Some of you might not consider what you do as art, but as a photographer, you're an artist. A lot of small pieces and parts come together to make your images what they are, and that process of deciding everything from the model, to the clothing, the lens choice, to the lighting, is an artistic one. Many genres of photography are heavily dependent on other artists; portrait photographers need models and more than likely a makeup artist and stylist to bring their vision to life. Networking is key to our work in order to meet people that we trust to help us craft our images.
Killing Your Ego
When I started to meet other photographers, I instantly was in awe of just how much talent there was. More importantly, I realized that what we do isn't necessarily a competition. Generally, photographers will get picked for a variety of things that make them special like their style, vision, personalty, etc. Working alongside other photographers that you know in your community will open your eyes to what other people are doing and how they work. The same goes for working with new models and makeup artists. As you open your view to different techniques and include more people in your work, your work will improve. More than likely, nothing but positive change for both yourself and the people you work with will come of it.
Improving Your Craft
Photography is an ongoing process for all of us. I look back on images I made not but six months ago and see huge room for improvement. I will likely have the same feeling towards what I shot this past weekend. As artists, we are always learning and our style is ever developing. While I have found a consistent aesthetic for my work, new lighting techniques or post processing will continue to shape my work for the better. Working with other photographers will help you discover new things in every aspect of your work that will help you grow. Having worked with more and more makeup artists this year than ever before, I have realized just how much of an impact that the stylists, hair, and makeup artists have on the final image. Even in portfolio building shoots, we can all benefit.
Surrounding Yourself with Creatives
I'm a firm believer in surrounding yourself with friends that better you as a person. The same goes for your work as a photographer. I find myself constantly being pushed to improve as I see my friends and colleagues post new work on a daily basis. Again, it isn't a competition, but inspiration. It might spark an idea that you want to try, or push you into a different direction stylistically. Even if you're just bouncing ideas off of your friends, they'll have much better input that can help you refine your ideas rather than just "I like that, or I don't like that," like what you might get from a friend or family member outside of the industry.
They key to growing as an artist is to collaborate and share. Even as a landscape or travel photographer, you can improve by traveling with other photographers or bloggers. Having like minded people in my life that are heading towards a common goal of creating incredible work is important to my creative process and who I am as a person. If you've spent your career as a photographer avoiding everyone else, trying to guard your secrets to success or what have you, I strongly encourage you to get out and meet some people. You never know what you might learn.