We had the good fortune of connecting with Randal Ford and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Randal, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
When I was in high school, I was a 400m sprinter. So naturally, when I first started my business, I sprung out the gates with fire and passion. I was running hot and intense. I dedicated every moment to the pursuit of my career which was helpful in gaining early momentum and traction. In a sense, the hard work and dedication I applied to my business felt natural because I was so passionate about my art and becoming successful at it. But the pace at which I was running was too fast and not sustainable. Slowly and over time, I’ve developed a better work-life balance that allows me to sustain my business without experiencing burn out. Because even doing something you love won’t be able to outlast exhaustion. The ‘Gary V’ hustle only works if it’s sustainable and fits within your value set. While that’s a highly individualized limit, my recommendation to business owners starting out is to keep in mind the long game and think about resiliency and sustainability when starting a business. Passion will only get you so far. So back to my short-lived career as a 400m sprinter. That race was short enough that I didn’t have to pace myself but long enough where I collapsed from exhaustion by the finish line. Later in life, a wise man said to me, ‘life is a marathon, not a sprint.’ At first, I didn’t buy it but as I’ve matured, personally and professionally, I’ve come to understand I need to transition from being a sprinter to a marathoner. It’s not easy for me, but slowing down has made me more efficient, productive, and allowed me the headspace to make more informed decisions and live a more balanced life.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
In 2006, I started my business as a freelance advertising photographer. Since then I’ve worked with major advertising agencies and clients all over the world. I’ve also had the privilege to photograph over 20 Texas Monthly covers and even a cover for Time Magazine. In 2015, I began to photograph animal portraits in studio which I slowly built into a unique collection of over a 150 fine art portraits. In 2018, Rizzoli New York published my fine art animal portraits worldwide in a book entitled, The Animal Kingdom. Since then, I’ve sold fine art limited edition prints from that series to collectors and interior designers across the world. And this Fall, Rizzoli New York will be publishing my second book entitled, Good Dog. The book will contain over 150 portraits of dogs, all photographed in studio and similar in aesthetics to my first book. One of the reasons my fine art is unique is because I’m one of only a few photographers in the world that have photographed so many animals in studio in a singular, timeless, aesthetic. But maybe what’s even more unique about about my work is that I aim for us to connect, emotional with these animals. What I find is the emotions we see in these animals are emotions that are within us. We anthropomorphize animals all the time, seeking to know them better in relation to our inner thoughts and feelings. I like to think of my work as engaged portraits but maybe its something else– a rare naked glimpse at the most mystical and elusive breed of all: ourselves. Have there been challenges along the way? Absolutely. The War of Art is real. I used to joke about the descriptive, a tortured artist, as I thought it was silly. But in a sense have come to believe that’s what we, as artists, might be plagued with. The only question is, is the battle worth it? My answer is an unequivocal yes.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My wife and kids. Without them, I’m not sure I would have ever figured out the importance of a balanced work-life. Without their love and support, my work is meaningless.