I find that many creative (and not so creative) people confuse the meaning of the two words – vision and trends. When someone has a vision, they see past the status quo, whereas by the time something becomes a trend – it is status quo. Seems clear to me, and yet for the most part, the common perception of what a trend is – hot, successful, youthful, revolutionary – really isn’t visionary at all, because by the time it becomes a trend – everyone is doing it.
Case in point. Four years ago, when I joined the board of ASMP, some may have seen me as a visionary because of my early foray into video. Four years later, it seems like everybody is doing video. Does that make me a visionary? Perhaps. But I need to make a very important point here, and that is when I started shooting video almost 15 years ago, it was not because I had a vision, that the future of photography would be video. It was because I saw myself then – and still do – as a storyteller and one who delivers the visual message, with whatever creative tools do it best.
I get super frustrated with people who define me by the type of camera (tool) I choose to use. Anyone who has heard me speak, knows my mantra is “it’s not about the tool”. So for anyone to narrowly define me by this one particular medium – video – instead of understanding that I foresee the “future of photography” in the broadest sense of the word “photography”, – are only seeing me through their own “narrow” lens.
I’ve spent a lifetime, trying not to pigeonhole myself into one genre or medium and to stay true to myself and what my instincts are telling me, rather than to jump on the latest trend. I can tell you this – by the time something is trendy – there’s nothing gutsy or visionary about jumping on that bandwagon.
Being visionary is:
- Taking a risk based on instincts instead of emulating the latest trend.
- Being concerned about the substance of something – not just the packaging and the veneer. Thinking that way will make you outlive any trend.
- Being afraid, yet still being brave enough to act on what your inner voice is telling you.
- Managing to be bold enough to come forward with an idea that is not the popular opinion du jour.
- Not getting in your own way by seeing yourself through only one narrow lens – In the early 1900’s, when the automobile hit the scene, the folks in the horse and buggy business who saw themselves in the transportation business survived – the ones who saw themselves as in the horse and buggy business………well we know what happened to them.
I won’t get into politics here, except to say that sadly these days, so many of our world “leaders” are not visionaries and we desperately need leaders who are. But that takes courage and going against the status quo. It’s far easier to follow others, after they have paved the way. That’s not only a lack of vision – that’s bad leadership.