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Just a few years ago I was doing a very different type of photography. It was not even on my radar to consider anything other than the lifestyle photography I was shooting. Then, through a series of life events, I had to make some drastic changes in the way I lived and worked. The universe was trying to tell me something and, for the first time in my life, I paid much closer attention to what it was trying to communicate.
The universe whispers and you have to be listening to the sometimes subtle messages that the story of your life is trying to convey to you. I could have remained angry at the universe for dishing out the severe chapter that I had just lived and, truth be told, I did stay bitter for a while. Then it occurred to me that I should use that energy in a more positive way, to try doing some of the things that I had in my heart and yet lacked the courage to attempt. The first step was to take an inward look and figure out where I was, what I wanted to do, and how I was going to get there.
The purpose of writing about this is not to tell you how I ended up traveling the world and taking photos of some of the most beautiful places on Earth. My point is to tell you that believing in yourself, getting started on working toward your goals, and taking some big chances can end up being the best thing that ever happens to you. It worked for me and continues to work for me, especially in those times when I’m discouraged or life is just plain kicking me in the teeth.
"We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open." —Jawaharlal Nehru
Figuring out what I really wanted to do in photography was the first step. Believing that I could achieve those goals was the next. While this sounds easy, having that kind of positive attitude and belief in myself has never come naturally. Facing this challenge was one of the toughest things I've ever done, but also one of the most rewarding. Researching how I could get to do the travel photography that I wanted to do was a vital part of launching this new chapter in my career. Wanting something is not enough, so educating yourself on how to achieve those goals is absolutely crucial.
If you want to do something, you’d better get started. It sounds easier than it actually is, but taking the first step and diving head-first into a new project, new career, new life, can be terrifying. Human beings are creatures of habit, and we are not prone to accepting change easily. Start by achieving small realistic and achievable goals in order to accomplish your long-term larger objectives. Make sure you finish those small tasks that allow you to achieve your goals. Nothing is more discouraging than not being able to finish something into which you’ve put a lot of energy. It takes hard work and sacrifice to achieve important goals. Don't think that it has been easy for me or anyone who has achieved goals that are similar to the ones you're looking to achieve. Trust me when I say “...the harder I work, the luckier I get.”
Just a few short years ago, if you had told me that, in 2014, I would travel to Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Amsterdam, London, Berlin, Rome, Florence, Tuscany, Cinque Terre, Turin, Banff, Jasper, Calgary, Edmonton, all over Iceland (twice), Cologne, Malta, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, New York City, Utah, Arizona, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, I would have said you were crazy.
Have I achieved everything I wanted? Of course not. But, I have followed a non-linear path to get to the point where I’m not just traveling and shooting but inspiring others to travel with me on the photo tours I run in places like Iceland and Italy.
I’m working harder than ever, but I’m enjoying being a photographer more than at any other point in my career. Necessity pushed me to make some dramatic changes in my life, and take some chances, but it’s passion and determination that keeps me focused. My motivation is to continue to explore the world and to share my passion for travel and photography with others.
It seems to be working out for me right now, but I’m always listening for what the universe is whispering to me. Here’s to another year of exploration and adventure.
Ken Kaminesky is a commercial travel photographer, writer, consultant, and entrepreneur. His work has been featured in numerous commercial publications, including the New York Times and on the cover of National Geographic. He communicates his passion for travel, and for the landscapes and people he meets along the way, through his popular blog, and through yearly workshops in places as far-flung as Jordan, Italy, Canada, and Iceland. His favorite place in the world is always his next destination. He believes that every place has a story that will inspire people, and he’d love to capture it in an image.