On photography by Steve Jobs

Since Sunday I have wanted to photograph – you know that insane desire to step out and create something.  Unfortunately with the imminent change in season here in Delhi, the weather, and the light, is tending to be unpredictable.  I did manage to today – walked for an hour-and-a-half in the sun completely drenched in sweat trying to find something, anything really, and finally photographed whatever was in front of me in the last 5 minutes or so of that time. Not for anything else, but because the desire to hear the sound of the shutter was overwhelming. I knew within my heart that those photographs were rather ordinary to say the least, and so I’m not using those. (In fact, I don’t know which photographs would be appropriate for this post…). And then I started thinking of inspiration.

I guess I need to do something different, “think different” as Steve Jobs would have said. Many people, many things, many circumstances influence my photography and my life – Steve Jobs happens to be one of them.  Leonardo da Vinci is another, but I’ll write about him sometime else. And importantly, all of you who read what I have to say, though I write for myself even today, influence me by your art and your words, and even more importantly those utterly “ordinary” people whom I photograph who teach me indelible lessons of, and for, life.

Even the slogan of Apple is just that – Think Different.

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes.

The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them.

About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They invent. They imagine. They heal. They explore. They create. They inspire. They push the human race forward.

Maybe they have to be crazy.

How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art? Or sit in silence and hear a song that’s never been written? Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels?

While some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

When I read this (and I do it often), I dream of making a difference, of changing the world and I vaguely know how.  It reaffirms my need to dream. To dream a really, really big dream. It won’t be another Apple that I’ll create for sure, and it has nothing to do with professional photography (that’s something I am not going to do). It’s a dream using photography to probably make a difference in the lives of many, many people – at least I hope so.  I’ll try and I’ll try my utmost best.  And yes, photography happened to me by chance. As also did many things in my life. I didn’t know then what an influence those happenchances, happenstances would have on my life. The same is true for anything you pursue and love with your heart.

But since this post is about what Steve Jobs would have said if he had to tell me about life and photography (or whatever it is that you might love), I guess it would be this:

Lesson #1: You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

Lesson #2: Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.

Lesson #3: Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

And finally, he would have said:

“Stay hungry, stay foolish”.

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  1. Letizia October 24, 2012 at 3:10 am #

    Thank you for your gifts. Thanks for the lessons, thanks for windows that you open, for the doors that grooves and the mountains conquests, for the life monsters. For your enlightening words and images. Beautiful.

  2. Michael Clivner October 24, 2012 at 4:36 am #

    I’m pretty sure that art is everywhere. We just have to know how to look. Today I am looking at Fall here in Oregon. You walk and you look and eventually you may find something. The trick, as you are teaching me, is to keep looking. Yes, Jobs was a great innovator but sadly he did not have much of a heart. That’s a sad thing. Doesn’t lessen his genius though.

  3. Nancy de Flon October 24, 2012 at 4:57 am #

    His Lesson #3 which you quote here are probably the most important words he ever uttered. I wrote them down some time ago and share them often. Thank you, Debesh, for sharing them here with everyone in their wider context. They can’t be said often enough.

  4. Anu October 24, 2012 at 8:02 am #

    Debesh, loved reading your blog as always.
    I , one among the majority of “normal” people need a few ‘crazy rebels’ in this world to remind us that time waits for no one, and that one should continue to dream our dreams without losing faith. You are daring enough to go after your dreams. That is truly commendable and my best wishes to you to attain them.
    As far as the pictures that you have put, in support of this blog are concerned, the choice could not have been better. The way I see it, these pictures of Jantar Mantar signifies DIFFERENT pathways that one can take to achieve their destination, other than just the tested and already tried TRADITIONAL ones.

  5. Narendra October 24, 2012 at 2:12 pm #

    Debesh, there is something in the text which reminds one of the famous Romanian thinker: “To have lived for nothing, and to have died of strain”. As you say, there is no strain in being oneself. I, unfortunately, am no photographer or even a student of art but exceedingly good images. You highlighted their persona so effortlessly; just as they too are a creation in effortlessness. It all is so evident in the forest, too. Your images have a poignant humility and comfort. THANK YOU.

  6. Pierre Turyan October 24, 2012 at 2:54 pm #

    Art is a Field of Grace for human beings!
    Great, positive and inspiring as always. Love it.
    Thank you.

  7. Jorge October 24, 2012 at 5:01 pm #

    Thanks to you both, Debesh and Steve !!!!!!

  8. Emily Mabee October 24, 2012 at 7:38 pm #

    The photography is beautiful and you words are true. As Joseph Campbell said, “Follow your bliss”.
    I truly enjoy following your blog.
    thanks again Debesh.

  9. Eli Vega October 24, 2012 at 8:31 pm #

    Debesh– your words remind me of a movie I recently saw, of which the story is set in India. It’s called “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.” It is filled with great life messages, both spoken and otherwise.

    My favorite line from the movie is, “Everything will be all right in the end. And if it’s not–it’s not the end.”

    Great shots too, by the way!

  10. Sandy October 24, 2012 at 9:02 pm #

    I read most of your posts without pictures first…Had no idea what pictures you had posted with this write-up. It makes reading your post again all the more interesting. You open a lot of doors with your writing as well…and to find a visual that reaffirms the thoughts is truly fabulous. I am touched. Every time!

  11. Helen October 25, 2012 at 5:12 am #

    Debesh that was inspiring, I hope you don’t mind if I share this with everyone I know. I love lesson 3 and yes our time is limited.

  12. Heidger Marx October 25, 2012 at 8:09 am #

    Dear Debesh,

    your lessons resonate a lot with me, thank you for sharing them with all of us.

    Many things I do right now don’t seem to make a lot of sense, however, in looking but I can see that line that connects all the dots and it has for sure make me more balanced, more open, kinder and more in tune with my life’s purpose.

    Still, being in the now, I am struggling while following, my heart, my photography, the same choice as yours. I guess, I am not able to see the big picture, a.k.a. the line that connects those dots at the point where I am.
    Which then brings me to the next point, the trust and the leap of faith, that is indispensable in what we are doing, taking that step in the unknown, being vulnerable and risking so much (are we really risking so much, or is it just our ego telling us, that we are…?)

    As always, my friend, your thoughts are balm on my heart, I feel I know you for so long and we never met (yet).

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
    – heidger

  13. jaitri acharya October 25, 2012 at 8:41 am #


  14. Paulomi October 25, 2012 at 4:02 pm #

    Most of the time, with me, I know which direction I am going in.. although people question my sense of direction.. you, for one, may have guessed that I really don’t give a penny’s worth of thought to what the world says about it… but well, things change perspective,one begins to question one self when ‘the people who care for you’ doubt your stride… I was going thru’ one such dilemma, when again, somehow your blog brought things back into perspective. Won’t say much about your writing and photography this time, as it is Impeccable as always, but really want to say Thanks for sharing this at just the right time. :)

  15. Debesh November 6, 2012 at 11:46 am #

    Thank you so much Letizia for such lovely words from your heart. I am most grateful my friend. Stay safe.

    I completely agree with you Michael on what you said about Steve Jobs – he would perhaps be remembered with love as opposed to “reverence” had he possessed some more empathy and compassion. Thank you for saying I am teaching you – that’s not entirely true…I am merely sharing my journey.

    Thank you Nancy – yes indeed, they can’t be repeated often enough.

    Anu, you’re too kind. I am happy you found the images supporting the words, so to speak. I wasn’t sure of what to use, but these came closest to “design and creativity” which Steve was synonymous with.

    Narendra: Sir, the words you’ve quoted make me ponder and think: “To have lived for nothing, and to have died of strain”. How beautifully expressed, how evocative. Thank you for writing and sharing your thoughts.

    Many thanks Pierre and Jorge for writing – I am grateful.

    Emily: My friend, I am touched by your kindness – thank you.

    Yes, I’ve seen the film Eli – and thank you for relating my words to such a beautiful movie. I am overwhelmed. I love that line too…thanks again for your thoughts.

    Thanks so much Sandy! You always say the most beautiful things. I am grateful to you for writing in each time.

    Thank you so much Helen – please feel free to share my posts with your friends. I look forward always to being in touch with you.

    Dear Heidger: My friend, thank you for such lovely thoughts on what I have written. I share my journey because in some which way perhaps we all need reaffirmation that the path we have chosen to walk on is the right one. As I say something to you, you reply to me and we are both then surer of where we are and where we need to go. My experience tells me that not all questions have answers for now – but answers do come, sometimes even after an interminable wait. As you so rightly said, we just need to trust and keep the faith. Stay safe my friend.

    Thank you Jaitri.

    I am so glad Paulomi that this was posted fortuitously at the right time for you. Don’t doubt yourself ever – the truest journeys are those you’ll make alone, trust me on that; and if you happen to doubt yourself, just look once again within your heart and repeat these words to yourself. All the best my friend.

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