I just came upon an extremely interesting statement on Seth Godins blog. I related to this so strongly when read that I immediately came here to share it. This statement is refereed to as Milton Glaser’s Rule.
There are few illustrators who have a more recognizable look (and a longer productive career) than Milton Glaser. Here’s the thing: When he started out, he wasn’t THE Milton Glaser. He was some guy hoping for work.
The rule, then, is that you can’t give the client what he wants.
You have to give the client work that you want your name on. Work that’s part of the arc. Work that reflects your vision, your contribution and your hand.
That makes it really difficult at first. Almost impossible. But if you ignore this rule because the pressure is on, it will never get easier.
I related this to the last post I wrote; “The Uncommon Journey”. The connection seemed strong to me and was the reason for my immediate response. When I read Milton Glaser’s rule it makes perfect sense. The photographs being made today or at least a good many of them seem to completely ignore this rule. Produced and shared for the single reason of eliciting ooo’s and ahh’s from the viewer that I stated in my previous post. I can attest to the fact that it is not easy to purposefully choose to Not give others what they want. We seemed to be somewhat wired to provide what the client, potential customer, or viewer wants. Or at least what we think they want. Photographers work very hard to meet “others” specific demands. Afterwards what are “you” left” with? If all went well I would assume you would be left with the profits of your efforts. More than likely those would be financial or monetary gains only.
Still to this day I can not think in terms of “what others want”. It may initially sound selfish but in reality I believe it to be less selfish and more self serving, if that makes sense. Many of my thoughts and actions can be directly tied to my introversion. One must understand their own motives to be able to produce personal work. There was a short time, about 6 months to be exact I attempted to go far outside my comfort zone. I agreed to do commissioned work. Taking photographs for the State of Kansas Travel and Tourism. I had a list of dozens of events and locations they were always in need of. I gave it my best shot. It was the worst 6 months of photography I have ever experienced. Not because I did not complete the work. In fact I did and even got paid for it, but I hated it. It was like I didn’t even know how to take a picture. My mind was constantly filled with questions of; “how would they want this, should I shoot this or that over there, do I show more or less of this event, location, whatever the case may be. Honestly I knew after a few weeks of working on this it was not for me, but I stuck to it and completed what I needed to complete.
Photography as with any artistic endeavor is personal. It should be personal. I would even say It must be personal for it to become art. That’s what I take form the Milton Glaser’s Rule. At the end of the day you have to be happy for not only what you have accomplished but for the reason to strive to accomplish it. When I approach photography from that mind set, it is one of the greatest pleasures I have ever experienced.