John Craig, Professional Photographer, on Favorite Books & Reading Habits
Today’s interview is with John Craig, who has more than 25 years of experience as a professional photographer. He’s the owner of John Craig Media, where he creates different types of content for branding and storytelling. John’s also Head Sherpa at Elizabeth Craig Photography – his and his wife’s photography business, specialized on romantic and editorial-style portraits.
I discovered John and Elizabeth thanks to Going Deep With Aaron’s podcast. I don’t remember exactly how I got there, since it’s not a recent episode, but I do remember that one of their projects caught my attention. I’m talking about The Beauty Within Foundation, a foundation they started with the mission to empower women and recognize their beauty through photography and storytelling.
From our interview, you’ll find out more about his favorite book, how they influenced him, and his reading habits (you’ll also find John’s contact links at the end). Enjoy!
What’s your favorite book and why? Business and non-business, if possible.
On the Shortness of life by Seneca. This is the book that I recommend to everybody. It’s everything you will need to make it in life & business. It is by far a complete business self-motivational book all-in-one. The best thing is that it’s 2,000-year of time-tested wisdom.
Was there a moment, specifically, when something you read in a book helped you? Can you tell me about it?
That is hard to pinpoint into only one answer. Every book has at least that one sentence that I will carry with me forever. In Peter Thiel’s book, he asks the question “What important truth do very few people agree with you on?” If you can answer that question it will give you the direction on how & where to grow your life & business to the next level.
What books had the biggest impact on you? (perhaps changed the way you see things, dramatically changed your career path)
Without a doubt: Seneca’s On the Shortness of Life. I am paraphrasing here: The opening of the book starts off with the sentence, “Life is long if you know how to use it.”
Here is my second favorite: “It is not that we have so little time but that we lose so much… The life we receive is not short but we make it so; we are not ill provided but use what we have wastefully.”
What I have taken out of this book is to enjoy life and to enjoy being of service to others. That is how business grows & the secret to personal happiness.
What books would you recommend to youngsters interested in your professional path? Why? (no number limit here)
Photography is an ever-expanding field, yet the fundamentals never change, also this is where many fall short.
Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson is the book that I recommend to anybody starting off.
You can probably guess by now that I recommend “On the Shortness of Life” by Seneca. The fundamentals never change, even after 2,000 yrs.
I’m interested in finding out more about your reading habits. How often do you read? In what format?
I read two books a month on average. I use my local library to feed my addiction. I like paper books the best, it is simply the feel of holding a book that I love the best. I also keep my Moleskine journal next to me while reading for note-taking. This is how you can get your Ph.D. in life if you become a good note taker.
How do you make time for reading?
I have no direct answer for that. Watch less TV?
Do you take notes or have any other technique for conquering the torrent of information?
Moleskine journal; it worked for Picasso & Hemingway. There is no need to reinvent the wheel. Writing your thoughts/notes down in paper & pen just seems to keep it right there in my waking consciousness.
How do you choose what books to read next?
BrainPickings.com & New York Times books section helps me a lot. Also, I find one book leads me to the next book, reading in itself is a path to discovery. Oh, yes, friends. Your entrepreneurial friends are readers; ask them what they are currently reading.
Do you prioritize those recommended by certain people? Is there anyone that you consider a book-recommendations guru?
The only book, or should I say author, that takes priority is Haruki Murakami. He is a Japanese novelist that takes me into the next world. His style is surreal. Check it out. Start with Kafka on the Shore.
Last question: what book are you currently reading and what are you expecting to gain from it?
Currently reading Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson: What am I expecting from it? The same things I expect from every book that I read: to change my life for the better.
Links where you can follow John Craig or find out more about his projects:
Books mentioned by John Craig in this interview:
- Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
- On the Shortness of Life by Seneca
- Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel, Blake Masters
- Understanding Exposure, Fourth Edition: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera by Bryan Peterson
- Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson