The Truth About Gatekeeping in the Photo Industry

Gatekeeping in the photography industry is a hot topic, causing friction between younger and veteran photographers. It shapes how opportunities and resources are distributed, impacting your growth and success.

Coming to you from Justin Mott, this insightful video tackles the often-misunderstood concept of gatekeeping. Mott clarifies that true gatekeeping involves actively preventing others from accessing opportunities or resources based on trivial reasons. It’s not about withholding personal contacts or choosing not to lend out your camera. There is a difference between intentional exclusion from personal boundaries and constructive criticism.

Mott points out that some behaviors often labeled as gatekeeping are not actually so. Declining to share a Rolodex or refusing to shoot for someone doesn’t equate to gatekeeping. Instead, it’s about maintaining personal boundaries. Mott emphasizes that constructive criticism, based on experience and expertise, is vital for artistic growth. It’s not gatekeeping to critique photography that lacks emotion, effort, or ethics. Recognizing poor composition, bad lighting, or unethical practices isn’t about exclusion; it’s about upholding standards.

Expanding on this, Mott highlights the importance of maintaining high standards and integrity in your work. While it’s essential to support and learn from each other, recognizing and addressing poor-quality work is necessary. Not all photography is subjective; some work is just objectively bad. Mott encourages you to distinguish between legitimate gatekeeping and rightful critique, which is crucial for personal and professional development. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Mott.

Alex Cooke's picture

Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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