Blog: You are the Investment

When starting out in your creative career you will find that you need equipment, lots of it. At first its hard to put your hard working money into something that you aren’t even sure about. You may look to professionals and feel so far away from their level.

When I first started out in photography, I didn’t believe in myself. It took me forever to finally buy a $800 dollar Rebel Canon. The price tag seemed like a million dollars. I remember going in to the store and realizing, if I didn’t buy this camera, I would never get better at my craft.

That winter I traveled to Australia. I was so excited to finally use my camera. The last night I was in Sydney, I left my belongings in a friends car, including my camera. The next morning, everything was gone. Stolen. My heart sank knowing all my photos of the trip were gone.

I returned home and didn’t take another photo for months. I figured my dream to be a photographer was dead.

I was allowing money to control my creative passion.

My dad found an old film SLR film camera at the local Goodwill. This time the camera was $100. The amount seemed a lot but I missed taking photos.

Even though film is limited, buying that camera was the best thing I ever did for my art. It helped me learn what I needed to be a photographer. I began sharing my photos with my friends on Facebook. To my surprise, friends and family wanted to hire me.

Every weekend I was booked with a shoot. It seemed too good to be true, doing what I love and getting paid for it. My film camera soon stopped working. It was time to buy a new camera. I wasn’t going to let money stand in the way of what I love. I wanted to get the new 7D, the question wasn’t, “Is it worth it?” but, “Was I worth it?” I placed a bid on eBay, leaving my destiny in to their hands.

I won. When I received the packed, I didn’t feel worthy. It was overwhelming. But I overcame those feelings, I knew I was worth the investment.

This battle never finishes as a creative professional. There is always new equipment to purchases. The key is being wise on what you spend money on, and if you really need it.

Every side job I get from photography I put that money in to a “creative fund”. I then use my creative money to buy the next item I need. Beware, if you are looking to buy something expensive, make sure you will use it. If looking for a lens, buy what you would use most. Test out lens and see what you like. I bought a few cheap ones that now I wish I would have saved up for what I needed.

If editing is your passion, save up for the software. Painting, save up for paint brushes. Don’t let the money stop you from growing and learning.
While you wait to save your money up, you can do the next best thing: read books about your craft. This is probably the best type of investment. Reading books about storytelling, photography, poems and so forth will enhance your creativity. I’ve read some amazing books over the past few years and posted blogs about them. Do a search on my blog for “books”.

How do you invest in your talent?

Bobby Roth Directing Seminar

A few weeks ago my sister called and told me about a famous director who’d worked on projects like Prison Break & Lost teaching a class in LA. He plan to talk about working in the tv industry, how he got there, working with actors, and how to direct. I knew this class would teach me what I have lacked. I’ve directed for years on projects but never felt good at it. This class was my opportunity to finally learn from a professional.  I got really excited at the thought of learning from someone who has worked on projects that I enjoyed. A list of questions began to develop inside my head.

Since I do photography professionally, I now have this “creative fund.” It’s extra money that goes to anything that is creative. I knew to get better at my craft,  I have to invest in it.

I took twelve pages of notes. He told us that being a good director is a growth process. One of the major themes during the class was about preparation and doing the homework. He said some thought he was silly when he would have detailed shot list, even to which lens he would use but for him, being prepared made him able to direct better. He did all the thought process before hand so that on the day of shooting, he knew exactly what he needed to capture.  A lot of what he said made perfect sense.

-Have a clear vision ahead of time.

-See it though the lens, every shot.

-Don’t do too many of the same shots, it will wear the actor down.

-Be the leader and a guest when directing on another’s project.

-Use different lens as part of the storytelling process.

-Keep the day of shooting moving forward, don’t allow time to be wasted.

-Casting is key. Don’t base your choice on looks or popularity.

-Look for ways to be re-inspired.

-Don’t miss up confidences, use your own judgment.

-Tie yourself to material that is great.

-Be ready when you get “your chance.”

(Current economics) -There is no longer a safe job, everything is in danger.

-Not just for the sake of it but to tell the story a better way.

-Be comfortable in telling others what to do.

-Find what is best about you and work with that.

So much of the dialog was about his experiences and what he learned from them. At the end of the class we got in to a discussion about the lack of female directors. I really liked what one of the students said, “All of us have our, ‘Oh my God, I’m this.'” I sat there and listened to the discussion and knew what my, “Oh my God, I’m this” is. It’s not the fact that I’m a girl, a mexican, from a low-income area but its.. I’m a Christian. I’m not just a Christian but I’m a seeker of Christ. I live it everyday. I’ve been dumped because I was one, I’ve been dumped by a Christian boy because I was a real one. haha. I’ve had to pass up opportunities on projects because it compromise my morals. Not to say I’ll be uptight about everything, I just know there are some scenes I wouldn’t feel comfortable being apart of.

God has always been faithful and brought better and bigger opportunities for me. We all have our mountains to climb but I know that God will be with me through the journey. “Find what is best about you and work with that.” -My heart for God. My passion and devotion to Him. He’s the Creator who is my inspiration. I don’t know if I will ever be a professional director, but I have a feeling I will be and I have to be prepared for it. One thing Bobby said that ended the class was, “It’s not impossible but it may be hard. Focus on the work, have strength, patience and be professional.”

Update: This morning I had two filmings that I needed to do. I did my homework last night, tested all my gear, packed everything, wrote my thoughts and questions down and got a good nights rest. Today I had the smoothest filming experience of my life. I’m really excited to put these tips in to practice. I’m glad I took the class.

Look for ways to invest in your craft.

Bobby Roth, professional television director and independent film maker.