It’s graduation season, and graduation is great. At all levels. You walk up those steps on stage a normal man/woman, a simpleton, a thicky. You had to be told where to sit, and where to walk, how to dress, and how many steps to take. But walking down them, a graduate, a scholar, there was simply no instruction at all. All that’s there is ‘Proceed to exit.’
Something like that.
At some point in the ceremony, generally the highlight, someone’s called to the stage to address the class. As if for a final piece of guidance before walking out the door and into ‘life’, the commencement speech is a bit of a big deal, especially when delivered by the Steve Jobs’ and Richard Bransons of the world. And people like Robert De Niro, who delivered the commencement speech to the NYU Tisch School Of The Arts’ 2015 graduates.
In full-fledged ‘Focker’, naturally he was direct and told all the grads, “You made it….and, you’re f#cked.” Even for NYU, which never lacks for great speeches by great orators, De Niro is special, and the reality with which he addressed the subject of life for artists and creatives compared to other classic pillars of education, resonates with photographers.
When it comes to the arts, passion should always trump common sense. You weren’t just following dreams, you were reaching for your destiny. You’re a dancer, a singer, a choreographer, musician, a filmmaker, a writer, a photographer, a director, a producer, an actor, an artist. Yeah, you’re f#cked.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom though, as he notes that it’s passion that causes us to choose this path, and it’s a rewarding one, and an undeniable one, if unstable; that the satisfaction of heeding to your passion is worth it. I think many of us would agree, even if we complain. The speech also touched upon the value of relationship maintenance, knowing how to work with others, and also realizing when to cut your losses. And not one to end on simply a negative note, he was appreciatively honest about the state of affairs and what it’s like to face life as a creative,
On this day of triumphantly graduating, a new door is opening for you: a door to a lifetime of rejection. It’s inevitable. It’s what graduates call the real world. Rejection might sting but my feeling is that often it has very little to do with you. When you’re auditioning or pitching, the director or producer or investor may have something or someone different in mind. That’s just how it is.
While most of the examples discussed relate more to acting, it’s almost entirely applicable to photography and any other creative endeavor. De Niro, predictably, is extremely good at delivering his message, maintaining eye contact with the audience entirely, which makes the 17 minute video easy and worth a watch, even if just for some inspiration.
Source: TIME Magazine