Recently I watch an episode of Master Chef Australia that featured Chef Marco White. This is Master Chef Australia not US. I have always been amazed at the kind but gentle guidance that the chef Gary Mehigan, chef George Calombaris and food critic Matt Preston give each participants. Often Master Chef Australia has celebrity chefs come to teach and inspire the contestants. This last episode featured Marco Pierre White. I have heard many people compare him to Hell’s Kitchen’s Gordon Ramsay. But there is no comparison, White discovered Ramsay and I would venture to say Ramsay patterned his gruff evil demeanor after White. But white isn’t just mean as Ramsay often appears to me. White is tough and yes, scary at times but at the right time gentle and yes even kind. When asked about this by Colin Vickery of the Courier Mail White said, “Lots of kids come into the industry today because they want to be a star,” White says, “It’s not about being a star. It’s about learning your craft. They may not like my honesty to begin with, but that’s what it’s got to be. It’s got to be tough love.” Oh for a little of that tough love in the photography world. How many people with a camera need to be told the truth, that they suck? How many that are good could be so much better with honest criticism?
But there is more here than tough love. There is that comment about arrogance. I can’t help but wonder that means. Does a healthy dose of arrogance breed success? I think it just probably does. With arrogance come a certain amount of self-assurance. Self-assurance and self-confidence will give other people the confidence that you know what you are doing. Arrogant people are often difficult to work with so we use euphemisms like “artistic temperament” to write off arrogance as something acceptable. But as White points out, success is not the same thing as greatness. With greatness come humility.
Lately I have been reading in my Bible (yes, I am one of those!) Mark 9: 30-40. It is really interesting to see how Jesus taught the exact same thing about greatness. The disciples had been discussing among themselves who was the greatest. Later Jesus asked them what they had been talking about. They all got very quite as if they new they’d been found out and were embarrassed. Jesus knowing what was happening said in his wisdom, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” Then he does a wild and unexpected thing, he draws a child into the circle and says, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.” The point I think he’s making by pulling a child into the conversation is children do not have a voice. They don’t vote, they don’t agitate, they just soak up knowledge and love. This child represented the least of the “all” he had just talked about. Jesus just redefined greatness as humble servitude.
We need more humble photographers willing to be servants; willing to help other photographers grow. Yes, it might mean some tough words. It might even mean shouting at time to be heard over the noise of arrogance. But we need them. This is directed to you if you see your self as a leader or a “professional” photographer. Are you willing to be humble and give of your time and your knowledge to lesser skilled photographers? This is one of the main reasons I started the On Field Media Project. I have always love teaching people to tell stories visually. But what a wonderful privilege it is to teach people who want to help others less fortunate than they are.
I want to encourage you, whether you are a photographer or not to be humble and willing to give of your own time, talents and possibly even money to help others in any way you can. In the US it is approaching the holiday season. It is now that so many people think about being charitable, but don’t think like that. Don’t think that being charitable or by being a servant to someone for a few days is a one-off. Think about helping others year around. It might be something as simple as helping a young photographer understand composition or aperture. Maybe it is helping out organisaitons like Gavin Gough’s SeedLight or my On Field Media Project by giving of your time or finances or simply by sharing their links. Maybe you can help with organizations that we help like The Kilgoris Project. Check your attitude. What do you find there, arrogance leading to success or humility leading to greatness?
Please feel free to download this wallpaper of Chef Marco Pierre White’s quote on greatness.
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