[by Charles Gupton]
The morning that two planes hit the towers of the World Trade Center, a traumatic wake-up call rang around the world.
But a few months earlier, a call had come to me that had an even greater impact on our immediate lives. In that call, I lost – for most of the following decade – my financial stability, my career, and most critically, my identity.
For more than 20 years, I’d been a working photographer. By focusing on a mix of client and self-assigned projects, I’d built up a strong body of stock photographs that had allowed me to focus exclusively on producing stock images. Because of the consolidation of the major stock agencies, I had relented and signed a contract giving one agency the rights to be the exclusive seller of my images.
When the fateful call notified me that the founder and owner of the agency had sold his company to Corbis, the direction of our lives shifted immediately. I was still a photographer, but my foundation had shifted. Combined with the economic fallout of 9/11, we realized that we had to make adjustments that no longer put so much of our sustenance in the hands of one person again. Even though I was self-employed, all of my eggs had been in one entity’s proverbial basket.
Numerous writers, including Seth Godin, James Altucher, Jonathan Fields, and Pam Slim, have logged the benefits – especially in the face of uncertainty – of choosing yourself, your vision, and the way you want to pursue it, over waiting to have your work chosen. I’ve lived the past dozen years as my own case study of the importance of not waiting, of choosing new paths, and stretching beyond my own belief.
The growth has not only opened my mind to boundless possibilities. It has opened my heart to understanding and compassion for so many others who’ve felt their rock of stability and identity crumble.
The fruit of change may seem sour at first. But through the open eyes of possibility, the fruit can change to something beautiful and sweet.
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