If You Knew You Could Not Fail, What Would You Do Or Be?

This has been a huge year for me. A little more than that actually about a year and five months ago things began to change.

In August 2010 Ray, my husband, and I started planning a month long trip to Yosemite National Park in California. Yosemite! A photographer’s dream location. I decided I was ready to take the next step with my photography and upgrade my equipment. I invested $3,000 in a Canon 7D and my first L lens, a 24-105 f4L.

Yosemite was and still is the most beautiful place in world I have ever seen. It is one of those few places where no matter how often people tell you how amazing it is and build up your expectations, it really is that good when you see it in person.

When I got back in October, I decided to take the advice of one of my idols Chase Jarvis and start building an audience. I knew it would be quite some time before I had anything big to say or to sell, but when I was finally ready, I needed to have some people to tell about it.

I started taking my blog more seriously. I had a blog already but I only posted once a month or so. I started posting at least once per week.

I decided to stop being a dinosaur and give in to social networking. I started with Twitter. I found some of my favourite photographers and started following them. I was surprised by how much information they shared about how they created their images. People started following me too and we had some great conversations and I found some inspirational work and great learning resources.

I also started facebook and flickr, but honestly those have not had the same results for me. As of now I don’t post on flickr at all (I may have to give it another shot) and facebook is a bit of a dud, but I still link my blog posts there.

Then, in about January of this year, a photographer I know started making changes in his life. I am referring to Jim Moitke of BetterPhoto.com. I knew him not only through the online photography school where I had taken some classes but also through a workshop he gave in Seattle. Jim interviewed me for his series of audio-interviews on his blog “Gain the Secrets of Success from Master Photographer Anne McKinnell”. I couldn’t believe he considered me a master photographer!

Jim started making some changes in his career to move into motivational speaking and helping others with personal development. He asked me a question which turned out to mark the beginning of an important change in my life. He asked me “If you knew you could not fail, what would you do or be?”

It was an exercise, I was to get out a paper and pen and devote 10 minutes to it. I began with lofty goals. I mean if I could not fail, who would not want to create world peace or end poverty? I wanted to save the ocean, find a cure for cancer and depression. Ok, so if I could not fail, how would I accomplish it? I would have to use my skills to communicate to the world: photography and writing. I mean really, if I have to write it down, and it sounds crazy I know, but this is it: National Geographic Photographer. That’s just insane, but hey, it’s just an exercise.

Then in February a friend of mine died only six months after being diagnosed with cancer. I was shocked. I know it sounds cliche, but it made me start thinking about how short life is and whether I was living the life I wanted. Here’s another cliche: mid-life crisis. I admit it, I was in my early 40’s and giving serious thought to how my life was turning out.

I decided that if I did not take the leap and at least try to have the life I really really wanted deep down, I would always wonder what would have happened if…

Now that I’ve made the big change in my life and my new journey is six months in I finally realize Jim was right about one thing. I cannot fail.

Well I think I’ve written more words this week than I ever have before, so I am going to give the blog a rest now until the new year. (Sorry Toad, I know you wanted to see the photos of the Daytona Racetrack, but you’ll have to wait until January now.)

I want to thank all of my loyal friends and followers who have made such a big difference to me this year. In addition to my family and my real-life friends, I have made contact with over 500 photography enthusiasts on facebook, 1700 on twitter, and a whopping 15,890 on Google Plus!! I know that a lot of the G+ people are just numbers, but I figure there are a core group of a few thousand who regularly interact with me. I write on my blog 5 days a week now and I have an audience of 3,700 unique visitors every month (not including the search bots only the real people!), many of whom come back every day. I am overwhelmed with the response.

Merry Christmas and let this be my gift to you: Answer this question – If you knew you could not fail, what would you do or be?

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  1. Mim Eisenberg says

    I am delighted we have “met” this year, Anne. Your work is as thrilling as how you must feel shooting and writing about it. You made a really wise move into doing what you knew you would not fail in. Kudos to you, with best wishes for continued health and fulfillment in the new year.

    • says

      Thank you so much Mim, meeting people like you online and through the blog has really kept me going. I am amazed at how much support I get and how many people are interested in my ebook and travelling stories. I learn a lot from the other photographers I have made contact with too. I think because I am living the life I want to lead means I cannot fail. I might not succeed in traditional monetary ways, but that’s not the point. Thanks again all your kind comments and I wish you all the best in the new year.

  2. says

    Anne, another great post which I have just skimmed through, I will sit down over Christmas and read the last two or three again – properly! Your photography has been a great inspiration to me in recent weeks. My best wishes for Christmas and I Look forward to seeing more of your work in the New Year
    LensScaper recently posted..Season’s GreetingsMy Profile

    • says

      Thank you so much Andy, it means a lot to me to think that I could possibly inspire others. I’m very glad to have made contact with you this year and I thank you for all your kind comments on the blog. I hope you had a great Christmas and all the best in the New Year!

    • says

      Oh wow, thanks Chris!! I can’t tell you how much that means to me. You have been very supportive of me and my big life change over this past year and I cannot thank you enough. Happy New Year and I wish you all the happiness in the world.

  3. says

    I can remember reading your posts as you built up to taking this giant leap and thinking to myself ‘I wish I could do that’. Now, after following you this year and reading Dave DuChemin’s latest ebook, I realize that I can and in fact must make some kind of change. I know that going out on your own is hard work but I already spend 6 & 7 days a week working so why should they not be spent working for myself doing something I love. I have already started laying the ground work for this change and hopefully fortune will smile on me at the right times and help make this a reality.
    Curt Fleenor recently posted..Out Of The DarkMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Curt, it makes me so happy to read your words! I too find David duChemin’s writing and photography incredibly inspirational and was motivated by him when I made my changes too. If there’s anything at all I can do to help you make your plans please feel free to email me or we’ll talk on twitter or whatever. I can’t wait to see what you come up with. I just know it will be exciting and you will never regret going after what you love to do. The more I talk to people who have broken out of the “traditional life” the more I am glad I am with them. Good luck and happy New Year!

  4. says

    Really great post anne! I always tell myself that i can make it in the world of photography and never think negatively about it. I often can get frustrated by the business side but i remind myself of my successes over the past year…published in a magazine and in a book isnt too bad! Now that i have built up a good fan base its time to focus more on the business side. Great post…really inspirational!
    andy gimino recently posted..Two Of A KindMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Andy, congratulations on being published in a magazine and a book! It’s exciting when you are first published, that happened to me this year too. Many people find the business side difficult when they are more interested in a creative art, but it really is a requirement to success in the field these days. Unless you get someone else to do it for you, lots of people do that too. Farm out the stuff you don’t like to do so you can focus on what makes you happy.

  5. Amber Bracken says

    Inspiring stuff Anne. I am new to google plus & am also a new photographer. I lost my 21 year old son nearly 2 years ago, and have been recreating my life ever since. Part of my university degree included some courses on photography and I love it. The process, the solitude, the patience and the time to sit and appreciate the world around me has brought some peace, some motivation as have people like you and this blog. Mid life crisis or not, we all need to be our authentic selves if only for a little while, if we can … The trick is finding out who that is. Well done on a life well lived so far, for being brave enough to make the changes and for sharing your experience to inspire others. Your photos are spectacular. Merry Xmas from Australia.

    • says

      Hi Amber, thank you so much for taking the time to write such a thoughtful comment! I can’t imagine what you have been through with loosing your son, how do you even survive that and come out thinking anything but bad things about the world? The solitude of going out photographing on my own seems to give me peace and finding beautiful things to photograph always makes the world seem a better place. I’m glad you found a way through photography to help yourself heal. It is one of the things I have been focussing on communicating: photography can be a great tool for people who suffer from depression or who are grieving or otherwise having a difficult time in life to help them change the focus of their thoughts. Thanks again for visiting and sending me your insightful thoughts.

  6. Alexander says

    Happy New Year Anne,
    I love to read your blogs, the pictures are great too.
    Wish you and your travel mates all the best for 2012, with a lot of health to keep on going on with your journey!

    • says

      Hi Alexander, Happy New Year to you! Thanks for visiting and I wish you good light in 2012. By the way, my feature in Rosana’s magazine should be coming out in March she said. Thanks again for hooking us up.

  7. Alexander says

    Hello Anne,
    That is good news . You will love the magazine.
    I am leaving next week Sunday to Yellowstone Park.
    Hope to get some great shots.

  8. Andy says

    Happy New Year Anne. If you should find yourself on the right (east) coast of Florida, specifically in the West Palm Beach area, my wife and I would love to meet you and your husband. I would love to become a nomadic photographer for a year and could use your input to convince her!! I truly enjoy following you on G+ and your web site. Keep up the good photography and be safe. Thank you for sharing.


    • says

      Hi Andy, aww it would have been great to meet you and your wife, we always like to meet like-minded folk and encourage them to get rid of all their stuff and travel! We have already gone past your area. My blog posts are always a few weeks behind my actual travels because I need time to write and process the photos. Right now we are in Fort Myers and on our way to St. Petersburg tomorrow. There’s a big RV show there next week.

      Well if I have one thing to recommend if you want to take a year off to travel it is to get rid of any debt you might have because that is what anchors you to the ground. Without debt you are free to take risks and make changes in your life and just see what happens. Also, no one ever regrets travelling. Let me know what hurdles you need to overcome and I’ll try to help you convince her :)

  9. Loldri says

    I am not 100% sure that the facebook and flikr thing work as well as everyone makes out so I wouldnt worry that you didnt hit it off there in the way you hoped. I am doing photography while still at uni and even as connected as I am socially (not a boast but I think living on campus really helps extend social media networks) I dont think there will be much coming through flikr anytime soon.
    Loldri recently posted..Young Driver InsuranceMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Loldri, thanks for your comments. Are you studying photography at uni or is it a hobby? Either way I think it is good to cast a wide net with the social networking. You just never know where clients or customers are going to come from. One photographer I know said he has received a number of assignments from people who found him on flickr and another who does most of his business through facebook. Just spread the word out as far as you can! Thanks for your visit.

  10. says

    So glad I found your blog on lightstalking.com. I lost my father and a cousin from cancer within a year and then turned 40. Since then, I’ve been slowly trying to form a new life for myself. Unexpectedly, I found myself combining two of my loves, music and photography professionally part-time, and travel photography as a hobby. This year I’m determined to become a serious music photographer. Your blog post have been inspiring as I’m feeling the itch to do something dramatic. First small move, update my photography blog more than once every 3 or 4 months. I’m not the RV type but my VW Rabbit will be getting a serious workout.

    Some of my concert photos: http://www.examiner.com/maroon-5-in-national/maroon-5-plays-new-jersey-picture

    • says

      Hi Carla, I’m sorry to hear about your father and cousin. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to loose someone I am that close to. But I’m glad you’re on the road to a new life for yourself. Music photography would be a fun career and a good way to make money in photography. Not only covering live shows, but album covers, promotional posters and other things. It sounds like a lot of fun. Thank you very much for your comments on the blog, I am really glad you find it inspiring, that means a lot to me. Good luck! And if there is anything I can do to help out, don’t hesitate to ask. Keep in touch!

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