Why We Should Not Frown Upon Recycled Ideas and Advice

Why We Should Not Frown Upon Recycled Ideas and Advice

You may have seen certain ideas or advice circulate on Internet, that makes you say "but I already know this." So, why is it important to keep recycling ideas in this industry?

No doubt you have come across articles or YouTube tutorials that make you think that everyone should know this information already, however, while it is necessary to keep on developing and improving our knowledge, it's just as crucial to recognize that every day there are new people coming into this industry, both as hobbyists and as professionals, who have not had access to this pool of knowledge beforehand.

It is all too easy to disregard pieces of information as "old news" or things that may be considered common knowledge in our minds, however, at times we should take a step back and review how we ourselves started out on this photography journey. Nowadays more and more people are gaining access to affordable pieces of equipment that allows them to take part in this type of art, and consequently, the demand for education, be it regarding technical information or about photography as an expression of emotional, political, and social undertones, is naturally increasing, too.

With this industry becoming more inclusive, we should not underestimate the need and requests for educational resources. I am confident that you have seen, for example, social media posts where beginner photographers are asking questions or advice which may seem fairly obvious to yourself but are a completely mind-boggling experience to those who are new to photography. Common technical knowledge aside, there are also unwritten rules that seem to change over the course of time, and for those entering this industry, it may be a totally new experience. The same applies to actual regulation changes and the etiquette of approaching certain situations.

Photography book on a coffee table.

Both intentionally or not, it is all too easy to look down on those who are not as experienced. And, because there is such a vast collection of free educational resources available at the click of a button, it's also possible to wrongly assume that everyone coming into this industry should immediately be equipped with all this information. The issue that arises with having such an immense collection of educational resources available, is that it requires time to trawl through to arrive at the destination we intended to, and this also applies to those who have been in this industry for years and have felt hesitant to work on learning and self improvement.

So, although at times it may seem repetitive coming across similar ideas and concepts throughout your time in photography, the upside is that it's a sign of more and more people being able to gain access and joining in and thus diversifying the industry. How do you react to seeing people seeking advice or answers to what you consider common knowledge? Do you think access to more free resources online is diluting the information or is it overall empowering those who otherwise wouldn't be able to acquire it?

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4 Comments

Jordan McChesney's picture

I enjoy giving advice to people just getting into photography. I spend a lot of time on other sites critiquing photographs and giving basic advice like “be sure to level your horizon” or “ you should use a tripod when doing long exposures”. There’s nothing wrong with giving simple or “recycled” advice, I mean I’m sure every doctor learns the ropes at some point, but you don’t see people complaining about “oh my god, you’re teaching how to apply pressure to the wound? Everyone knows that”

That being said, when I’m teaching something I learned from a video, I usually post the video, to give credit... also to save myself time.

This way of thinking applies to locations as well. Any time I see someone say “*famous photographer* already shot this location” my immediate response is “so?” There’s nothing wrong with recycling locations to grow as a photographer.

Anyway, thanks for the article!

user-233725's picture

There's a lot of recycled free advice out there. It does repeat itself.

I can't help but think it has as much to do with filling blank space in web sites devoted to "free advice" as it does to anything else.

Nobody ever had an original thought.

William Howell's picture

I don’t think the free online tutorials and videos are diluting the integrity of the info, but it is unstructured.
So in my opinion I think to get the most out of free online content, you need to know the nomenclature of the photographic and video industries.
For instance, when I got my first mono block, I didn’t k ow I needed a baby pin and grip-head, heck I didn’t even know what they where, at the time. So I put my light on the c-stand gobo arm and the light just keeps drooping down, it just rotates back toward the ground.
The after much searching I found a video that showed me what I needed.
So yeah keep making the beginner videos too.

Larry Wynkoop's picture

I agree 100% We all start somewhere. I think it's great that someone can learn the basics through some online searches. It also gives everyone access to different points of view, rather than being locked into the viewpoint of one instructor or mentor. By considering varied opinions on the same topic, a beginner can think about the concepts involved and come to their own conclusions.

On the down side, sometimes people get a little loose with their language and to a beginner, this can be particularly confusing. For instance, I've heard people say that an image has "a lot of depth of field," when what they really mean is a "shallow depth of field." Overall though, I'm glad that we have such a vast pool of information to tap, from the most basic techniques to very specific and highly technical information. I take advantage of that on a regular basis, and it also provides a means for me pass along my own take on the basics to those just starting out.