyss below. You can either help the person, or take a photo, which could be Pulitzer-worthy. If faced with such a choice, what aperture and shutter time would you dial?”

    regards,
    LL

  3. Hey Michael,

    The first 3 shots posted above are awesome, great work. Over all a funny post. Love the moral of your post too, something for everyone to take in and learn from.

    Thank you for sharing.
    :)

  4. Good post, great advice. Love your images, especially the firestarter and Gaia ones. The Maroma shot is breathtaking too…

  5. Great post Michael! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Thanks for sharing – the last paragraph says it all.

  7. Michael, You are an inspiration to everyone that has the pleasure of knowing you. Thanks for your GREAT insights! I loved your post!

  8. Great inspiration blog. I needed that this morning. awesome photos

  9. Great Post. I think it is great that St. Louis has been represented on Scott Kelby’s blog. Maybe there is hope for me to someday break out of my everyday life like you did and do something inspiring with my dreams of being a photographer.

  10. Michael,

    Thanks for sharing a great (and funny) story and a great (and inspiring) message. It is a timely message for me as I am looking at ways of shifting my career focus from illustration/graphics to photography. I don’t want to go through life regretting that I passed by a great opportunity. Your truck story will serve to remind me that I need to pull off the highway and take my shot.

    Thank you!

    Trev J.

  11. What a great input from Michael Green … Just Yesterday I felt inspired and I said what a feeling … when something inspire u, u feel that there is something happening inside u, something is heating up rapidly. Use that feeling to ur advantage and create something that may consequently inspire someone else or changes someone’s else life. this post supported my feeling of yesterday and I’m so uplifted now.

    In the past few months I was thinking about life since I have no job and not studying, How can I change myself embrace my passion to photography. I’ve been lucky to come across Scott’s blog and all the people that he lead me to since I started to take photography seriously. I hate to be told by others how to live or do with my life, That’s why I figured that it’s time to put an end to this and start creating my own life.

    I’ll continue to learn and get inspired by all the good photographers and creative people I follow and develop my own unique way of showing my photography work. It’s not about what degree you have or what education level you’ve reached, It’s about what u get out of everyday experiences and how we respond to it. I took very destined decisions hoping that it will work for me, Either way I won’t lose but I’ll learn.

    Thanx Scott … Thanx Michael … it’s gonna be unforgettable day coz u supported my feeling without knowing it … :)

    I’ll keep following till the last breath … :)

  12. I was driving to work one day and saw an old man on the opposite side of the highway with a flat tire. It was starting to rain and he had this really super sad look to him, I checked the time and I had about 5 minutes to get to a meeting with at least 3 more minutes of driving time ahead of me. So instead of stopping to help I got myself to work. That old man plagued my mind all day long, I felt bad for not helping. 4 o’clock finally comes and as I head out to my truck…guess what? Yep, Flat tire and no spare.
    A few months later, I’m driving to work again, took the backroads this time, and sitting on the side of this country road is a man desperately chunking tools out of the back of his truck which is currently on fire. I called 911 and helped him load up some tools into my truck and we backed away and watched his truck burn to the ground. Still ended up being a rough day for the guy but I’ll be damned if i was going to walk out to the parking lot in 8 hours and see my truck on fire.

  13. Michael, Thanks so much for a great blog post. It was funny AND inspirational. I love your work, it is so creative. I hope, someday, we might get to see you teach a class at PSW !!

  14. “…the things that are happening to us today are just practice for tests we will face tomorrow, and the way that we respond to them continue to shape our future.” I think that says it all. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  15. What a amazing story of the one that got away. For those of you who didn’t make it to Photoshop World in Vegas, you missed out. Mr. Green shared so much at the Westcott booth and at the Westcott model area. It was an absolute pleasure to visit with him and listen to his methods of talking to the models in front of your camera.
    Mike, thank you so much for thse small but very important lessons during the 3 days in September.
    Hanging out with the Kelby Crew wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Moose Peterson and Joe McNally.
    Mike

  16. What a wonderfully inspirational post, Michael! I have a truck story in my past that I remember all too well to this day also. You’ve put things in such clear perspective with both your words and your images. That last paragraph sums it all up. Thanks for sharing with us today. It was a most enjoyable morning read.

  17. I met Michael briefly @ Photoshop World ’10 Las Vegas at the Westcott Booth.

    I had never photographed a model before, nor had I ever experienced shooting with lights. I was so impressed with the confidence that Michael exuded while giving advice to the photographers there like myself. I instantly became hooked on studio lighting.

    I entered the Westcott Photo Contest with a photo I took that day…and won!
    Thank you Michael, for being such an inspiration!
    Regina

  18. Thank you all very much, you’re too kind. But here is the ironic twist, reading your posts, and knowing that my thoughts could have a positive influence on your day, or weeks, or months ahead is motivation and inspiration to me. Thanks guys. Ahhh behold the power of positive energy!

  19. “Realize that with the images you produce, you are sending out a message of who you are and what you have to say. Your message doesn’t have to be a life-changing topic, but the images you are creating should at least have meaning to you and inspire you. Because if they don’t, how can they move someone else?”

    I like this quote from you, Michael! Thanks for sharing…good blog post!

    Hey, it was good to meet you at PSW-Orlando this year.

  20. When I attended PSW for the first time in Las Vegas I was lucky enough to catch a westcott class that Michael was teaching on the expo floor. He is an exceptional photographer and teacher. I learned so much in the short amount of time that I stalked, oops I mean followed him around from booth to booth shooting photos.
    Thank you Michael for sharing your time and your passion with me and I hope to catch you again in Vegas next year. Maybe this time I wont have so many questions.

  21. Mike. What a wonderful blog. Your inspiration is your gift and I thank you!!!

  22. Great post. Nice to have some humor thrown in once in awhile. It made my smile while reading it.

    Thanks.

  23. Thanks for the great post Michael! Hope to see you again at PSW in Orlando. :)

  24. Great read Michael.
    amazing work.

  25. Michael,

    Great post. Thanks for sharing.

    – A.J.

  26. How cool–I had no idea Tommy Shaw was into photography!

  27. Michael…great insight! Thanks for sharing! You nailed it!

    Michael Schlueter

  28. I wanna be like Mike! ;)

    Great post man… Congrats!!

  29. I met Michael Green at a few PSW’s (Photoshop World) and all I can say he is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet. Have any questions about lighting, photography and with out hesitations he’s explaining every little detail. How cool is that? How many other Photographers will do that? It goes to show he is a down to earth kinda guy and loves what he does and does it with style.

    Thanks Scott for having him as this weeks Blog Guest.

  30. Mike you are a real inspiration to me! Loved the artical and your message…. Best wishes to you and and all your dreams! :)

  31. Awesome post Michael; you put humor to words like a true comedian and inspire many more than you can possibly imagine.

    heath

  32. wow great story, it really motive me a lot, because sometimes I keep thinking…It is Photography what I want ? it is the right choice for my future, and the answer always is the same; yes I would like to do this for living because for the first time I found something that I love and enjoy to do…Thanks for sharing this story, that motive a lot of people to keep going forward in order to achieve what you want.

  33. Michael- Don’t read this post!

    Ok now that he’s gone-

    There is a lot to be said about Mike’s work, and it shows where he is being called. There’s also a lot to say about how he can give advice, inspiration, or his take on how to make it in the photo biz.
    But what about just as someone who goes out of his way to be helpful? I think it’s worth crediting because, well it’s a rarity these days. It would take a whole blog post in itself to describe how Michael helped me when I called him out of the blue one day a couple of years ago, just to ask how to produce a shoot for a swimsuit calendar. He didn’t know me then, took the time to talk, and all the while delaying his packing for a swimsuit shoot in Cancun. No one does that.
    Or when he says he’ll call you back, and really does. Or remembers how he met you 3 years later, and tells that story to those whom he introduces you to- without missing a detail. Not many folks do that. So, for anyone who is fortunate enough to work with or commission Michael, I think there’s more to appreciate than just his amazing images. Class and respectability. Tip ‘o the hat to ya Mike, Cheers.

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