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News & Insight

‘Good’ Is The New ‘Average’ So be ‘Great’ For A Chance | Motivation From Scott Robert Lim

By Kishore Sawh on October 26th 2014


If you have some minutes to spare, and decide to utilize that time watching the featured video, I’d wager it’ll evoke some sort of emotion from you. ‘Go Big Or Go Home!’, hustle, and don’t put forth mediocrity, is the message being, at times, shouted at you by professional photographer Scott Robert Lim. Parts of it can come across a bit preachy, and perhaps sort of Tony Robbins-esque – more motivational speaker than photographic instructor and he can be a little harsh, a little abrasive, and judging from some of the comments, could very well rub you the wrong way. He is though, in my view, spot on.


Scott Robert Lim is an internationally acclaimed, master photographer (Photog Cr. AOPA) with a host of prestigious accolades to his name, and under his belt. That’s all well and good, and gives him a good weight of professional credibility, but for the purpose of what he is trying to get across in this class, it’s his personal story that really begins to bring a sense of weight to his words. You can read his story here on his site, but suffice to say, he struggled much, and fought his way to where he is.


The primary point Lim makes that warranted a share, is that about competition. 66 photographers he found in a square mile of where he lives, and though his math is off as he begins to expand, that number alone should get you, an aspiring photographer, to take a deep breath. The competition is totally, utterly, devastatingly real, and better than you think. As an editor for SLR Lounge, I see a literal firehose of photographic produce on a daily basis, and allow me to reinforce Lim here by saying that ‘good’ is the new ‘average’. You’ve got to be great to be good now, and just as the internet has brought the factors of production back to the masses in business, it has also done so in education. So the resources are there for you to become great, but that goes for everyone else too, it’s really now a matter of dedication. Beware that lollipop of mediocrity, one lick and you suck for life.

See more from Lim on his site, and Creative Live, Photo credit to One Sharp Joe

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A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Jared Hurwich

    Just a quick math correction to further illustrate his point:

    1 mile out = 1 x 1 = 1 square mile = 66 photographers
    10 miles out = 10 x 10 miles = 100 square miles = 6,600 photographers
    100 miles out = 100 x 100 miles = 10,000 square miles = 660,000 photographers.

    This is all assuming that every square mile is typical to his surroundings, but it does go to show (preliminary) that there are quite a bunch of us out there. Which I’d say is a good thing!

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  2. Pye

    I’ll be honest, it’s silly to think you can gain a professional education in anything (photography, painting, culinary arts, accounting, business) without paying for it. You need to invest in your education. Whether you choose to go to a school, or read books, or watch online courses. The only way to quickly and efficiently gain knowledge is to study from full courses, not little free tips and tricks here and there that you find online. Free tips and tricks are great for just that, little things to help you do something better. But, it isn’t the foundation that you need to get you off the ground. Yes, you can get a free education online, but it will take you 5-10x longer, it won’t be as comprehensive, and by the time you learn something, you will already be behind.

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  3. Matthew Saville

    I’m very, very glad that I had the opportunity to learn this type of stuff from Scott Robert in 2008 during an international workshop in Spain. Scott has been right-on with everything he does for about a decade now, and it’s been an honor to observe and learn from it all.

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  4. Ian Moss

    A few years ago I was asked if my daughter would like to assist on a shoot. Well know celeb chef, doing a campaign for a major supermarket. The ‘photographer’ was the daughter of one of the directors. No talent required!

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  5. David Hall

    “Mediocre imagery is a failure”… maybe so, but so is a mediocre presentation. I’m in agreement that the words expressed are true. I’m just of the opinion there’s certainly nothing “above average” here in the presentation or the message. This is “beginner motivational speaking” speak 101. Just a promo for Creative Live.

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  6. Ian Moss

    With so many thinking they are entitled to earn from a hobby, in an unregulated ‘industry’ you really need to be good – or at least have really good contacts.

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  7. Kurk Rouse

    I’ve invested loads on education , shooting , lighting and post production just to name a few , one thing that not a lot of people are not willing to teach is the business of photography. Business is where most photographers fall behind, but just like how you fuel the photography beast by practising and educating yourself , you have to do the same for the at times not so forgiving beast of business. I was told and have experienced for myself that the hard lessons are the ones you remember and he is correct when he said that all this information out there for free and it’s up to the individual to set themselves apart from the rest , some can naturally do it but for most it takes a much longer journey for you to get there .

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  8. Neu Porabno

    Everything is true but.. he keeps saying everything is FREE and INEXPENSIVE. Only 99 USD. How is this free then?

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    • Kishore Sawh

      There’s a lot of daily free content on Creative Live, nd of course elsewhere on the net such as right here on SLRL. Also, and please don’t take this the wrong way, but $99 for access to the troves of information is, in many ways, such a bargain.

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    • Neu Porabno

      Kishore: True – it is a bargain I guess (do not know the content) but it´s still not free. Information on the other sites and if you combine everything from 100 sources then you might call it free. Not saying anything about his offer but just the fact that he´s saying free and inexpensive in the same sentence.

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    • Steven Pellegrino

      $99.00 is the new free!

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    • Steven Pellegrino

      When Creative Live is first broadcasting a new seminar, it is free. It’s free to watch live. They also make repeats of that day’s seminar available for free during the two or three days that seminar is initially shown. So you do have several opportunities to watch for free. Chances are you aren’t going to absorb all of the information presented in a three day seminar, but it’s a great way to know if you want to buy it later on. And I agree with Kishore, $99 is a bargain.

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  9. Anthony McFarlane

    Great information. As a musician this is the same conversation professors had with me in college. Bottom line as an artist you gotta hussle and push yourself to the limits. Thanks for sharing

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  10. Will Conway-Isaacs

    Thanks for the article! Insightful and helpful tips are always welcome!

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