What I Have to Say: Pat Furey


Interesting people make interesting photographs.

I’ve always believed that to become better at anything, the best way to do so is to become good at something else.

Remember what it felt like when you were first starting out in photography- the straight fire, the excitement, the hunger? All you wanted (you told yourself) was to be successful at this. You worked harder starting out because you had to. You needed to prove yourself. You soaked up information and reveled in your newfound ideas, vision, and talent. You continually failed at executing things, but you kept picking yourself back up and trying. The essence of the creative spirit is the unwavering strength in the face of the tremendous odds stacked against you.

With the creation of luck through hard work, dedication, and perseverance, you became a photographer.

Straight up sunshine and butterflies ahead, you thought.

After years of shooting, the excitement starts to wax and wane. Towards the end of every season, you start to get burned out. Being a photographer might start to feel more and more like a grind to you, and I’d venture to bet it’s because you’re no longer new at this. That hunger is still there, but you’re only half-hungry this time, and you start to grow stubborn because you finally think you know what you’re doing.

This is dangerous thinking. The antithesis of creativity is stubbornness.

In the grand scheme of things, you need to believe you’re still new at this.

That bewildering enthusiasm for your craft is something you’ll need to hold onto for your entire career. You’ll need to continually teach yourself how to learn or else you’ll become stale and unable to adapt. I’ve found that the process of learning anything of interest naturally makes you a more complete person (who then takes more interesting photographs, go figure).

The best way to avoid burnout, stay creative, and become a better photographer is to keep your mind in a constant state of learning and self-improvement.

Learn something new. Go on vacation. Go to the gym.

On these new endeavors, never aim for average or good enough. Leave your camera at home and try your best to become great at something other than photography.

I’m learning how to roast coffee. But the end result is not to roast great coffee; the end result is to learn how to open my mind to a new process. Great coffee might come when I’m worthy, but if it never does, that’s perfectly acceptable to me so long as I’m learning. In the same way that photography isn’t about pressing a shutter, roasting coffee is much more difficult than applying heat to some beans. There’s a complex process of adjusting, adapting, thinking, evaluating, and then readjusting, just like photography. Both mediums need more than technical prowess to achieve greatness. So far, I’m happily terrible at roasting coffee. I’m learning how to think differently and apply my brain (which admittedly gets lazy) to solve a new set of problems.

Chances are that if you’re in a rut, feeling down on your work, or need a mental boost, you don’t need to attend a workshop – you need to learn something new.

Put yourself out there and always strive to be better in everything that you do. Photography is a wildly complex and difficult art form and sometimes it’s best to put down the camera for a little while.

Dream like a beginner to think like an expert.

– Pat | Pat Furey Photography


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Our “What I Have to Say” Wednesday series features established photographers and artists with messages they just can’t keep inside. Authentically and honestly, our writers share words of wisdom to challenge, encourage, and inspire.


7 thoughts on “What I Have to Say: Pat Furey

  1. Last year was year ten as a photographer but it felt like my first, I went back to the drawing board so to speak and feel like a newbie all over again. Totally in love with it all again! Super wise words. Oh and a cat eating wedding shoes? Epic.

  2. This really hits home for me Pat. There was a point last year where I felt like I was in a rut. I thought my photos were “good” to get a larger clientele, but it wasn’t happening yet. It was at that point I decided to challenge myself creatively to see if I could push the envelope with my work, and worked on a photo collaboration project last May. Communicating with a team of artists was new to me. Being a leader was completely new. But after the project, I learned new qualities which helped me as a photographer, and grow as a person.

    And now being the winter time, means less clients. Guess what I’m doing? I’ve been teaching myself how to cook. The drive for photography hasn’t left me either. I think one of the biggest drives to an artist, is having that open mind. The willingness to learn. The willingness to be ever-changing. In my opinion, having that open mind-set will keep the hunger alive. No matter what path you take.

    Thanks for sharing man.

  3. A favorite post. Thank you, Pat. I have to add to your line “the antithesis of creativity is stubbornness” …. by adding “and ego.” We all do it… we hit a place (or a length of time rather) where we think we should know it all and we quit asking questions because the answers we should already know. But, we all have room to learn new things from each other – complex to basic. And yes yes yes to learning something new. You are a smart (and über talented) dude!

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