14-year-old budding photographer Erin wants to pursue a career in photography and filmmaking, so she asked the always inspirational Ted Forbes to share the most important lesson he’s learned as a photographer. This brilliant video is his response.

Right from the start, Ted does not sugarcoat what it means to develop and maintain a career as a photographer or filmmaker. It’s hard, he says, because while he objectively needs firemen when his house is burning down and a doctor when he gets sick, many would argue that we don’t need photographers in the same way.

“When the economy gets tight, when budgets get restrained, [the arts] are usually the first thing to get cut,” explains Forbes, “because they’re not viewed as necessities, they’re viewed as luxuries.”

Erin’s letter to Ted

But Ted didn’t just spend 7 minutes beating Erin over the head with a wiffle ball bat named reality. After explaining why photography and the arts are often undervalued, and how that makes a career as a creative person difficult, he gets to the part about his most important lesson.

Never ever forget why you started in the first place.

As soon as you forget how fun it was in the beginning, how much joy photography or filmmaking or some other creative pursuit brought you when you were at the top of the hourglass Ted draws in the video, you’ll lose that something that will carry you through all the difficult times.

Watch the full video up top to hear Forbes expand on this golden nugget of wisdom. And then, if you haven’t already, take a minute to remember why it is you started taking photos in the first place.

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