The Proven Path to Doing Unique and Meaningful Work

The Proven Path to Doing Unique and Meaningful Work


Table Of Content(toc)

1. Introduction


“Today I want to speak to you / For the second time today / on a subject that has divided us / This time around, / on a subject that has divided us / not once, but twice.”

Arno Rafael Minkkinen was born in Helsinki Finland in 1924.

His father was a photographer and his mother was a seamstress. As a young man he studied photography and earned an MFA at the New England School of Photography in Boston. In 1948 he immigrated to the United States and worked as a commercial photographer for 20 years.

Minkkinen retired in 1982, at age 76. By this time, he had amassed an enormous body of work that would go on to sell over $100 million worldwide.

He died in September of 2017 at the age of 90 after a long battle with cancer.


2. Minkkinen’s Story


I went through a period of very intense introspection. I knew that I had to make a choice: go back to graduate school or work full-time in photography. Fortunately, I have always been blessed with the ability to see eye-to-eye with other people, so I decided to take the plunge and go back. It was a long, difficult journey back from where I had been before my graduation, but the end result was clear: there was no way that I could be happy working alone.

The upshot was an epiphany: the biggest way that we make our lives more meaningful is by making others’ lives more meaningful too. This has been true for as long as humanity has walked this planet; it will continue to be true for as long as there are people out there who are trying to make each other’s lives more meaningful too — and therein lies our great power and our true contribution to society.

I believe that this is also true for photographers — and that is why I wrote this article for you today. You can do something similar by reading it and sharing it on your social media accounts (or not just your social media accounts, but your professional ones too). And you can do something different by talking about it with your friends. The point here is not to convince someone else of anything (though this may be possible), but simply to demonstrate that doing unique things can lead to meaning in life in different ways than most people expect (which is also why writing this article seemed like an obvious idea).


3. The Perfect Image: The ME of Minkkinen’s Speech


Not everyone is a serious photographer. Not everyone is an artist. Not everyone has a product to sell and very few people have a brand to protect.

A lot of people make a living in the world of photography without ever holding any type of camera in their hands and perhaps without ever holding an actual product in their hands as well (even if they are strongly associated with a particular brand). But by the time Minkkinen was running the New England School of Photography, he had been doing unique things with his camera for 40 years.

Let me explain why:

It’s not that the camera and what you see through it are the only things that matter (I don’t even use my DSLR much anymore). What matters most is how you look at what you are seeing and what makes it special. It’s not that there is a “right way to do anything,” but rather there are so many approaches to doing anything in life that each person should discover their own way of doing things — which takes discipline and experience. The other side of this coin is that most people don’t understand how extraordinary they really are until they get really passionate about something, take risks and fail (or succeed) so many times that they start to believe in themselves for the first time.


4. Inspiring Photo Quotes That Lead to Success


This is a great example of how art and photography can be an inspiration for your work. “The path to success is not a straight one. It has many twists and turns.”

In a very real sense, Arno Minkkinen’s life was more than just what you read about him in the news: it was his actions that were truly meaningful, both personally and professionally. He started out as a photographer in the Finnish National Police Service, where he was exposed to management styles that were much different from those of his future employer, Apple (which he joined after leaving the police).

He eventually moved on to start his own company in 2000. What he discovered during that time was that most of the people he hired came from photography backgrounds: they had training and experience, but they had little idea what they wanted to do with their lives beyond photography (and even less understanding of why they did what they did with their lives).

Arno Minkkinen took pleasure in teaching others how to do the same thing. “I found myself spending more time teaching people than actually making images; I would ask them questions about their work and then go around asking them questions about themselves,” he recalled. “I made it a point to help them understand why they did what they did so they could do something similar with their lives as well.”

Minkkinen knew these lessons even before starting his own business: by age 20, he had already begun photographing when it wasn’t on anyone else’s calendar (the only other thing you really need for photography is day #1 of your calendar!).

When we think about how useful some of these principles are for us at The Good Life, this is exactly where I see similarities between The Good Life and Minkkinen’s life: we want to help others who have interests similar to our own — we want to inspire others through our work; we want our efforts to yield tangible results for those who are willing and able to invest time in learning and growing; we value quality over quantity; we believe learning is an ongoing process; we believe that if we don’t try new things every once in a while then all of life will pass us by without us noticing — which sounds like something other people might say but isn’t necessarily applicable at all times or places. These are all things one might hear someone say when they are thinking about starting up or learning something new or


5. Conclusion


I’ve spent a lifetime studying photography. I studied all the ways of capturing images and in every case, I have found that what separates the good photographer from the mediocre photographer, is skillful execution.

The difference between the good photographer and the mediocre photographer is not the equipment or skill sets they use, it is how they see things and how they process that information.

To get better at something, you must learn to look at it differently — you must try to see things in a new way. This is what I mean by “atomic habits”.

It doesn’t matter how good your camera or lens or rig or lighting setup is; you will never be as good at anything as you will be if you don’t consider your life at work with a different set of eyes — if you don’t consider yourself an artist and not a technician. And that means that when it comes to creating artwork, there are only two ways to do it: either do it in an artistic way entirely unrelated to your craft or do it in an artistic way that serves some other craft (like an oil painting).


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