We're a little over a month into my newest experiment in creativity enhancement.
If this is your first time logging on to the blog, welcome! Let's rewind a little bit... In November, I found my myself in an incredibly painful place for a creative to be... I wasn't creating anything consistently, I felt that I had lost my vision, and I felt, as no creative should, unhappy with being a creator.
In short, I felt like a fraud.
So a couple of months ago, I was creating an incredible amount of content for clients, but it wasn't anything that made it to my website, social media, or newsletter. I was churning out content for new assignments at the rate of 5-6 clients a week, but my creativity - my passion, my lifeblood, it was suffering.
One night, a few weeks before my wife and I got married, I caught wind of Casey Neistat's daily vlog retirement. In the last few months, Casey has rekindled my flame for creativity and content creation. I knew the secret that helped make Casey so successful and creative over the last year, and it's no secret at all - he followed his passion, put out content every day, and shared his love for life and business with everyone. It was his signing off that signed me back on to the very early days of creating in my own career, 6 years ago.
On that fateful night last November, I set out to create a new photo and write a new blog post every single day. And, while I haven't been completely successful in my commitment, I have been able to achieve, for the most part, exactly what I set out to do - even though it's been incredibly difficult.
Once I had warmed up my creative engines for a few weeks, I got married and took a week off of the daily blog to spend time with my incredible wife in the desert. I was initially afraid of disconnecting from my creative work so quickly after beginning it once again, but disconnecting from it helped me gain clarity, enhance my creativity further, and feel an even stronger desire to create.
By disconnecting for a short bit from my daily creative work, I was able to breathe in the fresh air of creativity.
Read: It's important to take "vision" breaks to breathe new life in to your creativity.
During our honeymoon, I was able to reflect on myself as a creator, Kiara and I as a creative team, and what it meant to put out content daily. I was also able to reflect on what was truly possible in terms of allocating my time towards personal projects, where I needed the most growth as an artist, and most importantly, what type of content I wanted to put out on my blog.
This was an integral turning point for me in the last month: I realized that I didn't have to constantly put out a fine art photograph every single day, and that doing so didn't define me as a photographer.
This realization was like waking up to an entirely new world than the one I went to sleep in the night before.
So I started putting out all KINDS of new visual content.
I created gifs.
I created cinemagraphs.
I told stories through scanned receipts.
I decided I was going to buy a drone.
I bought props for creative images.
I felt like an entirely new way of creating, and what it meant to be a creator opened up to me
and, because of this vision-shift, I changed my blog name to Talley Media.
The biggest realization that I've made so far in this project is that I've been far too obsessed with the TYPE and STYLE of photos I create, that I've forgotten that my ultimate vision is to show that we can each bring light to the darkness.
And I think this is where a lot of issues come up for many photographers - we become so engrossed in the type of images we create that we forget to share our true, deep vision that communicates the change we want to see in the world.
It's understandable - there's community found in groups of people that create similar content. And don't get me wrong - it's important to define the type of content you create as deemed necessary by your vision, but it's just not the most important thing you could do.
Instead, we'd all do a lot better to first find our vision for creativity as photographers, find what we want to say to the world, and THEN match that to the type of content we create. It could be
it doesn't matter as long as you create something that matters to your vision.
Remember this, because it's very important:
Your creative vision will go unknown if you never share your vision for the world within it.
So where does that leave me? And why have I not created a daily photo for the last 5 days?
Well, I can owe that mostly to the holidays, moving, meetings and deadlines. While I still think it's completely possible to create images every day during all of these things, I'm also learning how to build, run, and manage a business that I'm creating. That's really hard to do, and my clients and their projects 100% always get the most attention from me during the day.
That's because I know myself, and I know my goals. I have a hierarchy for what's most important to me right now.
I just got married, and my wife and I are moving in to our first home together in a few days. My highest priority, above anything else, is to provide a safe and comfortable atmosphere for the woman I love more than anyone in the entire world.
The rest of my priorities, not including personal priorities such as maintaining relationships with other people I love, my health, etc., are all about providing value in whatever way I can to my audience, to YOU, to the people who are the fuel for me to keep going and growing.
You guys push me forward and I want to share my journey with you, which is what this blog is all about.
So knowing where my priorities are, I have to look at reverse-engineer how that practically play out in my life. The structure is essentially three-tiered:
> Make sure my family feels loved, valued and safe
>> Build a sustainable business for my family
>>> Create beautiful content that shares my vision of sharing the light in the darkest places
My family is always my highest priority, but beyond that, my goals are plenty. I want Kiara to be able to chase her passion and I want to chase her passion beside her. I want to make sure that we move in to our own house within three years. I want my children to be able to spend time with their mother and father. I want to be able to see our family in both Australia and America more than once a year. I want to eat healthy. I want to spread light wherever I go. I want to create a movement of people spreading light whenever THEY go. I want to show people what a real marriage looks like, the ups, downs, goods, and bads.
So these goals, they require me to look at what I'm doing and how I'm going to approach creating for this blog, how I'm going to approach daily creativity, etc.
I tell everyone I know who wants to be a better content creator that they need to go out and create the same thing in different variations every day for as long as they can. But there's a second side to this - and it's even more important.
As important as it is to create something new every single day, it's just as important to know who you are and what your goals are.
If you're just randomly creating every day without vision, then you'll never actually gain real benefits from creating daily. You need to have focus, vision, and goals for creating daily.
What does that look like practically for David Talley?
I've been a content creator and photographer for 6 years. I have a massive skill in creating photographs and building audiences and bringing people together. I talk loud about things that are important, things that empower people.
But shooting new photos every day just isn't something I need.
Photography is a skill I have already developed so well - it's just one that I haven't executed as well or as consistently for personal work. And this project has showed me, so far, that the most important thing I could do is not create a new photo every day - but rather, just create and share. I've learned that the true place my attention is needed is on the writing of this blog, so that's where this project is headed - daily blogging, because I think it provides the most value.
I have a huge belief that unless you iterate what you're doing, you're going to burn out. This blog and my creativity are mine, and mine to share. I need to focus on my strengths and combine my strengths with my goals in order to develop a system that works well...
So here's what I'm going to do:
I'm continuing to blog every day, but I'm going to change the way I create photos - reserving one day a week for nothing but personal content creation. Those are the photos I will share here.
This is the part where knowing myself comes in handy - I know that I can plan an entire week's worth of content to shoot, and I can shoot it all in one day... but trying to fit all of my concepts in to daily execution with a massive schedule in the winter months is a task that, for me, at this time, is unrealistic. Instead, I'm going to push creative content out from one day of shooting over the course of every week.
This is why it's so important to know what you're capable of - I need to be better at execution, but I don't need to learn the skills of photography, which is more suited for the photographer I was 6 years ago.
To make it simple, I've assessed the good, I'm leaving the bad, and I'm running with the best. Here's how to find that for yourself as a creator, too:
1) Know your vision:
This is the most important thing I could ever tell any creative to do: find your vision as a creator. Know why you create. Know exactly what you want to share with the world. Know exactly the impact you want to make on it. If you want a fool-proof way to find your vision, I wrote a book earlier this year exactly on that - until new years day, it's on sale for $5. It's called "The Single Sentence," and it's designed to help you develop a single guiding sentence for your creative work over the course of 27 immersive, interactive pages. You can get it by clicking here. Find your vision, and you'll be able to do so much more than you ever imagined, because "lack of inspiration" or "not knowing what to create" will never be an issue for you again. You'll always know what to create.
2) Define your goals:
This is a super-important thing I talk to a ton of my students about. I share this at lectures. I tell my friends that they should do this. You need to define your goals, long term and short term, in all areas of your life. If you don't, you'll never stay on track with creating the life that you desire. For 2017, my goals are incredibly simple: Family, then Content & Clients.
I want to grow deeper and closer to my wife, my family, and my friends through intentional time spent together away from electronics and over more coffee and burritos and hikes.
In 2017, I want to provide a new, more beautiful, more personal, more value-giving, more light-bringing way of doing business and creating content for at least 100 business around the world that have a vision for a more beautiful world, just like I do.
Finally, I want to put out more valuable, free, beautiful content to my audience that shares my journey as an artist AND an entrepreneur, that gives values and brings light with every post I make. I want to post a new blog every single day for all of 2017, and I want every single person who reads the Talley Media blog to be insanely changed by the light we bring to our photos, media, and writing. My goal is to inspire every person to share light to someone else after reading my blog.
3) Start a project:
Start a freaking project. Every day, go out and create something that relates and pushes your further towards the two things listed above - your vision, and your goals. Create EVERY SINGLE DAY and put out all the content that you create, even if it sucks, even if you hate it. If you've followed The Daily Blog project from the beginning, you can totally see the progression I've made in terms of creating and putting out content and understanding myself and my vision. Define a set of time you'll create for and then create the same thing in new iterations every day: if your vision is to share love and your goal is to be a better photographer, go out and shoot love stories every day. If your goal is spread kindness and become a better write, document and write about and share stories about people around you in your city or the world spreading kindness. Just go out and make something every freaking day.
2017 is going to be a freaking crazy good year for us, guys. We're going to create more content than ever before. We're going to share our vision and spread light and do so many beautiful things.
My promise to you is that this blog will ALWAYS be here, every day, as a place for inspiration, motivation, and creativity.
Let's go and do amazing things.
What are your 3 things for 2017? Your vision, your goals, and your project? Share with me in the comments below and I'll send my favorite one a FREE Single Sentence e-book. :-)
> Get The Single Sentence, on sale for $5, here: http://www.davidtalley.io/singlesentence-e-book-1/
I'm on a mission to show that the light will always pierce through the darkness.