There are more photographers playing in the field today than ever before. That old adage about anyone who picks up a DSLR, right? But trying to outdo each other or undercut each other isn’t doing anyone any favors. In fact, we believe it is doing the opposite.
A sense of community
In general, being a photographer is a bit of a lonely job. Many photographers we know are a one-man (or woman) show. You are doing everything for yourself — the bookings, the invoicing, the marketing, the day to day running of your business, as well as the actual photography and editing. You’re often so busy running your business, that perhaps you don’t always get time to enjoy your business.
Being a member of a photographic community can put you in touch with your peers, to discuss issues, problems and concerns, your wins and even new technology. Perhaps there is a better and quicker way to do something that is eating into your precious time.
Then there is the connection with like-minded people. When you can understand what each other is going through in an encouraging and supportive environment. Perhaps you are fairly new to the industry and need some constructive criticism or advice? Even on those days when you might be second-guessing your own choices on a shoot. Sometimes having another set of eyes can help.
Even we must confess to sometimes being a bit of a loner and we all like to be in the driver’s seat, from time to time. But collaborating with other creatives can be enriching and inspiring. Whether that is models, designers, hair and makeup or other photographers. They will see things differently than you. These people can have ideas that can inspire and drive an idea in a whole new direction that sparks passion and imagination.
Pooling resources and gear can also be a fantastic idea, too. You can often accomplish more with a wider range of tools, props, costumes, backdrops and gear. Try having ‘guest’ photographers visit your studio, you can frequently learn as much from them as they do from you.
Obviously, choose people who you feel you can work well with, or perhaps it is someone whose style, techniques or ideas you admire. To watch them in action and to pick up a tip or two from them, it is often a two-way process.
Mentoring is another option, being a part of a larger photographic community allows you to learn new genres and techniques not previously tried. You can then, in turn, try to mentor other photographers, newbies and old hats alike. Someone may have been in the industry for years, but perhaps have never tried their hand at still life or portraits or light painting. Sometimes having a fresh idea can inspire someone to get outside of their comfort zone.
We are always happy to answer questions about camera gear, shooting styles, how we made or where we got a prop, gear, location. Questions on lighting and editing. One-on-one mentoring sessions in person or online, as well as workshops and classes, are also a great idea to give and receive. It costs nothing to share. More and more we are the go-to people to ask about various topics or our opinion on gear, software, editing and such.
In turn, we like being able to learn and be encouraged by others in the industry as well. So we also attend workshops and classes by other photographers for this exact reason, to learn and grow our own skill set. Learn a new approach or try a different genre. We feel the more we learn, the better we can be as photographers.
Learning and inspiring
When we are continually learning, we are also continually being inspired. That inspiration can be contagious. In a larger group of like-minded people, you can encourage and support each other.
Even during a pandemic year, we all spent time tried to learn and inspire through our photo challenges, and large online communities like Photofocus, to encourage people to push past their own boundaries and explore and learn new things.
Networking and connections
Something else that’s a bonus is the networking and connections that can be achieved from getting to know other local photographers. We all know photographers from loads of different genres.
You may get asked to shoot a wedding or event which you don’t want to do, but through your contacts and connections, you may know of other photographers that do and you can recommend them. As you know them and their work, you can then be confident in recommending them. In turn, people will recommend you for work, classes or workshops too.
It really can be a win-win situation as opposed to the alternative. We know that there can be some fairly nasty people who feel the only way they can get ahead is to put down their competitors, rather than look to what they can offer that differs from other photographers. Often when it comes to finding and working with photographers it is through word-of-mouth, if you are only being negative about your industry, people may see you as being the negative component and go elsewhere.
When you enjoy the industry and the people in it, your passion shows. It draws in clients and opens up possibilities you may not have been exposed to without networking and connections. It’s a small world out there, so jump on board and enjoy it.