Nov 11, 2011

The Only Way to Succeed as a Photographer.

One day you will want to quit photography. It is not your fault, it may be hard to see coming, but eventually you won’t care. I am here to prevent that from happening to you.

Photography is a lot like any other art or passion. In the beginning we get into it because we think it is fun. That flirting turns into love. If we are not careful it will turn into hate.

Somewhere we are realize that in order to get better at something we care about, we have to devote so much time and energy into it that it can consume your life. The constant need to push yourself to outdo yourself. The desire to please others. It becomes very easy here to lose sight of why we stared this in the first place.

By working with an end goal of just being “BETTER”, we doom ourselves to failure without knowing it. Basically we are starting a road trip without a destination. If the journey is the goal, you will succeed. If the end is the goal, you will fail trying to find it.


Make sure to become part of the Phlearn Family on Facebook, conversate with us on Twitter, and #hashtag your Phlearn inspirations on Instagram. We want to know what the Phlearn community social chatter is about, and who is sharing it. You all keep us motivated to do our best.


(will not be published)

  • Jay de Vries

    Thank you. “Better is the Journey, not the destination.”
    This is dated 11.11.11; it was meant for me today 03.30.15 sitting at “step 6″. Everything you said, every word, is exactly how i’m feeling. I deleted my FB and my IG and closed my studio because, I didn’t know what to do to get to the “other side”. I love photography, thank you.

    • Jay de Vries

      Wow, just read the other comments. And here I thought it was just me. 4 years later and the video is still perfectly on time.

  • user image

    Just dropping you a note to say that it’s people like you who open doors for people like me to a wider world of creativity through tool knowledge and great general advise. Thank you very much for sharing yo stuff!

  • Michael Petersen

    That was the weirdest video ever, and also one of the most enjoyable. Thank you so much for this, Aaron, just what I needed. Everything you said is so true, and I can totally relate to it, and I so needed to hear this right now. I’m good enough at PS (thanks to Phlearn :), but I need to get out and shoot more, practise, and learn from my mistakes, not be afraid to make them. A big ‘thank you’ for being so awesome and sharing this with us.

  • Andrew Segreti

    Aaron, I am at stage 6. I have had the same journey you have describled, and agree with everything you had to say. It was so nice to hear it from another person. However, I am feeling very frustrated and lost on how to take the next steps.

  • Ranjoharbri

    So glad you have a shout out to David Hobby and his Strobist site. I learned nearly everything I know about using flash from his blog. The guy’s worked so hard to help other starting out in photography and I find myself returning time and time again to his assignment pages. Loving PHLearn Aaron, you’ve taught me so much about Photoshop. Thanks big man.

  • Brandon

    After this video, you really got my attention. Talk about connecting with your audience..

  • JamieRae

    First video I have watched of yours.  I don’t know if you meant to be funny but I laughed a few times and learned about enjoying the journey as well.  I’m sure Frodo would enjoy this vid too.  Thanks!

  • Jenna Petrone

    Everything you said in this video is totally true, I feel like a lot of photographers go through these stages.  Quick question, when did you get started in photography?  My interest sparked while I was a senior in high school but I didn’t actually go out there and try it myself until college.  I feel as if I’m a late bloomer in that sense but I also feel like it’s making me push myself harder to improve a lot more along my journey. 

  • MK

    Hi again Aaron,
    Best video in a long time, enjoyed every minute of it…. life is more than simply technical thinking, we need some “brains outside the box” as well…. and you got it nailed here.

  • Umberto Fistarol

    this is a great advice Aaron, for life and not only for photography. hugs

  • tk

    I get this. The solution: Disappear from Flickr, 500px, etc, and stop using PS. Ok, bad joke.  But I thank you, Mr. Nace, for being awesome and generous to share that awesomeness with us stage 6s.

  • Patrick Brady

    I am at step 6! I havent been happy at all with my photos and really havent had time to get out and shoot as much as I want. I dont know how to fix the problems Im having. You see guy’s like Jordan Voth, Anthony Anderson, Drewshoots, Jodan Donnally’s photos on Flickr and people ask them what they do to edit and they say CURVES! All they really do is mess with the curves and their photos look incredible. I really want to take Aaron’s classes to learn how to edit and everything he offers but money does not allow and time is really tight. There are times where I have thought about packing away the camera, but its so tough to do so!

  • K?rlis Briedis

    THIS IS GOLD~!!!!  And so perferct timing for me ….. 
    Just sold my nikon and bought canon…. started to mess around videos and less around photography…
    still think my photos suck and i really can’t understand why..
    but the main and the badest thing i guess is that i am not enjoying photography as i used to before …..
    and it pises me of :( 
    Need to change that, and i’m thinking this helpped A LOT!
    Thank you Aaron!


  • K?rlis Briedis

    THIS IS GOLD~!!!!  And so perferct timing for me ….. 
    Just sold my nikon and bought canon…. started to mess around videos and less around photography…
    still think my photos suck and i really can’t understand why..
    but the main and the badest thing i guess is that i am not enjoying photography as i used to before …..
    and it pises me of :( 
    Need to change that, and i’m thinking this helpped A LOT!
    Thank you Aaron!


  • Andrea Peipe

    I love what you are telling us here. Esp. the “when you believe that are awesome you are not gonna get better”. That is exactly how it is! Very wise words today Aaron!

    Sometimes I hate it so much when I cannot achieve something! The last few days I had these awesome concepts in my head and I have NO idea how to bring them to life… Photography makes me really happy but when something does not work out I get furious ;)

  • Sebastian Ekman

    Thank you Aaron! This was the kind of kick in the butt that I needed right now. 
    I’m shooting, I’m getting better, I have a good camera, I have a few lights, I don’t suck at photoshop… I love photography but for a while now I’ve been looking for a job without any good results and with that frustration inside it’s been hard to bring the passion to the photography. 
    All of my friends think that I’m an awesome photographer but I, for myself, don’t really know where I’m aiming.
    Well, I’m gonna talk to a couple of people that I trust for some advice and then just make it work. If I don’t find a normal job here in Sweden – why not go all in to photography? The worst thing that can happend isn’t much worse than my situation right now

  • andreasini

    Hey Aaron….I like very much your video! it make me feel exiting amd it make me want to grow up in my knowlledge

  • Nicole

    Hey Aaron, whenever I go to Archives and click on a month it goes to the home page!

  • Anonymous

    I think I’m progressing a lot with my photography and my 365 project. I am now considering to quit my extra 2 years of high school (I’m doing it for 2 months now and all my subjects are F, only arts is a B) and working my ass off to become a photographer. It is really hard to decide if I want to go study something, economy or arts. I think I can do it on myself, but step 6 is what terrifies me the most. 

  • Yo MAMA

    I didn’t know you got a PhD in Philosophy in your spare time.  Great episode, Aaron!

  • Lennart

    Kind of off-topic here but on my journey I would love to see your older episodes. Somehow though, since today, the episodes by month index doesn’t work anymore. I get linked back to the frontpage. Maybe you’re already on top of this but I thought I’d just mention it in case you’re not aware of it yet. 
    Thanks for all of your great work! It actually, really helps me on my journey to mount doom. 
    Kind regards.

  • Milla K

    I was kind of scared of where this was going, but then it turned out I already know this. 
    I immediately thought about horseback riding (my other dear hobby); you can never be perfect at it. You can be an olympic champion and still have things to work on and get better at. I’m nowhere near to the Olympic champs, but I feel proud when I learn something, anything, even the smallest thing like getting a horse to stop without doing anything big. While being happy for that, I’m still aware that there are a gazillion things left to learn. And there always will be. Everything in life is like this. There is no perfection, and the only real goal you can have is to live and one day die, hopefully as a happy person. 

  • Jenny Su

    Aaron, I would like to know when you are combining two pictures together, what are the tips to make the edges look clear but natural? (such as adding a zibra in your photo)

  • Anan Adnan

    wow that was so cool man i totally know what you are taking about thanks a lot to share this with us that is so helpful to know that every one goes in that journey 

  • Cesar V

    Photography is an art form, and as such, there is no final destination. Art is not finite. Art=photography=form of expression=creativity=infinite combinations of color, message, object, place, etc.

  • pixelie

    i’m only a few seconds into this video and the very first thing you said is already very encouraging. i just shamefully ended a self-portrait with “i give up!”…

  • Anthony Phung

    I am not at 6 yet, maybe 4 or 5. I still need to learn to better lighting, better photoshop-ing, but level 6 is starting to get me. I don’t want to stop photography. I heard something about artistic block or something like this. I know I have slowed down a lot for almost 2 months now. Did it happen to you or anyone here? And what have you done to overcome it?

    • Milla K

      I have those blocks every few months or so. I’ve had them since I was younger and writing songs, drawing, whatever ‘artistic’. And now I have them with my photography. I don’t like to force myself out of them, but I just wait till I get some ideas and motivation again. That’s the good part about this being only a hobby. I get to take the journey in my own speed.

      • Anonymous

        I also get them but mainly because I tend to over think things which really doesn’t help matters. I just need to learn to not take things too seriously and just have fun discovering and learning new things!

  • Chris Stewart

    I’ve recently begun to feel that I’m at step 6, where everyone that loves me tells me how good my work is, but I still think it stinks really bad. Your message was really good to hear:P Thank you for posting this, I will carry on!