As of lately there has been a ton of negativity in our photography community and
I think this is the best time to talk about helping one another.
Sometimes I feel as if I am in the minority of helping other photographers, or those wanting to be photographers, no questions asked.
I don't care if a photographer lives right next door to me and needs help. I don't look at them as competition, I look at them as a friend who has a question and just needs a little guidance.
When I started my business in 2011, I knew nothing; absolutely nothing. I made a ton of mistakes along the way, too. I now look back at those mistakes and cringe. I started out with a Canon point-and-shoot, but quickly realized "this is not going to cut it". A month later, I bought my first DSLR. I didn't get to manual shooting for another 6 months. Once another photographer helped me by telling me what I was doing wrong, it was a whole new ball game. I also have to say she did not sugar-coat what I was doing wrong, and that was the best thing she ever did. I see many photographers get defensive, say not so nice things or even leave groups because someone pointed out that they made a mistake or they could have done better.
Constructive criticism is the process of offering valid and well-reasoned opinions about the work of others, usually involving both positive and negative comments, in a friendly manner rather than an oppositional one. In collaborative work, this kind of criticism is often a valuable tool in raising and maintaining performance standard.
I would rather have someone tell me plainly what I am doing wrong or how to improve, instead of sugar-coating it or flat -out lying to me. I am an avid learner. I love to learn new things everyday. I also love to teach the things I learn. Why would I keep valuable knowledge from others just wanting to learn like me?
When I started out, the only thing I ever wanted was an in-person mentor. I learned very fast that it would not be possible where I live. I was turned down left and right, and then would see these other photographers set up work shops for "mommy" photographers.
Why was it such a crime to want to know how my camera worked? How running a business works?
Right then and there I set out on a mission to change the standard! I never wanted another photographer to hear the word "NO!" I started a page called "Confessions of a Photography Lover". Myself and another photographer from MN monitored it. It quickly grew, and it was very hard to manage, with tons of questions and beautiful portraits being posted daily, sometimes hourly. For my own sanity and the sanity of other photographers looking for help I started a private group. In this group we never say "no"; we want everyone to grow and learn. This group has evolved into one of the safest learning places I have seen. We keep negativity to a minimum, and help any one who asks for it.
So here is my challenge to you: step back for a second and look at the whole picture. How much would it really hurt your business to mentor or help another local photographer? How many faces are in this world to photograph? Let's work together and make this industry stronger and just better.
Stop the negativity and help one another!
I asked my photographer colleagues to give me feedback on how I have helped them, here are their answers:
Billie Jo Morar
You have helped me learn more about photography and the different aspects of the business. You have made me understand what makes a picture good and what makes it a memorable moment in time. You have also helped me to learn to have self-esteem in myself. I haven't always had a good view on myself but through your photos I have learned that I should not only appreciate the things I like but be more accepting of the things I want to change.
Eva has helped me grow as a photographer in several generous ways. She has spent her own personal time teaching me how to design a storyboard in Photoshop; explaining each step in detail for me. She has helped me with multiple image edits, and even went the extra step to edit an image I took, by herself to show me how she would do it. Eva has helped me business-wise also. I am brand new and have had many questions including: when should I start charging, how should I set my rates, how do I make contracts and model releases. She has gone above and beyond to answer each question with personal experience, advice, links to websites, and links to her personal documents. My favorite part of getting Eva's help/advice is that she doesn't tell me what I have to do or "should" do. She tells me what her experience and opinion is, but doesn't say it's the only way or right way. Thank you Eva, for all of your kindness, help, time, and of course, your blunt honesty You have helped me step out of my shell a little and put myself out there, but also keep grounded and ask for help when I needed it.
Oh how you have truly helped me. When I first began here in Korea I was met with nothing but pure anger from other photographers. No one wanted to help me. I had my husband’s support, and one good photographer friend. I continued my online photography tutorials and classes. Once I found the confessions group I knew I had it... an honest place I could share and get good critique from people who knew what they were talking about. And not just my images but on business in general. Since joining this group you, Eva have given me advice on pricing, how to beef up my style, where to look for websites for my own business as well as how to brand and package myself. Most of all the greatest thing you have done for me is shown me the power of prints. I am no longer a shoot and burn photographer. Prints are what my clients love and the difference of quality from my prints versus what they get from the store printing here is above and you can see it in their face. Lately, I have been working on my blog skills as you have people post. And though I am not ready to share just yet... I know I will be in the short future. I am diligently working on tying in my love for photography with a blog about my mom’s visit with her grandkids that live literally on the other side of the world. I can’t wait. You have been a true inspiration and I can’t wait to learn more from you and the confessions group.
Eva has helped me a great deal in how to structure my pricing, and run a profitable business. She is very direct and forthcoming with advice, rather than giving the vague answers like I've been given so many times from others. She has walked me thorough setting up packages and answered all my questions. She is genuinely interested in helping others run a viable business.
What photographers are saying about Confessions:
What I have gotten from Confessions is, firstly, friendship. Encouragement, technical assistance, productive constructive criticism, confidence, "permission" from others in the biz to be myself and not succumb to fad-photography. I've learned about shooting RAW, I've changed my workflow to mainly use Lightroom (yay!), I've learned of lots of resources...mainly thinking about Michael Willem's Speedlighter site. There's always someone around to bounce ideas off of or to ask questions of...and most members are always willing to help!
Pam Tarr Western
Love this group! I have seen a very big improvement in my work...business is picking up too. I'm so great full. Thank you!
Kelly Kirksey Fisk
I've met some amazing people in this group that I hope I'm friends for life with.
LeAnn Burton Rehm
I'm learning that there is sooooo much more to learn than I even thought there was. However I am glad that I am figuring that out. People talk about things I have never heard of and I feel like it is helping me. I want to set myself apart from the other local photogs and I think I am headed that way with the help of this group. I'm glad that everyone is honest without being mean or sugar coating it.
This group has given me a safe space to ask about business practices and get advice from other real world photogs who all want to help each other. The positivity in this group is amazing! I have also gotten valuable feedback on my work, which has helped me become a stronger photographer. Lastly, the sense of community helps me to deal with the challenges that I face sometimes. This industry can be so hard and we need a safe space to vent and share!
Tammy Roede Murray
This group has offered a constructive environment to get feedback, help others learn and just vent about our industry. I find this group has an understanding of the fact there is more than one way to make something happen in Photoshop and that we all have our own ways of running our businesses. It’s great to have a positive set of admins/admin as they set the tone for the group....this has NOT been my overall experience with photography groups and have left several recently due to some of these issues.
And nothing speaks louder that images! Check out the amazing growth of photographers in Confessions!
Find her on Facebook here!
And last but not least, myself. I may help out many photographers, but in return others have also taught me and led me to where I am today. The first image is my very first paid session in 2011. I loved it so much, but now looking back, I see everything I could have done better. The second image is just from this past Friday. I love photography with all my heart. I am an artist and I love to use my camera to tell a story.
This is what happens when photographers work together to better themselves, to better the industry. So learn to say yes! Try to help at least one other artist a day! Don't shut down to new photographers - they are us circa when we just started. Think of all the questions that you had when you started out - they are you! Lets help instead of making it harder or even worse for someone else.
Want to check out Confessions? Find us all here!
All images are ©Little Wishes Photography, Lexi Green Photography, K Danner Photography and Grape Soda Photograpy