NO I DON'T: Getting Things Done By Not Doing What Doesn't

By tangentpath in photography business work wisdom

Hey Peeps,

I hate wasting time.  You do too.  

I won't even ask - it's pretty much a given.

If you're going to say,"Hey Mike, I love wasting time."  Well you're an idiot and we should devour your lifeforce to distribute amongst the rest of us.

Moving away from the darkside now.

I know you find that when working on something important, work, play, crosswords, nuclear reactor in your basement, etc, other things tend to come up.

Distractions and interruptions.

Your spouse, kids, favorite TV show, best friend, mother, in-laws, siblings, boss, employees - I could do this all day.

But what about the least obvious and yet most insidious things of all?

The thing you are trying to work on.

I'm as serious as a heart attack here, but let me state that this is mostly found during work.

We all try to get as much going on as we can being business owners - and if you are an independently, starving photographer, well you are a business owner believe it or not.

This overwhelms and most times burns us out.

Which sucks.

If we are done in, we can't work.  Which is what this is all about right?

So what should you not do?

Let's answer that with a story:

I had a call from my mother yesterday to donate something in a silent auction for a community group she is a part of.

She wanted a few photos, but what does that get me?  Nothing.  No new clients, no income, nada.

Someone would bid and win the images and put them somewhere on a wall or in a basement or give them as gifts to someone else who would put them on a wall or in a basement, etc, etc, etc

So I decided to give away a portrait sitting instead.

This gives the winning bidder incentive to come into my studio, meet me, discus photo options, print sales, CD/DVD purchases, creating a walking, talking billboard telling their friends about my business while still making me money.

Good idea right?

When I started to explain some of the in's-and-out's of connecting and product ordering with her, she found some things restrictive to more elderly and/or less web educated clients,"You have to cater to everybody right?"

My flat out response,"No, I don't."

That's the thing, I don't want to cater to everyone.

I don't want to treat every person like they are my ideal client.

I want to treat my ideal client as my ideal client.

I don't - and you don't - need to make everyone on the planet a paying client.  That would be insane.  But if you focus on your ideal client, and what they are about, you can make all of your clients your ideal client.

So no, I will not have a million ways of contacting me(email, phone, carrier pigeon, locomotive, etc), instead I have the ones that serve me and my ideal clients.  

Just like I will not have a million different products to sell my clients - how could you keep them all in your head and still come across with the confidence of knowing what you are talking about?

I find my ideal client, I learn what they are about - everything.  I cater to that.  Everything else that I do is for  my own creative expression.  

And everything after that is garbage.

I won't do it.

It is a waste of time, energy and happiness that could better be used on things that matter.

What do you do "for" your business that is actually taking away from your forward motion?

Tell me and I will let my favorite story-teller guest post on this blog!


Michael Carty

Michael Carty Email

You Peaked In High School

By tangentpath in photography business work peak vision push struggle succeed

Hey Peeps,

You've probably heard this phrase before.  On TV, in the movies or maybe in real live either being said(hopefully not to you) or saying it yourself to someone else.

The thing is a lot of people "peak" in high school, or college or in their first few years in the working world.  The problem is that they tend to sink into this depressing and utterly black void of mediocrity and complacency from which they usually never return.

They complain about their current situations; the boss on their back; the screaming kids; the complaining spouse; the home that has a million things that need getting done but there's never any time - you know, life.

I'm not going to tell you how to time manage your household chores.

Or how to better kiss your bosses ass.

Or how to muzzle your children.

Or even how to appease your spouse(you SHOULD know how to do most of these things).

I'm going to tell you that like most things in life there are peaks and troughs.  Unbeknownst to most, the power to control this wave ride is mostly up to you.  The key is to try and strive to peak at least once a day.

Let me tell you, I have had my share of troughs - years of them.  

There was a good chance I wouldn't have came back from them either.

But through a slow and steady progression I fight my way back(yes I am still fighting) to my "peak-i-ness"(trademarked), in work, at home and within myself.

No matter what shit happens in your day, you always have the ability to peak again and again.  I peak in my work after a great shoot with the fantastic images I capture.  I peak with my son when I take a break to play outside on our lawn.  I peak in my marriage when I drop the little guy off with grandma and take my wife on a shopping trip.

Sure these don't sound like the peaks that I had in high school.

But I'm not in high school anymore.  Are you?

The difference is that my peaks are higher than I ever could have imagined and they will last me a lifetime of memories.

So fuck peaking in high school - that's for losers, posers, haters and assholes.


Put that in your mantra and say it.

What do you do to peak?  Have you peaked today?  What are your future peaks?


Michael Carty

Email Me

Nose To The Grindstone vs. Leaving It The F@#$ Alone

By tangentpath in photography business work vision wisdom live quit spend time

Hey Peeps,

I have a feeling that this may be a little controversial to discuss, but I have experienced it firsthand and find it incredibly fascinating, and first needs to be illustrated by a story from my past.

Years ago, in my misspent early 20's, I actually tried to grow a houseplant.  Buy a pot, soil, some Miracle-Gro, simple right?


I planted six different seeds, kept it watered and by the window, but the soil stayed as barren as a models bikini line.

So being a guy, I instantly forgot about the pot and soil - therefore, I left it sitting by the windowsill to collect dust.

Sometime, in the next few weeks, a few friends and I decided that it was the perfect night for tequila shots with salt/lemon slices(when isn't it?).  The rest of the evening resides in obscured memory and blackmailing photos that will be automatically released to the media at the time of my death.

That's a joke.

Or is it?  You'll see when I croak.

Anywho, a few days later, something the color of vibrant green caught my eye from the windowsill.  

It was a plant sprouting from my pot!!  Finally!  I was growing a houseplant!

But wait, what's that at the base of the sapling? 

Two halves of a lemon seed shell.


Do you get it?

One of our tequila lemon seeds was spit serendipitously(did I just create this word?) into the potted soil.  Left alone, it sprouted by itself.

NO tending.  NO watering.  NO ME.

:(  I am Michael's popped bubble of self-gratification.

That's where the lesson began - but let me be clear:

I truly believe that effort is needed to get things done. 

At least a little.

But there comes a time to back the "f" up and let the situation work itself out - there is only so much you can do before you start to bring harm to your project.

So with the plant growing, I suck.

I know the logistics:  soil, water, sun - but that's where I should stop.  

Me personally.  

Other people can go further than I.  I think they're called farmers, gardeners, botanists, etc.

I am not one of them.

The same works in everything you do.  

Work yourself to death at your passions, but in the end you will find yourself spinning your wheels and then - the horror of it! - starting to wonder why you loved your passion in the first place!  OR - the humanity!! - start to hate your passion!!


Step back.  Know when to stop, for you, personally.

I've had those moments myself.

Late nights, editing image after image until they all start to blend together in my coffee-fueled, sleep-deprived stupor.

I don't want to die that way.

I don't want to hate my passion, my work, my life.

I step back.

I still have to remind myself of this.  The traditional order of things is that the effort put in equals the effort coming out, but that is irrelevant now in our world - actually I believe it was never relevant in the first place.  

It's not the amount of effort - but the quality of effort.

Work smarter - not harder.

I sometimes sit day after day in front of my laptop, corresponding to clients, writing blog posts, brainstorming projects, talking to affiliates, cataloging data from my mileage to my HST.  

I FEEL like I'm wasting time, and in a way I am(plans are in work to change this).

I WORRY that I won't get work, clients don't just drop out of the sky right?

But if I leave my laptop for an afternoon, for some reason when I return to it I have at least one message from a lead, past client or product order.  

Maybe it's the perspective, maybe being plugged in skews the incoming traffic because it isn't constant, but whatever it is, it feels better when I step back.  When I spend time away from the grindstone and LIVE for a few hours.  When I come back with rested eyes and settled mind.

So that's my message to you:  Work hard at your passions - until it starts to feel like your working hard.  Then back off for a bit.

If your passion feels like work, you're doing too much.

Am I full of shit?  Tell me where I've gone wrong BRAINIAC!!


Michael Carty

Michael Carty Photography Email

Your Art And Your Health

By tangentpath in health photography work fitness personal vision

Now I'm not sure if this is something that a lot of people in the business talk about, but I have noticed - from a handful of photographers at least - that exercise or at least keeping an active lifestyle can mean the world to them.

There are a few reasons for this, the obvious being that you are healthier, you have more energy, positivity and - believe it or not - creativity.  I personally try to stay as active as I can, not only is it good for me but I actually like keeping busy.  I do occasionally hit those walls, days that I just don't feel like doing anything, but the least that I can do is run.  Running is freedom, easy and challenging, requires no equipment(unless you count running shoes), can be done with others or alone, is meditative and is self-competitive.  When I say self-competitive, what I mean is that you can completely compete with yourself, with what you've ran before, for time, distance, whatever.

Now what the hell does this have to do with photography or any other type of art?  Well, let's think about this for a second.  I'm healthier and happier, which are definately big pluses when dealing with clients, models, assistants and people in general.  What about your family?  Do you have children?  Do you find that if you are happy at home you will be happier at work - and vice verca?  Say you are an action photographer, would it be easier to hike up a mountainside or through brush if you were fit instead of flab?  The answer is a big, emphatic YES.

Also, leading neurobiologists agree that the added bloodflow from cardio exercise, in addition to specific chemicals released(and others whose levels are decreased) increases brain function, which can help us be more productive, less prone to mistakes which saves time, and allows us as artists to better create images of higher quality.

Let's face it, we spend hours behind the lens of our cameras, or putting make-up and doing hair for models, or even sitting getting these things done as models.  We also spend hours reading up on the latest technologies, techniques, styles, etc etc etc.  Photographers(unless they hire photowizards) also spend hours on their computers, transferring files, backing them up, processing and posting images.  We all also spend hours updating, texting, messaging, emailing, networking, posting, blogging, tweeting and a thousand other things in front of a computer screen.  So if we spend so much time on all of these things, I would say that setting aside some time for our health is crucial not only to ourselves and our well being, but our business, its growth, and our families and our futures with them.

I want to know what you do to keep active.  Do you run?  Lift?  Greeko-Roman wrestling?  Do you do nothing and disagree with my opinion?  I WANT TO HEAR IT!!

Last week I promised images, well I do have images, but you will have to check them out on the link below:

This is my new(and favourite) website, I love it, it rocks, it is so easy to control and change.  I hope you like it and send me a message sometime to tell me what you think of it or if you would like to work together.

Later players

Why The Hell Did It Take So Long to Write This Blog? And Inspiration.

By tangentpath in photography work vision diligence inspiration

That's the first thing that I thought of when I sat down to write this.  So why the hell did it take so long for me to write this blog?  Short answer: Life.

Long answer:  I hope you're sitting down because this answer will be half of this blog.

I don't have to explain how life gets in the way of your goals sometimes.  You want to exercise in the evening, but you had a long day at work.  You want to eat better, but you have no time to cook.  Etc, etc, etc...

The important thing is not to get discouraged when these things happen.  Life happens, as they say(whoever they are), and instead of beating yourself up for what you're not doing, you should plan on when you will do them.

See that?  Well no you wouldn't, but after I finished that last paragraph, I was distracted by an episode of Doctor Who on television and then I switched over to The Biggest Loser.  But thank the gods for the 'mute' button, or I would probably still be staring at the tv with a stunned look on my face and not continuing this blog.  That's life too though, the unexpected, the path that's tangent from our plans, and when these things occur we should take it as it is; life happens.

So that's the 'why' to the question, but what was the 'what'(I understand there was no 'what', but I'm doing it anyways)?

This week(like most) has been a little hectic and stressful.  I'm scheduling and rescheduling shoots, work is busy and stressful, I'm still planning out my trip to Ottawa and trying to create a more minimilistic home and lifestyle before our baby gets here(I know it's 7 months away, but it's 7 months away!!)  I could've just passed this weeks blog, but I really am committed to it, to you, and to my life and how I wish to live it.  The good thing is is that this is not something that will be normally happening.  I will not have week after week of late blogs.  You see, the later a blog gets written - the less time I have before I have to write the next blog.  So it's designed to be in my best interest to keep it on schedule.

That's the first part of this blog.  The next?  Inspiration(which was the original blog topic).

First I'd like to thank Fallen "Kittie" Matthews( for giving me this topic, she is a talented model from the Halifax area.  Great idea Fallen, thx again.

So inspiration, where does it come from?  Where do you get it?  Can you get it on command?  Anyone would love to know the secret to finding the muse, whether you're a designer, writer, photographer, painter, etc.  The funny thing is is that like most questions like this, the answers that we look everywhere for are within us.  So what inspires you?  Looking at artwork?  Listening to music?  How about something that has nothing to do with what you want to accomplish?  A 5 or 10km run, playing with your kids or even having a nap.  I've done all of these things(well not playing with my kids, but I am working on it) and gained not only inspiration but concrete ideas and concepts that fill me full of ambitious energy and excitement.  Personally, I would choose anything that I love to do(besides photography), that enjoyment bleeds into my work and somehow helps my creativity. 

My best advice, in case none of these things interest you, is to keep special attention to when you are inspired or suddenly get that instant stroke of genius.  What were you doing?  Maybe there are a few things that you do when the muse visits you.  Remember what you were doing at the time for when you get a block again or even just to get your mind in the right zone for creativity.

Most people that I have talked to say that music is a huge influence on their creativity, and I totally agree.  Music can influence emotion and this will access memories, which in turn will enhance the emotions that we feel.  Depending on the type of music, I could sit and let my mind dance to the tune, my imagination creating images of scenes that could be heartbreaking, terrifying or joyous.

So what inspires you?  Any of these things or something else?  Let me know, and try not to let life get in the way of living.  I'm going to get some images here in the next one, so no worries.

Now back to Biggest Loser...