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We all stand on the dock from time-to-time (me included), knowing we want to get in the water and swim. The hardest part is taking that first plunge into the cold and even more so, keeping our head above the surface. For those who have been following my friend Zack Arias’ blog know, he has recently written a series of blog posts regarding just that. Take the time to read through his series of highly inspirational posts HERE, HERE and HERE.

Regardless if we’re a beginning photographer or an experienced professional, we often find ourselves either stuck in a creative rut or holding ourselves back from following our hearts to create something original and fresh. We know what we want to create, but we don’t quite know how to make it happen. As a result of that frustration, we simply put it on the back burner or give up all together. Sometimes the pace of our lives and the pressure of a paid job can cloud the way we approach our work. Or worse, we simply avoid getting out of our safety zone and we eventually give up the ghost.

Yesterday as I was archiving some old SIMPLE+DIRTY work, Trevor and I came across some of my very first photography work from 2004. Although we shared some tear-inducing laughs at my old stuff, it struck me that I would not have gotten to the point I am right now without busting my butt, day-in and day-out, screwing up hundreds if not thousands of photos along the way. I came to the realization that if I had not stuck my neck out there, I would never had made the mistakes to learn something new. At the time, I had no clue what I was doing. But I did it. Although in hindsight my photos sucked and frustration was abundant, it made me push myself to new personal goals with each click of the shutter.

When I first started out, I had a deep interest in shooting band promotional photos. The problem was I compared myself to all the other amazingly talented photographers out there and as a result, I told myself I couldn’t do it. That I couldn’t match up. After talking myself into actually doing it, I shot my first series of band photos for free. Having blindly jumped into it, I did the best I could do. Even though the photos were….. well…. gross, I was proud to call them my own.

(Remember The Day – first promo shoot, circa 2004.)

Then the frustration set in. I hated my work. I told myself I could never make a decent band photo, worthy of anyones appreciation. As a result of that frustration, I became pissed at myself. I was at a point in which I decided I needed to do something different with my photography. It was a long, teeth grinding process of finding my creative vision, but it eventually came as I developed new skills.

(Sunday Flood – 2009.)

(Sunday Flood – 2009.)

In Zack’s latest BLOG POST he challenged all of us to make that first plunge. To try something new for ourselves, but more importantly for someone else. That’s where I stand today. I need a challenge. I want my photography to grew to new markets, to new clients and set myself apart from others. But I want it to somehow make a difference.

And that’s what I intend to do. I’m taking on Zack’s call to action. I’m going to serve someone with my camera.

I intend on taking you through the process on this blog over the next month. My goal is to tackle a product advertising campaign at zero cost for a non-profit organization that we recently became acquainted with in Dubuque, IA. I’m excited to take this on, but my frustration is that I want this to be different, yet awesome. I want it to stray away from a simple product shot, yet have value to a client in need. I have a few ideas in my mind, but I don’t quite know how to make it happen. In fact, it may not work at all. But I’m going to try even if it means I end up on the dock, soaking wet.

Thank you Zack, for giving me another shove into the water.


  1. Posted 25 Aug ’09 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    Amen brother! Can’t wait to see what you’ll be creating!

  2. Posted 25 Aug ’09 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    Well tomorrow I get my first chance to swim … I got a nice opportunity with my “day job” to shoot 45 employee headshots … 3 hours to get it done … No, this type of photo doesn’t really require a lot of creative thought- but it’s my first chance- gives me an opportunity to build some self-confidence.

    I think we both agree that ZA a very inspiring guy!

  3. Posted 25 Aug ’09 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    Incredible stuff Dave, you’ve come a ways and it shows how much you love what you do. I’ve been reading Zack’s blog a lot recently myself and has inspired me to do the same thing. Stoked to see what you come up with, man.

  4. Heather - P.T.S.
    Posted 25 Aug ’09 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    Thank you so much for sharing your inspiration allows you to inspire others. I am learning everyday and plan to do so for the rest of my life. Can’t wait to see what you do.

  5. LeonRaz
    Posted 25 Aug ’09 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for sharing Dave I guess everybody starts somewhere right.

  6. Andy Quadra
    Posted 25 Aug ’09 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    Dave- I don’t know if you realize what you just did. You showed us your story line, all that we see and have seen so far from you is your great work. We all sit back, take a deep breath, and just hope to be that good one day. Then this post comes along and you show us your first picture, all of a sudden the perspective changes. You have put in a ton of work into your photography, and a new hope begins that perhaps with dedication, trial and error, we find our own.

    I’m signed up and ready to take this challenge, I am not even thinking about the results because I also think my photography sucks. However, the thought of jumping off the dock is extremely exciting no matter the output.


  7. Posted 9 Apr ’10 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    Dave – I first came across your blog from the photographers profile on Canonrumors.com and I’m SO happy that I found you. I’ve literally been going back through every blog post you’ve done and I have to say how awesome I think your work is. Crazy good.

    To that end, it gave me a sense of hope that an individuals photography skills can indeed be improved and they aren’t just born with it (although I’m sure that is a large aspect). Seeing your earlier work shows how far you’ve come and gives a newbie like me a new sense of drive. I’m heading into my first summer as a photographer getting paid for a few gigs and it’s nothing short of terrifying. Can I accomplish what I’ve promised? Will I deliver what’s expected? Will I keep my head above the water? I sure hope so, and with hard work and any luck I’m confident I will. I would love some day to meet you and pick your brain, maybe even attend one of your workshops. Living in the most Easterly point in North America in Canada, you’re quite a ways away but you never know : )

    Congrats and continued success, love your work.



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