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Heat waves shimmered in the distance as we trudged up the side of a red sand dune in Namibia. Boyckey plodded along next to me in silence. It was hotter than usual—even for a Namibian.

“What is it with tattoos?” he blurted out, gesturing to a European guy covered in designs. “Why do Americans and Europeans get so many? What does it mean?”

Looking at it from his perspective, I can see why it seems strange.  They mean different things to different people, I guess.

Next, he pointed to my camera. “To be a photographer in America, do you have to have certifications?”

“Not really,” I told him. “In the U.S., to be a photographer, all you have to do is show that you can take good photos. And it helps if you have good communication skills.”

It’s THANKFULNESS, DAY 2: And today I’m thankful for a set of skills that allow me to work from anywhere, travel the world, be creative, and make an income doing things I love.

You can have these skills, too, if you take the time to build them.  Good photos and good writing don’t come from a click of the shutter or ramblings on a page.  They come from practice and good editing.

Once you understand that it’s not an overnight transformation (and you don’t have to create perfect images to sell them), it makes it easier to start.  

You decide you want to start today and then you go out and take pictures or go out and search for a story.  You return home with your imperfect photos and your imperfect ramblings on paper and then you edit.  Build.  Grow.  Improve.  

It’s simple really when you put one baby step on top of the other.  You get better at composition first.  Then light and exposure.  Then editing and the technical aspects of working your camera.  Then telling a story.

Different roads lead to different paths and you improve along the way.

To be a photographer, you need to start with a single baby step forward...

Three weeks ago, I was running a photo workshop in France. Two days ago, I was taking photos and writing articles from Namibia:

I’ll spend Thanksgiving in Southern California and the month of January in Buenos Aires.

None of this would be possible if I hadn’t honed my writing and photography skills and put those baby steps behind me instead of in front. It’s the life I’ve always wanted and I’m immensely thankful to be able to live it.

So what can you do today to put a baby step behind you instead of out front?

Register for a workshop?  Get that out of the way.

Take your camera out and take some photos?

Learn Lightroom and how to edit your images?

Plan a trip?

Go out in search of a story?

Join a group and get motivation and accountability from others?

Baby step on top of baby step is how we get everywhere, even Namibia.

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