As photographers, we are a creative bunch of people. We love the idea of getting together with other photographers over a long weekend and shooting enough photos to fill a hard drive. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a world of long weekends, rainbows, or unicorns. Photographers are notoriously busy and they are doing a lot less of the picture-taking and more of the business-making.
There are a few character traits that creative people are known for and these can be positives and negatives. Knowing that we are in the same boat, the same industry, with the same goal of being successful, it’s time for photographers to know how to support one another. We live in a society that lives and breathes competition between businesses and that can be fatal to your self-esteem and your own personal photography business. So how do we go about supporting one another if we all have the same end goal?
1. Find Inspiration In Someone Else’s Work
There is a key difference between learning and mimicking. You can go anywhere online and find photography different than yours and you may like it or love it. Finding inspiration in someone else’s work is a completely viable option to help inspire yourself. Even if you went to the same exact location and stood where that photographer stood, there is no way you would have the same results as that person and you should never strive to do what they did. Be inspired to do more, try new things, and add different elements to the same style of photography.
2. Creation Appreciation
It’s about time, as photographers, that we open our mouths, or use your keyboards more likely, to start appreciating other photographers work. Tell them, express to them, that their work has influenced you in some way, shape, or form. That’s all their after, anyway. They want to make people feel something. That’s the most well-known way to use photography as an art form. Expressing to someone that you enjoy their work might be just the boost someone needs to give them confidence when they feel like giving up. We’ve all been there. Or maybe this solidifies to you that you are ready to dabble in portrait photography and were inspired by their work or their story. In contrast, the same gain can be made when you appreciate others’ work and clearly understand that now you officially are not cut out for newborn photography. Everyone wins with creation appreciation.
3. Embrace Other Styles
We are so surrounded by images that we can often be turned off if we see images that are not like our own. We all fall into a niche or a few niches and then fall into a style of our own that we have cultivated and worked so hard on to produce and replicate that we sometimes lose sight of other styles that are valuable too. As a photographer, we have to consciously make the decision to try new styles, learn about new styles, and not get stuck in the self-absorbed rut of our own style being the only option. Embrace the differences, the changes, the value in other art as well!
4. Share your Struggles & Successes
It might be hard to swallow the shame or embarrassment of really bombing a photo shoot or how you didn’t do your taxes correctly the first time because those are mortifying and truly humiliating experiences. However, those are invaluable lessons for you and for many other photographers out there. We have to make an effort to help each other by not allowing the same mistakes to happen to someone else. We cannot get caught up in our egos and wish for other photographers to fail because we may have failed ourselves at one point. This attitude hurts the entire industry, yourself included. Sharing your successes is also difficult. You found an amazing new tool or layering technique in photoshop that brought your photography to life! Finally! Why should you have to share your trade secret? Because your secrets matter, your work will grow anyway, and you can help someone else bring their photography to life as well. Plus, the good karma will come back to you in due time.
Sharing ideas, techniques, tips, and even constructive criticism are absolutely crucial to helping the photography industry. Professional sculptors or writers were not made by trotting down a golden lane of mistake-free glory. Photography doesn’t work that way either. Creative people have to start, continue, and maintain and open communication chain of helpful conversation no matter what stage of the business you might be in. Odds are, someone has been there before and it’s not fun watching an aspiring photographer quit and give up knowing that your help may have changed their path. It’s all about the give and take. You will never be successful without the help of others and it’s your duty to pay that back to those who will someday aspire to be like you.