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Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I get asked the question of where I see myself in 5 or 10 years pretty frequently. Usually it is while teaching photography somewhere; people want to know what is coming next. More importantly, they want to know what I’m dreaming up, what I can envision coming next. To think about my life ten years from now is no different from thinking about what my life will be like a year from now, or even tomorrow. My answer, in a group situation, is often that I want to be exhibiting in galleries internationally, or that I want to take my workshops on a tour, and especially that I’d like to have at least one book out for sale. However, I can just as easily sum all of that up into one word: HAPPINESS.

All I want is to be happy, and knowing what makes me happy creates building blocks to getting there. I noticed a problem the last time I answered that question, which was about 5 days ago. I gave my usual answer of workshops, galleries, books, etc…without even blinking. I barely even considered the answer before blurting it out. I had answered so many times before that I didn’t stop to consider if my tastes had changed. In fact, upon reflection, something rather disturbing happened when I answered. I failed to consider what I really and truly wanted. I had been answering how I thought I should answer…and that is not to say that I didn’t mean what I said, but that I didn’t say it how I should have.

Let me explain.

It is easy in the competitive world of photography to get caught up in the race of how far ahead can I get instead of answering, honestly, what makes you tick. I have fallen victim to this on occasion, and I believe it has happened again in my answering of the “10 years” question. Yes, I do want to be exhibiting my work. Yes, I do want to have books written. Yes, I do want to teach workshops….

But I don’t want my motivation to be fame, fortune, or even to put my photography out there as much as I can. When I think about my life in 10 years, it is very different from the answer I’ve been spitting out. If I think about what would truly make me happy on a regular basis, more than anything in the world, it is to be with my family. It is to live in the countryside. It is to be constantly inspired, but not for the end goal of showing people what I can create. I want to live passionately, I want to create for myself.

If we never redefine where we want to be in 10 years, that leaves us with the problem of not actually going anywhere. It is great to have goals, but it is also good to be honest with yourself about if your goals change. We as people change all the time, and our goals from one minute to the next might not be the same. By honestly evaluating your life and where you want to be you grow and you constantly guide your life down a happier path. Leave yourself room for growth within your dreams. Let them expand, become bigger, seem impossible. That is how you know they are worth following.

So when I answer the question of where do I want to be in 10 years, I need to remember where my true passions lie. Exhibiting your art means nothing if you are not personally satisfied with it, and so my answer should be, instead of talking about exhibiting my work, that I want to be personally fulfilled in what I do. When I say I want to teach photography, I need to rethink what exactly I want to teach. I love teaching photography, but the core of what I do is teaching inspiration and encouraging people to follow their passion. I never want to teach workshops that simply build a portfolio or teach a fancy technique, though I enjoy that being a part of it. I don’t want to put out editing DVDs to those who can’t hear the rest of the pitch. I want to inspire, to instill a sense of self-worth, and to make known the idea that inspiration is everywhere if you look for it. I want to write a book, but not just any book. I want to go back to my love of writing, which is at my very core, and I want to write about something more meaningful than how to work a camera. I want to write about the life-blood that flows through photography.

It can be tempting to figure out where photography is going and to be ahead of the curve. It can be a wonderful feeling to push and push and push for something and then finally achieve it. But what I never want to do is forget who I am and why I create, because that is my heart and soul. To push ahead  in the photography world for the sake of doing something more or getting my name out there, well that isn’t in my list of top 10 goals, or even top 100. That should not factor in to where I see myself in 10 years. It can be intimidating to see so many photographers doing the latest “in” thing, and it can be easy to see yourself being left behind in the industry if you don’t do it…it can be scary to give up a coveted place in the industry for the sake of happiness, but in the end, is there any more amazing reason than to follow your passion?

I know where I want to be in 10 years….HAPPY. I want to be happy. I want to CREATE, whether that is photography or otherwise. I want to be fulfilled by putting all that I have into what I create. All else comes second. If I can teach and inspire people through what I do, that will only add to my happiness. If I can exhibit my images in galleries and touch people with what I display, I will find myself on the right track to where I want to be in 10 years. All of this means nothing without fulfilling that first and most important desire of happiness. All else comes second.

{ 6 } Comments

  1. Iscah | May 21, 2012 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    Ah thank you Brooke! That spoke to me in many levels and I’m grateful to read your words this morning!

  2. sarah sartain | May 21, 2012 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    i really hope you get to write that book one day brooke…<3

  3. Dan Chatman | May 21, 2012 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    Thank you Brooke. As a new admirer I’ll look forward to your book not only for the images shown, but for your thoughts and feelings behind them. 

  4. Daisy | May 21, 2012 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    Very inspiring, thank you for sharing. I find myself getting caught up in what other photographers are doing sometimes…..or what I “should” be doing to get my name out there….and you are right, that’s not the point! I love it. Thank you.

  5. Rhiannon | May 21, 2012 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

    You’re an inspiration as always Brooke. I agree with how easy it is to get caught up in the desire for fame/recognition. It’s always best to create from the heart and do what makes you feel fulfilled creatively!

  6. Maritza | July 11, 2012 at 4:52 am | Permalink


    I came across your work this morning .. some place in cyberspace.. I had to take a pause and say.. WOW!
    looking through your work I fond my eyes tearing up..i don’t know why i cant explain it… something reaches into my soul and gives a little tug.. like an explanation i didn’t know i was waiting for… i am in love with your work.. I hope to take photography classes soon .. talent like yours comes from another realm… and i have no hopes of ever reaching that level.. but if i can capture the story behind the eyes.. the secret behind the smile… i will be satisfied… ok
    back to stalking your page… thank you so much for sharing your gift.. maybe one day i will be able to take your workshop.. i have to learn the basics first… till then… good day… and i hope you are having a happy & healthy day.

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