Time is the only luxury. It’s the only thing you can’t get back. If you lose your luggage – I’m not gonna say the obvious brand of luggage that I’d normally say because I’ve got a meeting with them soon – if you lose your expensive luggage at the airport, you can get that back. You can’t get the time back.” – Kanye West

It seems the older I get, the less comfortable I am with doing things I don’t want to be doing. It may seem selfish but these days I don’t just immediately say yes to everything that comes my way, personally or professionally. I’m not trying to be rude but I don’t want to waste my time on things I don’t particularly care about. But I want to take a moment to focus on how this affects us all as artists.

This business is tough. There are a lot of photographers, a lot of directors, and a lot of all-around brilliant creative minds out there all vying for the same jobs. I lose out to other guys all the time. They had a better pitch. A better concept. A better portfolio. It’s part of the industry cycle and you have to come to terms with the fact that you’re not going to get every job you want. In fact, you’re going to get 10% of the jobs you want…maybe. All of us, in some form or fashion, are hustling to put food on the table and keep a roof over our heads while simultaneously trying to build a body of work we can be proud of.

If you’re not careful you can quickly find yourself caught up being “busy”. Taking every job simply because of the paycheck or in order to fill empty days on your calendar. Diluting your brand until there’s nothing left of the vision you once had. What’s worse is the time you spend letting your creativity slowly wither away is time you could have spent making something that mattered. Something that inspired others and brought some form of beauty to the world around you. Time spent creating ideas so that people could steal them in order to create their next great project. Ever wonder why your mood boards are made up of the references they are? Because your favorite director or photographer or graphic designer created something they were proud of. Art that they didn’t hesitate to spend their valuable time making.

Like everyone growing up, I used to think I’d live forever. I was invincible. It wasn’t until recently that I started taking the idea of my time more seriously. Like Kanye told the audience at Oxford, I can literally replace every possession I have. I can buy new luggage, cars, homes, watches, and gear. I can replace everything and anything. Everything except time lost on things I didn’t really want to be doing. Time spent making things that I refuse to put my name on. Things that didn’t inspire me or remind me of why I love what I do.

I relate to the guy. He’s older. He’s lived life, made mistakes, and sees things through the glass of knowing he’s not going to live forever. There’s an awakening that happens when you reach that point, reminding you of your own mortality and the value of your time. So be selfish about it. Be particular about what you put your name on. Say no to things you don’t want to do and instead go make the things that light up the world around you.

Once again, I’m terrible at closers so…

Sean Hagwell