Inspire Speaker: Spencer Lum

In this series of blog posts we are introducing people who are speaking at and attending Inspire 2014. Today we'd like to introduce you to Spencer Lum of 5 West Studios and Ground Glass. Spencer  will be speaking about building a long-term strategy to learn to properly identify and develop visual and verbal cues that motivate clients to act and generate business. Brand for Life: Translating photographic style into visual and verbal language for lasting business

Spencer Lum

"Just breathe," I told myself, "you'll get through this."

I could feel my pulse rattling the walls of my brain. I imagined myself beet red, except I don't really turn been red unless I'm drunk. If only I were - anything to numb the anxiety.

Now, you might think ten years as a photographer would calm my nerves. You'd be wrong. A decade of shooting? Yeah, had that under my belt. A decade of shooting brides? Not so much. This was my first time out of the gates.

"OK, you two. Look at each other and pretend like you like each other!"

It was the best I had, as I wrenched my face to flash my pearly whites their way with what I can only imagine must have been a stultifying grin.

"What do you mean? We do like each other!" she said.

Not quite the reaction I was hoping for.

"Umm...OK. Well, um. I know. Why don't you two kiss?"

"But we just did."

Definitely not the reaction I was hoping for.

"Well....what about a dip with a kiss?"

No sir, not my finest moment. But I survived.

And we all survive. We all make it through our first day, our first month, our first year. That's not what it's about. That's instinct kicking our ass in gear to make sure we live to see another day. It's being in love, instead of loving. It's passion free of inspiration. But we can survive or we can thrive.

What it's really about is tomorrow and every day after that. What it's really about is you.

As for me? I like to think I dwell in permission. Not giving it, but needing it.

Permission? Fuck permission. Nike had it right, you know. Just do it.

But for all that, I'm fully convinced when you line up the sum total of every person on the planet and you put them in order from who is going to cave and conform to who is going to shatter walls and go the distance, I'm surely that single person sitting at the very end of the line waiting for permission.

So I know a thing or two about what it is to need. To know limitation after limitation. To find yourself stopped dead in your tracks with no ahead to see and no behind to cradle you through the long nights of doubt and dismay.

And what I know is you simply cannot stop. You cannot give up. You cannot give in.

What I know is you will never get permission, because there simply is no permission to be had. By whom? For what? When it comes to the topic of what we deserve and what we don't the terms of the deal are meaningless. There is no deal. There is nothing we deserve. There is nothing we don't.

You either do it or not, and that's it. Your job in this life you've been given is to crush anything standing between you and one step forward. You don't even have to know your five year plan, your one year plan, or the right move to make.

What you do need is to approach life in earnest, fully present, aware, and willing to engage it and everything it will throw at you. Which, by the way, is going to be a hell of a lot. A lot of us learn to hide and disengage. To wall ourselves off in a numbing world of static shot lists packed with oven ready formulas straight off the shelf, crushed by a mountain of expectation.

If I've learned anything in this life, it's that it doesn't have to be that way. Now, I don't imagine I'll ever work my way to the front of the line. Some part of me will always want the safety and the approval of knowing what I'm doing is the proper thing to do. But if you want a life of inspiration, you have to let go and be willing to work your way out of a tailspin here and there. Because if you go it full on and you don't back down, it turns out you will find the permission. It's just that by the time you do, you'll realize you never needed it to begin with.