On the day of my new camera arrival, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to post about the industry.
Listen, I'm not a professional quite yet. In fact, I have a long way to go before I get to where I truly want to be with my photos. I'm accepting of that and I'm willing to work hard and save hard to get there. So when I talk about 'the industry', I don't want you all to think that I know everything! With all that said, here it goes:
In today's world, if you own a DSLR camera, or even an iPhone, you can label yourself as a photographer. Personally, I think it takes a little more than a nice camera to acquire that label, but that is a whole different blog post. Regardless, there are a ton of us out there. I mean just Facebok search "Photography" and prepare to watch your eyes explode with search results. Facebook pages are free so it's not that hard to start up your own "business", I'm telling the truth because that's exactly how I started! I remember publishing my page and thinking to myself how humiliating my work was compared to others. The more experience I get, the more confident I get. However, no matter how accomplished I feel after a shoot, I always come back home to compare my work to professionals. Last week, I shared an article by a local Richmond photographer Katie Nesbitt on how you should never compare your "beginning" to someone else's "middle" (You can read the article here) and it really opened my eyes. When I take a look at my absolute favorite photographers, they are all in the mid-30's, late 20's with established businesses and I begin to feel better. I'm only 21 (almost 22!) and I still have a ton of years left to grow as a photographer.
It's a tough world out there, and an even tougher one as a photographer. I recently joined a private group on Facebook with over 30,000 professional photographers at my disposal. It's so refreshing to see such established photographers sharing advice, giving constructive and polite criticism, and generally helping people who are still wandering around this industry. I just wish that every photographer was that way. Unfortunately, that's not the case. You have people that will criticize your work and bash your business model, who talk badly about you behind your back, etc. I hate it; I got into photography because I enjoyed it and it challenged me to push myself creatively. Whenever I hear that negativity I try very hard to ignore it but it gets pretty difficult. I always strive to be open and friendly with anyone who asks for advice about photography because that's what was done for me. SO much of what I know about my camera came from my older cousin Kristin (shout out to you Kristin, love ya!). She taught me the basis of shutter speed, aperture, ISO, etc, and just those few tips have taken me above and beyond. Everyone needs a mentor or some friendly advice but....
ON THE OTHER HAND, there is a dark side to every story... I'm going to tell you all about an experience I had a few months back as a learning tool only. This is no way bashing this person or this entire post would have been voided.
A few months ago, I received an email from a complete stranger who wanted to do a family session. I was thrilled to be meeting new clients so I scheduled her right away! We had a lovely shoot with her, her husband, and little boy. Throughout the entire session, she kept asking me about photography, lighting, my camera model, my camera lens, etc. I didn't think twice because like I said before, I enjoy telling others about what I do because I love it so much! No sooner than I got home, I got a message saying she had purchased my exact camera model and lens and also received an invitation to like her Facebook page. I quote, verbatim "What do I need to set my camera on to make my photos look like yours"? Now, I'm all for everyone starting their own photography page but it being THE NIGHT OF our session was a blatant disregard for my business and my work.
With all that being said, sharing is caring but it's also very easy to for someone to try and take advantage of everything you've built your business on. However, there's a way to go about giving advice and answering questions so that you don't have to come off as rude and egotistical.
I know this post was a little all over the place but there's just a few things about being a photographer that go further than the clients see. If you actually read this entire post, I want you to take one thing from this entry:
All photographers are after the same thing: creating the most beautiful images and hoping others to find inspiration in their work. So why feel the need to put others down who are chasing that dream? And if you aren't quite at that "perfect image" yet, keep trying! It's a dog eat dog industry out there but everyone has a unique advantage to their work.. they aren't YOU!