Excessive Self Promoting Ruins Reputations

I think the world of photography these days is becoming more and more a breeding ground for shameless self promotion. Photographers are trying to think of more and more creative ways to offer something that the photographer down the street can't offer. Some of this is natural business growth and that is fine. The facebook photography groups are littered with "Like my Page" posts and people trying to do more and more work for less and less money. I'm not here to rant about the downfall of the artistic industry or hate on the location that I work in (trust me it happens everywhere not just Portland). My main objective with this post is to stimulate in your minds the thought of what a collaborative community of artists looks like. In my experience I think this is working great already in many aspects. When I need wardrobe or makeup for my shoots I collaborate with people who can help me with that and likewise I am willing to help others in their endeavors. But I feel like the initiative of helpfulness stops when it's another photographer in need. 

I think photographers are so worried about the "competition" or the thoughts of losing prospective clients that we miss opportunities daily to help fellow artists in need. I believe wholeheartedly that the photographers who make it big in this competitive field are the ones willing to sacrifice to help others around them. Share other photographer's images on your page even if you think you couldn't shoot that shot as well. Share images of lighting setups and brands of equipment you buy because that will help a young photographer learn the ropes. Meet up with other creative people to talk shop. Allow people to intern, job shadow or even just watch you while you work. Post articles and tips on how things can be done better. Don't be a knowledge hoarder. Don't brag on your laundry list of experience and accomplishments (your work should speak for itself right?).  If you have something that can benefit the world then share it (and by share it I mean willingly and freely without paying money for a workshop or a book)!

There is no such thing as a "trade secret".

If I want to learn light setups, retouching methods, tips on posing or really any method on the earth, there is a book, workshop, video, training course or teacher who can tell me how that is done. Every photographer's interpretation is different. Some people like to overexpose a little, some like to underexpose. Some like to edit skin to a plastic perfection, others like to pull so much detail out of the skin that you are actually worried the model may have a skin condition vs a beautiful dose of summer freckles. The point is you could pull 5 photographers out a crowd, give them the same equipment and the same model and every photographer would come up with a totally different looking image. At the end of the day if people want to book you, they will book YOU, not somebody down the street. They will book you because they love your work, they love your personality and because they trust you.

Be a mentor. Be a sharer. Be open and willing to answer questions with no strings attached. I want to be remembered not just as a good photographer but as someone who cared for people. I am 5 years into my photographic career journey (a baby some may say). I do not attest to know everything about photography, but I know some things. And those things I am willing to share. I challenge you fellow photographers to do the same. I feel like I'm walking on egg shells asking certain people questions about their methods. Just remember you were not the first to do it and you won't be the last, you might as well be remembered as the mentor who helped someone grown rather than the information tightwad. 

It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently.
Warren Buffett


Popular Posts