Day 77: What Hamilton Taught Me About Photography

OKAY. This post isn’t for everyone. 90% of what I listen to is Musicals. The other 10% is Taylor Swift. I was raised on musicals and I understand not everyone shares my enthusiasm for musical theater, BUT two years ago a musical came out that blew my mind, and it has taken the number one spot on my list of favorite musicals. That musical was… HAMILTON!!! You’ve heard of it, I know you have. Maybe you’ve listened to it. Maybe you know how to rap Guns and Ships and if you do, we should be friends.

My homeboy, Lin Manuel Miranda, writes straight to my heart. This musical was also incredibly timely because I was at the end of my rope with my full time job. I felt like I was stationary in my business. I felt like I was unmotivated and spinning my wheels towards more of the same. But then Hamilton graced my ears, and I was back on track. So today I wanted to share how Hamilton impacted me.

  1. Good things don’t come to those who merely wait.

If you’re not familiar with the story, it follows two politicians, Hamilton and Burr, through their political careers. Hamilton is opinionated, brave and principled, while Burr plays his cards close to his chest, never really taking a stand and willing to change his beliefs with the tides.

If we are being honest, most of us play it like Burr. Quietly waiting for something big to happen for us, as if success is given to those who stand in a big line and wait their turn. We’re so often not willing to put ourselves out there, our opinions and beliefs, in case they aren’t well received. In fact, Burr has a whole song called “Wait for it.” Meanwhile, Hamilton is rocking a song called Non Stop. I don’t even think he SINGS in that song, it’s just what other people are saying about him while he’s working his butt off. He has no time to worry about what people are thinking or saying, he’s shaping a new country, he’s defending the constitution, he’s making it happen!

Good things don’t come to those who merely wait for it, good things come to those who work hard and are true to what they believe in.

  1. You don’t get a win unless you play in the game.

This is my favorite lyric in the entire show… in one of my favorite songs in the entire show. Hamilton tells Burr: “When you got skin in the game, you stay in the game. But you don’t get a win unless you play in the game. Oh, you get love for it, you get hate for it, you get nothing if you wait for it.”

Ummmmmmmmmmm…….. talk about lyrics that knock you off your feet. I realized I wasn’t IN the photography game. I had no skin to lose because I was working full time in an office, and if I lost all my photography money I’d still be okay. It was because of this positioning that I put very little into my business. Add to that that I was filled with fear over what people might think of me and I was nowhere in the game I was supposed to be playing. I was too scared that I’d fall on my face in front of everyone. I was scared I would get hate thrown at me. I was so afraid that for nine years, I simply waited for my turn.

If you’re waiting, I will tell you now, your turn won’t come knocking on your door. You have to take your own safety, your pride, your comfort and put it on the line for your dream to come to life. If you don’t do that, you won’t play like you need to play to win.

  1. What I’m doing is important.

I often get carried away in my own thoughts. I’m one of those people who thinks about the size of the universe. Or what it’s like on other planets. If there is intelligent life on other planets, do they have weddings? Or family? Or music? Or dancing? Are those things specific to humans and Earth? And sometimes I think, “In 1,000 years, we will hardly have existed at all.” I mean, I’m sure the advances in medicine and technology will be appreciated from our time but realistically, the fact that I braved singing a song at Karaoke last week or the fact that I drank three more Pepsis than I should have yesterday won’t matter in the slightest.

Then my photography becomes the focus of these kinds of thoughts. I’ve always loved thinking that someday, long after I’m gone, a wedding photo I took will be framed in silver on the piano of the great granddaughter of one of my couples. Then I think, “I’ll really never know, I’ll never actually see that, so it really doesn’t matter.”

In the last minutes of Hamilton, he says:

“Legacy, what is a legacy?
It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see.”

Okay. So I see. That silver frame might not be there in 100 years… but it also might be. I don’t get to see it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important. In fact, it makes me want to photograph MORE people, children, and weddings, so that the chances of that dream becoming real increases with each click of my shutter. Additionally, the desire to make sure the image that ends up in that silver frame is an incredibly beautiful, classic, and timeless image also increases.

Friends, if you have the time, listen to this soundtrack. Go see it in person. It will change your life. Live passionately, live fearlessly, create from your heart without any doubt, fear or shame, and live to fulfill your legacy.