Episode 10

22/02/2021

Do it for the love - the New Orleans trumpeter

About this episode

Do it for the love of it and you won't work a day in your life. Apart from when it feels like you're working. A story about an epiphany I had about doing it for the love and how I apply it to my own creative life.

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Do it for the love - the New Orleans trumpeter

If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life… such a great quote… easily said, and equally easily forgotten when your passion turns into a business and you’ve got all the stresses and strains that go with it… that’s today’s episode of The Positive Creatives!

[INTRO]

Hey there and welcome back! Or welcome if you’re listening for the first time. I’m back with another episode to give you some more stuff to think about to maintain a positive creative mindset!

Where are the weeks going right now? It’s absolutely crazy how fast time is flying during this pandemic. It feels like you blink and another week has passed. Which is good I guess because each week is another week closer to the end of this thing.

Anyway, I’ve had some absolutely lovely messages this week, including one today from a photographer friend, who said the nicest things about how she’s started to look forward to Mondays partly because of this podcast. I won’t name her because I bet she’s cringing just hearing me mention this.

She also mentioned that she started off hating my little jingle at the start but now she sings along and loves it and that was possibly my favourite part of her message!!

I also had another message earlier in the week from a photographer I met about 8 years ago at a workshop and thanks to the wonders of social media we’ve managed to sort of keep in touch ever since. Again she said some really nice things and then at the end she was like – “not sure if you care” haha.

So let me clarify something – I’ve said a few times that I’m trying not to care if anyone’s listening, and I try not to look at the stats on listeners and whatnot, but of course it makes my day when I get one of these messages and someone is listening, and they’re loving it. I do make the episodes for you to listen to, so it means the world when I find out you’re listening and liking it!

So yeah I’m doing this podcast because I love recording, and I love talking about creativity. I have no plans to monetise it, I have no long term plan for it, I just want to enjoy the process and do it for the love.

So you’ve heard that phrase, that quote that us creatives love to share on the good days – it’s from Marc Anthony and it goes “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life”.

Notice I said we share it on the good days!

I absolutely love my job, don’t get me wrong. I feel incredibly lucky to make my living from photography and other creative bits and bobs. At the good times I have to pinch myself but there are obviously days and times and parts of the job when it definitely feels like I’m working, so what does this quote actually mean?

Well I think it’s just to highlight the big difference between working for your own gains, and your own goals and to your own rules, instead of working for someone else’s gains, goals and rules.

Even the days when you’re like ‘ugh, I have to do my accounts today’ or maybe you had to take a job that wasn’t perfect because you’ve got bills to pay, or whatever – even on those days you’d still rather be doing that than taking orders from someone who gets paid to give you orders.

And if you’ve been fortunate enough to be freelance or self employed your whole working life, then take my word for it. Answering to a boss sucks. Or maybe that was just me. No… it wasn’t just me. It sucks!

So I wanted to tell you a story today about a time when I was reminded about how important it is to do what we do for the love, and to remind ourselves from time to time that we DO love it.

Ok so rewind back to the summer of 2017 and my reputation in my little industry was doing well and I had become incredibly busy. I was shooting more weddings that year than ever before, I was teaching workshops, organising conferences and mentoring a handful of photographers one on one. I was really the busiest I’ve ever been probably.

As the year passed by I started to feel jaded. But earlier than usual. If you’re a busy wedding photographer there’s often a late summer wall when you just feel the relentlessness of going from wedding to wedding, and I’m sure it’s the same in most seasonal creative industries. But this year the wall came early and by late summer I was just done.

Honestly, I was ready to quit. I had very real thoughts of what am I doing, I don’t love this any more and actually worse – I had thoughts that I don’t care about this any more.

Obviously at that time that was an incredibly worrying thought as I didn’t know what else I’d do if I wasn’t shooting weddings.

But I saw that summer through, and thankfully my responsibility to my clients was able to override these frankly irrational thoughts that I think we can all get when we’re heading for some kind of burnout from taking on far too much.

I knew I had two amazing trips to look forward to at the end of that year – both for weddings – one to Kenya and one to New Orleans and that kept me going through the summer craziness.

Kenya was incredible as always. Just the most welcoming country I’ve ever been to. I’ve been lucky enough to go twice and it’s just one of those places that fills your soul up.

But my story is about the trip after that, to one of my bucket list cities – New Orleans.

Now if you thought I was cool before you’ll think I’m super cool when I tell you that I spent my teenage years in a brass band and I just fell in love with brass band music and the big band sound, which developed into a love for Jazz and Miles Davis and Blues as I got older. So visiting New Orleans was always a dream and it was a dream that came true in late 2017.

I was lucky enough to have a great mate with me on the trip and the night we arrived, we headed straight for the middle of town. We were tired, we needed sleep but it was Halloween which in New Orleans is only second to Mardi Gras so you don’t arrive in New Orleans on Halloween and go straight to bed, no matter how tired you are.

So we got into town, these two British dweebs dressed normally in a sea of the most incredible costumes you’ve ever seen. As we got out of the taxi, there was a brass band playing on the corner and I had one of those moments of ‘oh… my word… I’m here because I’m good with a camera… this is insane…’

But this isn’t the story I’m here to tell, I’m just setting the scene…

So we walk into the first bar we see and there’s a live band playing. Maybe 5 or 6 musicians. And it’s just the greatest sound, the greatest atmosphere… just the greatest everything. It’s emotional!

I’m standing there watching this band and I probably threw about 20 dollars in the tip jar because it was just mesmerisingly good and almost all the bands playing in bars in New Orleans are doing it for tips only. So if you ever go there make sure you tip!

Anyway the next thing I notice a guy walking in off the street playing the trumpet. He looks maybe 60 or 70 years old and the way he’s playing you can tell the trumpet hardly leaves his lips.

Gradually as he gets closer to the stage he transitions from the song he was playing on the street to the song this band are playing. There’s some eye contact and a nod and now he’s on stage with them, joining in, playing along, sometimes just tapping his feet.

This guy never plays to the audience.

He never even looks out to the audience to see if they’re enjoying it.

He just plays, and listens, and gets lost and plays and listens and gets lost.

He stays for probably 4 songs and then he jumps down from the stage, still playing, and walks right out the way he just came in, probably to go and find another bar with another band that he can lend his talent and his soul to for a little while.

And he’s no doubt been doing this all night.

This was an epiphany I needed at this point in my career.

I needed to be this trumpet player.

No I didn’t need to learn trumpet. I’d love to play the trumpet and one day hopefully I will.

I needed to have the same attitude to photography and creative life as this wandering trumpeter had in New Orleans.

I needed to remember why I became a photographer. And it was because I fell head over heels in love with making photos. And then I fell in love with doing that at weddings.

The problem I had was something this trumpeter didn’t have. I thought too much about the audience. I wasn’t playing to just play. Or in my case taking photos just for the love of taking photos. I was getting too wrapped up in other people’s opinions of me and my work and putting pressure on myself to live up to other people’s expectations all the time.

I’d stopped doing it because I loved it, and I’d started to do it because other people liked it. And that was a huge realisation and I’ve slipped into that since, but I’m able to catch myself early now.

That whole trip which took us from New Orleans to Jackson, to Memphis and Nashville up the Blues Trail was a trip of major introspection for me and it all started with this trumpet guy.

Maybe he was a mirage I don’t even know but it was the exact life lesson I needed at that time.

So be the trumpet guy. Do it for the love. Your clients are the band he came and joined in with – he gave them a piece of his soul and then left and did the same for another band in another bar.

That’s what we’ve got to do.

Do it for the love.

If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.

And never take it for granted. Or when you inevitably do, give yourself a slap in the ego and snap out of it.

Alright, hope you enjoyed that. Listen read and watch this week are…

LISTEN – It’s another ted talk by a guy called Rory Sutherland, and it’s called Perspective is Everything. Please watch it, you’ll love it. I watched it three times today!

READ – Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig. Matt Haig is an amazing author and I love him equally on Instagram. Just a book well worth reading for anyone, especially if you have any struggles with mental health.

WATCH – I’m recommending a series on Disney Plus called Inside Pixar. It’s really easy to watch and it just gives these cool micro insights into different people’s creative brains. Very cool.

Ok thanks for joining me this week and I hope you are able to remind yourself why you do what you do and reconnect with the love you have for it that may be clouded at times. And I’ll see you next time on The Positive Creatives!

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