Let's be honest, writing for a photography website, you notice that a lot of us photographers like to gripe at each other. Hey, you're more than welcome to express yourself as you wish since this is the internet and all. Although, I wanted to do a short positive post about how and why we should be a little nicer to each other. Sometimes it equals more resources and more money. Reason enough for you?
If you have tried your hand at independent professional professional photography at all, you have quickly discovered it isn’t easy… especially on your own. There are no job hours, there are no guarantees, there are no benefits, no job security, etc etc etc. Most importantly, there is nobody around to tell you what to do every day except the grumbling in your stomach, the roof over your head, and creative the passion in your heart.
I feel like in the past (before the strong prevalence of social media), commercial shooters viewed each other as merely the competition (for the most part). Sure we would meet up at the local trade association mixers and chat a bit, many of us have done it, but you could practically smell the resentment of each other. Although, I feel like social tools, such as Twitter, have allowed us to freely communicate and share with each other. It has opened up doors to a greater understanding and appreciation of the battles we face in our careers.
Here are a few reasons why I think you should go out of your way to befriend / be good to your photo community:
- Information resources: Need a certain type of location or person to cast in a pinch? Don’t know where to buy a certain type of prop or piece of equipment? Gear fail last minute and need to borrow something specific? How about someone to hold your lights when you don’t have budget for an assistant or doing a personal shoot? I’ve definitely reached out to my photography friends for all of these things one time or another.
- A friendly shoulder: Listen, this lifestyle isn’t always easy. The hours can be long and some of our friends with 9-5 jobs don’t quite understand our lifestyle. It’s nice to have fellow creatives to ask personal/work advice from, share war stories, and even critique your newest work.
- Problem solving: Lost all of your images on a shoot due to a bad card? Crazy unreasonable clients? No worries, hit up your buddies to help you figure out the best ways to handle a situation. Want to create a certain effect in post? I have definitely reached out to some of my buddies to figure out how to do it.
- Job Sharing: “Hey, one of my clients just offered me a great job for easy money, but I’ll be out of town… want the job?” Yes please! It’s a two way street. I've passed on AND received thousands of dollars in projects this year alone because we all kept it in the photo family. This is a real and awesome perk for sure.
- Clients To Avoid / To Approach: Oh you know, the clients that don't pay or maybe the one you've always wanted but not sure how to reach. Photo friends have warned me of potential bad clients from their experiences and have hooked me up with the email / phone numbers of clients/magazines I've wanted to shoot for.
- An Honest Photo Critique: Because my mom can only tell me how awesome I am so much. Just kidding, my mom uses the word "rad". In all seriousness, you want a real take on how to improve an image? Go to your photography buddies, not friends. Friends will want to say how great it is, but photographers that you're friendly with will give you honest input. I personally found that posting your images for critique on forums where you don't know anybody personally leads to.... well... mixed results.
- Karma: Because, it works man.
I try and set up mixers with local shooters through my twitter/Facebook/blog. I’ve done a few in LA and DC so far and I am very thankful for the photographers I have met. It doesn’t matter what level of success you may have obtained, we ALL can improve ourselves and our careers with the help from some photo friends. I personally have been repeatedly surprised by the resources and information some of my amateur photographer friends have shared and have directly benefitted from it.
Sure, we live in an age where there are photo forums and photo sharing sites, but that’s not necessarily what I am talking about here. Meet some folks face to face. Buy them a drink. Share their stories. Exchange contact information. It’s easy to talk online, but as my dad used to say, the best meetings are done in person. We are all facing this competitive uphill battle together. It’s always nice when someone is out there watching your back!
Would love to hear your personal experiences and input on this! Spread the love.
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By the way, if you're on the east coast of the United States, I've been hired by the team at Living Social to teach an Intro To DSLR Photography class at their new Washington DC live event facility 918F during the weekends in January 2013. Space is limited and it's only on sale until next Friday, January 3, 2013. You can also gift it to your favorite amateur photographer. I did this class for over 500 people last year and everybody seemed to really enjoy.