Lead with your art

February 09 2015

I’ve been transfixed by the story of Vidal, the random kid photographed on the street and the subsequent events that have followed — over one million dollars raised, scholarships, field trips, a meeting with the President.

Vidal’s principal, who publicly admitted to feeling discouraged and ready to throw in towel before this fantastic story unfurled, asked President Obama, “When is the time you felt most broken?

He tells the story of losing a Congress bid. His relationship with his wife was on the rocks, he was questioning himself, his work, his decisions. He was 40. He had invested time and energy and great sacrifice but didn’t feel like anything was working.

He decided to shift his focus and concentrate on the work.

“…If you can keep it about the work, you’ll always have a path. There’s always something to be done,” he answered, “…if you’re worrying about yourself — if you’re thinking: ‘Am I succeeding? Am I in the right position? Am I being appreciated?’— then you’re going to end up feeling frustrated and stuck.”

I remember when HONY first began. Brandon took photos quietly, documenting photos of strangers on the street and posting accompanying blurbs.

There were a lot of lonely times…All I did was take photographs. I never took a day off. I worked every single holiday. I took thousands of portraits before anyone paid attention. But even though I didn’t have much to show for it, I knew that I was getting better, and I knew the photographs were special,” Brandon writesDrip by drip, his photos became a Facebook page with thousands of loyal and inspired followers. He got a [best-selling!] book deal and a partnership with the UN.

Recommit if you must: Lead with your art, focus on the work. It will fall into place.