Today … October 3, 2013… it is official. I have OFFICIALLY read one too many blogs or posts by bully photographers.
I cannot. read. one. more. venting session from a photog who is “appalled” that there are so many people who think they can “pick up a camera and call themselves a professional photographer.” As if it’s so hard to believe that people have dreams and need to start somewhere and … *gasp*… might make a few mistakes along the way.
Before I get too fired up … for those of you who don’t know my own photography path, here’s the short version….
I did not come out of the womb with a camera strap around my neck asking the doctor to say “cheese.”
What I DID do is find a love for photographs at an early age … and not the science behind an amazing photograph, but the emotion it created. And because of that, I was always trying to capture “moments” with my cheap-o camera and would give them to family/friends as gifts – and felt fulfilled when I saw the emotions it would bring out of someone. I have always loved that. And one day on a long walk – my husband helped me realize that I had the talent, the eye and most importantly a passion for that – and he encouraged me to buy my first DSLR and bought me a class to learn how to use it. After shooting for a couple of months – I had this insane fire inside of me that was screaming, “This is what you were meant to do. Figure out every way you can to pursue being great at it … and make it happen.”
And here I am… having pursued, and hoping to never stop pursuing.
So no… my degree is not in photography. And I don’t think a client has ever cared that I don’t have that paperwork. But what I DO have is a passion for it and a desire to learn more every day … and I just discovered that a little later in life than maybe some of my peers.
So as I sit back and watch these photographers bash these poor people who might be trying to find their passion, or get away from a job that they hate, or to try to make a living for their family and start somewhere like I had to … it’s driving me insane. Everyone’s story is not the same and these photog bullies are assuming that it is. These bullies are taking out their own frustrations about the challenges of being in this industry on an innocent dreamer… and the common theme is that they think this challenges our “art.”
But come on. Really? What would you say if Maya Angelou publicly blasted anyone who tried to become a writer because they weren’t doing it with a good enough pen? Or what if you heard a top-ten country singer was walking down the streets of Nashville bashing the guy playing his beat up guitar on the corner because he is trying to make it and has “no idea what it takes?” You’d probably disagree with it. So this whole thing about “protecting the art” feels like a smokescreen to the real fear… which is feeling threatened that the $50.00 session+CD newbies will take away their clients because they haven’t done enough to bring value so that they will stay.
Here’s what I say….
BRING ON the new photographers. Here’s the door – walk IN it. Please. I welcome you. Because 1.) I really hope that you can experience the path that I have and can find the happiness that I have found in doing this job – despite the rocky road it takes to get here. And if you don’t, hopefully it’s one step toward finding the right direction for you. And 2.) New photographers = more competition = me being reminded that I cannot be stagnant in my approach to this industry. WE ALL have to find ways to better ourselves, our craft and our business approaches. That benefits US, which in turn … most importantly – benefits our amazing clients. And that’s GOOD for the industry and for our clients who deserve the best when we are capturing their memories.
Will all of these new photographers make it? Of course not. Some will realize that it’s not for them or that they might not want to put in the financial commitment or time that it takes to be successful (which is OK!) But why does anyone feel the responsibility to try to knock them down before they can even experience it for themselves? On the flip side… some of those people WILL find success… or at least be willing to stay on the path until they find it… and now you, Bully, have wasted your time trying to eliminate that competition instead of creating ways to make sure you’re staying ahead of it. So now what?….
Bottom line… can we all just focus on making ourselves better, and leaning on each other for positive reinforcement? I’m not saying that you have to give away free advice… we all know that our time is incredibly valuable. But the next time you want to bash someone who has a “naive” question or who doesn’t understand what equipment they should buy…. remember that you had a dream once too. And at one point you had no idea what direction you wanted to go or how to get there. And just because you’ve “figured it out” doesn’t give you a microphone to bash the person who hasn’t… especially when you don’t know their story.
I found my inspiration – and will ALWAYS find it – by seeing photographers who go about their business ethically, have clients that are loyal to them, encourage other photographers to be great, and deliver unbelievable images. Photogs like that are the people that are REALLY protecting our craft. So new photographers – if another bully already slammed a door on you – there’s always another one opened by one of these inspirational photographers. Find it… and don’t be afraid to come on in… there ARE people that will embrace you.
(Just a little shout out to Jill Serrano Photography for your non-bullyness, and pro-awesomeness. May you write a book one day so that everyone can take a page from it)