President’s Message: Chart Your Journey

©Carolle Dachowski

I love a map. When I stopped being a passenger in my parents’ car and took control as a driver, maps became interesting to me. I kept an oversized U.S. atlas tucked into the map pocket of my 1981 Pontiac LeMans, consulting it when I didn’t know which road to take or how to navigate to a destination. At that age, I’d look through various state maps just to wander through them. Moving east to west, I could tell that the roads in the Midwest were straight and changed little in elevation until they hit the Continental Divide, where the roads looked more like rollercoasters. I dreamed of exploring those twists and turns and photographing the terrain I’d find there.

Throughout history, maps have played vital roles in the advancement of society. Mariners used sea charts and the stars to find faster ways to deliver their cargo. Henry Hudson used a map, although incorrectly, and found what would later become New York City. Voyagers in the Lewis and Clark expedition believed their maps were the secret to a river passage leading to the Columbia River Gorge. Their maps were wrong. Although maps have often proved inaccurate or been used incorrectly, they have served humanity as an efficient tool to help us achieve goals, save lives, and see the world.

“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will do.”

Early in my photography business, my wife and I didn’t use a map. In fact, we didn’t know we needed one, how it would benefit us, or where we could even find one. We had a destination in mind: a business that allowed us to balance our family time and our checkbook and not be overdrawn in either. But we were lost.

PPA and the education it curated through articles in this magazine and educational offerings at Imaging USA helped us craft our own map to success over the years.

This year at Imaging USA, PPA unveiled its achievement map, which lets you see some of the places your membership can take you and how to get there. There are so many routes to a healthy photography business, and here’s where you can learn some of the paths to your own success based on your specific goals.

Think about your business journey and decide right now where it will take you. Many years ago, I volunteered to provide transportation for one of the judges at the New Hampshire PPA annual conference. I thought the long drive would be an opportunity to connect with a seasoned professional. I was not wrong. For two hours, Sarah Johnston, M.Photog.Cr., and I chatted about image competition and the business of photography. At one point we were discussing the future of my studio and she said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will do.”

“A body in motion stays in motion.”

That was eye opening to me for two reasons. First, it means that it’s important to get going with confidence that you know where you’re headed. And second, it means that once you’ve pointed yourself in the right direction, you know you’ll get where you want to go even if the road is a long one. 

The lesson: Don’t wait for perfection to get going. A body in motion stays in motion, so get moving. Do something, anything, to help your studio become what you think it should be.

To me it also says it’s OK to take a wrong turn or choose a destination that you later decide isn’t right for you. You don’t have to go all the way back to the beginning; you just need to get moving in your new direction.

Today, we have access to a map of the world at our fingertips, but even with all this information at hand, we still need to first decide where we want to go. Your yesterdays don’t determine your tomorrows. Find the road you want to travel, get going, and be OK with recalculating your destination once in a while. 

Jeffrey Dachowski operates a photography studio in Bedford, New Hampshire, with his wife, Carolle.