The More You Learn, The More You Earn

James Dockery teaching Adobe Premier Pro during the Storytellers Abroad Workshop in Lima, Peru. [X-E3, XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS, ISO 4000, ƒ/4.5, 1/100, Focal Length = 29]

I am just wired to learn more and more. Once I find a subject, I then end up going down that rabbit hole. I want to know more and more.

Here are some of the major changes in my career that required me to learn more or earn less.

  • Learning to shoot Transparency film like Kodachrome
  • Learning how to use hotshoe flash
  • Learning how to use studio strobes
  • Learning how to create audio/transparency slide show
  • Learning how to control my strobes by understanding all the light modifiers
  • Switching from Film to Digital
  • Learning PhotoShop
  • Learning about Metadata
  • Learning how to create Database
  • Learning how to create Website
  • Learning how to create a blog
  • Learning how to create digital audio slide shows
  • Learning how to shoot video with my DSLR
  • Learning about mirrorless cameras
  • Learning how to use Sliders & Gimbals
  • Learning how to fly drone and become a FAA Part 107 Certified Remote Pilot
Photo By Gibbs Frazeur

Only 15% of hiring managers say most job seekers have the skills their company is looking for.* If you want increase your chances of getting a good job, you want to be in that 15%. Which means you want to take the time to acquire the skills employers are looking for. 

This is also true for those doing Gig Work. [The term “gig” is jargon for “temporary job.” You’ve likely heard it used conversationally, especially when freelancers say, “I’ve booked a gig.” Additionally, you’ve probably heard of a “gig economy,” which means a free market system in which businesses use independent contractors—for short periods of time—to handle.]

There are two ways to decide what you need to tackle next. You can be on the Bleeding Edge, which is a little more risky way to go. Now if you pick the right “New Trend” then you could easily get a lot of work. However, often when you try and guess what is the next big thing is being too early.

When I switched to digital from film I did it when it was a little more economical and the technology had come closer to giving me a similar quality with my film. That was the year 2002. I paid $1,999. The year earlier a similar Kodak back for the Nikon F5 went for $16,000. The year prior to that it was $25,000. I was not making enough money in those years to ever recover the cost of those cameras.

St John’s Baptist Church in Connelly Springs, North Carolina. [DJI Air 2S, Mode = Normal, ISO 100, 1/50, ƒ/2.8, (35mm = 24)]

In 2013 DJI introduced their first Phantom Drone. This drone began the modern camera-equipped drone craze. Within just a few years, DJI would hold a commanding position in the consumer drone market, with almost 80% of consumer drones in operation manufactured by DJI or one of their subsidiaries.

I had bought a couple toy drones and could barely fly them without crashing. So, I was waiting until the technology was solid enough that I stepped into the drone world this February when I studied for and passed my FAA Part 107 Certified Remote Pilot test. I bought my first drone just a few days before I took my test.

While we all know about the “Learning Curve” and think it will be like this one above, it is really more like this one.

William S. Burroughs is credited with the quote, “When you stop growing you start dying.” I think this is the best possible way to think of the alternative to becoming a Lifelong Learner.

Here is one more way to understand why you want to also “Learn More, To Earn More”. The odds of you increasing your income from one year to the next is directly related to what new things you have added to your skill base. Now I am not saying you should be chasing money, but just to stay at similar income, the cost of living will go up. The only way to keep up with this is to produce more and more content, or to produce better content that is worth more.