Well, no one has ever asked me this question before to be sure, nevertheless, here are the steps. Starting no later than the age of 18, you need to start a reading program of say 1000 pages a week. The subjects should include, comparative religious thought, the arts and sciences, psychology; in brief the world of ideas, and the more scholarly the better. In addition, you’ll need to view as many foreign/ art films as possible as well as all the live music available, and of course a healthy dose of gallery and museum attendance. You’ll have to live in a community where all of this is possible and believe me there aren’t that many. Because you are 18 you won’t know anything, it will all have to be learned. There will be little if any time for any kind of paying job so learning to live on air and dew will be a necessity.

This task will be your career, but you won’t make a cent doing it. This phase will last 15 years. At the end of this first period all that you have learned and experienced will likely become a source of disillusionment and depression. All of those high ideas will have little if anything to do with the world as it really is. Your place in all this mess is unlikely to improve your mood. At this point medication will be necessary, so you’ll need to get your hands on as much alcohol, dope, and poison as possible. Now I would be completely remiss if I didn’t put a huge disclaimer on this one. Fools rush in and fools don’t get out of this abyss and they are not the only ones. Now just because you find yourself in a more or less continual blurred/altered state you will still need to continue working. Continue with the live music and art house films and surround yourself with as many diverse and offbeat characters as possible. As far as the characters go, that won’t require much effort as it just goes with the territory.

25 years should be about right for this phase. Now some with a perverse imagination might find all of this romantic, believe me when I tell you this that romantic is not a word that comes to mind concerning any of this. If you haven’t always been alone in your life you will be long before this phase is finished which will serve you well in the next phase. Now it’s time to go shopping. You won’t have any money of course, but not to worry, you’re going to charge everything. Now it’s very important that you only get the very best equipment money can buy, not what you think you can afford. Remember you’ve been to hell and back a few times, so get the best camera, computer, monitor, the whole 9 yards. Keep up the payments as long as you can, but don’t forget to leave some cash for gas, you're going to need it. At some point probably early on you will not be able to make any more payments on the loans. A pity, but since you have nothing even resembling a permanent address, they won’t find you and you can continue working. And again, of course, you are alone by now so 14 hours a day practice shooting and learning every nook and cranny of Photoshop and the rest of the technology should not present a problem. The occasional numinous experience in the field will be a comfort. This phase will last 10 years.

If you get to this point you deserve a hearty congratulations, you have now arrived. So what does it all mean? Feels good having some economic security for a change – wrong! You will be as broke or broker than ever. Well, if nothing else the psychic boost will unite you with the woman/ or man of your dreams. Oops, sorry again Charlie; do a little math here. By the time you arrive at this stage you’re going to be old and no one, I mean no one, is going to find you attractive or desirable now, I mean no one this side of the century mark. Still no worries, by this time you will be an expert in living alone. If by the off chance someone does show an interest, you will be slim and trim if not necessarily by choice, please run the other way as fast as possible, but of course by now for you, this will become almost automatic.

A final irony, you might think that with all your effort, experience, sacrifice and study, this will enrich your work. Nothing could be further from the truth, if you put yourself in the work it simply will not fly. There will always be an audience for tawdry human interest stories and some may even enjoy the soaps, but in Art this has no place. The work will have no real value unless you remove yourself completely from it. Shouldn’t be too hard for you to do at this point as you are certainly sick of yourself by now, not to mention all the humiliation and embarrassment suffered, the shame, or possibly your just worn out. Of all of these, the worn-out part will play the smallest role as in a way you will have found a little tree of life which will be a source of renewal. Well, there you have it, the keys to the kingdom. Alas, I have told you everything now. The most important point is that you will eventually love the craft and the process for what it is and not for what it will do for you. So, now as a grandmaster, every day it’s just a matter of getting up and churning out masterpieces, right. Well no actually if my math is correct, 1st stage 15… yeah, 50 years total, and then you get to produce images occasionally that are not totally ridiculous. Oh yaw, now you’re a great photographer…sort of.

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