Who Do You Work For? The Battle Inside Us

I remember an interview with photographer Gregory Heisler in which he said, “Work as hard for yourself as you work for someone else.” I’ve always applied that work ethic to my business. The old adage of hard work pays off in the end.

In the past six months, something fundamental has shifted in our society. A shift that has turned photography upside down in such a fundamental way that things may never again be the same. Whether this is good or bad has yet to be determined. Only time will tell.

What I do know is that I’m working harder than ever for less money. Technology allows us to work from virtually anywhere, always in touch with each other, our work and the world. But is this a good thing? I recently enjoyed a wonderful conversation with Austin, Texas photographer Kirk Tuck. He shared with me an article he wrote about this very topic. “Working 24/7 and Slowly Going Insane? Join the Club? No Thanks!”

In the midst of all this change, it’s good to pause and reflect on who we’re really working for. A chance to determine what matters most to us. What do we want to do with our lives? What are we putting out into the world with our actions, our choices? Kirk shared a story that I feel is poignant and thoughtful.

One evening a Cherokee elder told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.

He said, “My son, the battle is between the two ‘wolves’ that live inside us all.

One is Unhappiness or Evil — It is anger, jealousy, fear, regret, greed, arrogance, sorrow, self-pity, resentment, inferiority, false pride, superiority, weakness and ego.

The other is Happiness or Good — It is joy, love, hope, serenity, benevolence, peace, empathy, kindness, generosity, truth, humility, faith, strength and compassion.”

The grandson thought about it for a while and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf wins?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.” — Cherokee Elder

So tell me. Who do YOU work for?

Randy Kepple Photographs Portrait of Jazz Singer Lincoln Briney

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. I enjoyed this post, Randy! It brought back memories of a Hyrum Smith book that I read years ago and his discussions about one’s Belief Window and how people act based on what is on their Belief Window.

    To me it makes sense then, why people, who deep down inside value having more time with their family/loved ones, can nevertheless fall into the trap of working 24/7 and have the exact opposite happen to them. That is, they spend less time with their family and see their relationships crumble. They fall into the trap because they fear that ‘being themselves’ in the corporate world or in running their businesses as being detrimental to their career/business. For example, how many times are we told in the corporate world that only the strong survive”?

    So even if we know instinctively that it’s okay to be imperfect – to be human – we have to suppress that instinct and put on this facade when we are in work mode to appear strong, appear fearless, appear confident, appear tireless, when the truth is that we can’t be that way all of the time. But we try to play the game because that is what we are led to believe gets rewarded. And so for some of us, our core values become buried and ignored. I also maintain a non-photog blog http://true-master.com where I post my reflections on stuff like this from time to time.

    Have a peek if you’re interested, and if you agree or disagree, I enjoy receiving comments. It’s great to open up a dialogue when it means I can learn something new or appreciate a different perspective.

  2. Joel… a LIFE well lived, is an idea worth spreading! Success in this life is NOT about who dies with the most money. It’s about living your life. Sharing your life with those who care about you and being passionate about what you choose to do with your life.

    The TED video on your True Master site is wonderful and dovetails my post perfectly. Thank you for sharing!

    I’m interested in hearing more about the book you referenced. Which Hyrum Smith book did you read?

    Thanks for joining in the conversation!

  3. Good story – cannot be more in agreement. Almost instant rewards to those who change their feeding habits.

  4. Agree with the article… I would just add that its an art to be able to work for others and not expect anything in return. As a photographer, once the client is done bargaining with me and has finally signed me… my goal is to work for them with all-out dedication and not expect any Kudos or additional financial incentive. In doing so I believe I’m able to give my best and that helps with the business.

  5. Gursimran… Thank you for the kind words and for contributing to the discussion. Welcome to the blog, I hope you continue to enjoy your time here! 🙂

    Your cultural wedding photos are beautiful! So much color and tradition.

    Regarding your comment “it’s an art to be able to work for others and not expect anything in return”… could you clarify that? To me, it seems you are saying that working for free is an art. Surely that can’t be what you are saying?

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