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Paying It Forward

We all live in a world where it's easy to hide behind the relative anonymity of a computer screen and keyboard which, unfortunately, brings out the worst in some people. After reading a troll-ish response to someone in an online photography forum recently, I have a few things to say.

I think it's safe to say with 100% certainty, that there is not one professional well-known photographer who at some point didn't start from the beginning. Yes, some people may be born with a more innate talent than others, but they still have to practice their craft. Practice. Fail. Practice. Fail. Practice, practice, practice. One day the technique is perfected, and you begin to see improvement. Work hard to be the best you can be. Whatever your craft or profession. In terms of photography, not one of us picks up a camera one day and becomes a world-famous photographer the next. We all have to start somewhere: asking questions, learning from other photographers, reading books, watching videos, joining a photography club - the combinations are endless.

What does tear us down is those with shitty attitudes. You didn't come out of your mama's womb with a camera in hand and a "professional" career at age two. You worked hard (hopefully) to get where you are. You learned as you grew (both physically and mentally). Someone helped you along the way. Pay that forward and help someone else. You don't have to give them every bit of information or every trick-of-the-trade you've ever learned. But wouldn't the world be a better place if we help each other, rather than belittling someone for asking a question? Belittling someone accomplishes nothing other than to show how insecure and unprofessional you are. What are you so scared of?

So I have two messages: 

1. For up-and-coming photographers:

  • Don't be afraid to ask questions. The large majority of photographers are very nice people who LOVE to talk about photography. Don't let a few nasty ones scare you away from pursuing your craft.
  • Talk with people in online photography forums. Again, people love to talk about photography.
  • Take your camera off "AUTO" and learn the manual settings. These will become very important as you continue to learn.
  • Join a local photography club in your area. This is a great place to see what others are doing and to learn from others. 
  • Show your work to a professional photographer you trust (or a professional portfolio reviewer or college art professor) and really listen to their constructive critique. 
  • Do your research. Take classes, watch videos, read books or magazines, etc. Absorb as much as you can about your subject matter. 
  • Don't be afraid to ask questions. This has already been said, but it's very important. Everyone asks questions. Even professionals. 

2. For all photographers working with clients:

  • Carefully consider the image you present to your clients. And in this instance I don't mean the actual printed photograph. I mean the professional demeanor you're showing your clients. Call it your philosophy, your approach, your mindset ... whatever. Why on earth would a client hire someone with a bitter diva attitude, no matter how good their photos may be? Chances are, that photographer will be a nightmare to work with. Clients aren't stupid. Don't treat them that way.
  • There is always someone better at your craft than you, no matter who you are. Don't look at that as something to be scared of or bitter about. Look at it as a way to encourage you to work harder to improve your skills. 

No bitterness needed. 

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