Developing Helpful Relationships with Fellow Photographers
Professional photography is a very difficult business. When a photographer’s livelihood, career, income and reputation is on the line, emotions come into play. We are human, after all. The competitive fire should burn in our hearts…the need to want to become the very best photographer we can be. We should use that fire to further our selves and the photography industry; to learn, grow, practice and reach higher than we thought possible. When we use that emotion for negative purposes, however, we do a great injustice to our fellow photographers and to our own endeavors.
Imagine an island where you could not interact with another photographer or their work. Our imaginations can only go so far without stimulation and inspiration. The limitations of your photography equipment can’t be explored if you don’t even know how high you can go. Artists have relied on exploring and furthering their talents by collaborating with fellow artists, either directly or indirectly.
Competition is a Photographer’s Life-Blood
Competition has been fueling photography and allowing our imaginations to create previously unthinkable imagery. Without competition, photographic technology wouldn’t be where it is today. You see an incredible image and you try to emulate the style or look in your own way. You see a new level of image attainable with the same camera equipment you use.
Unfortunately, a negative by-product of competition is jealousy. Jealousy, leaves no space for improvement for either the viewer or the presenter. Don’t be jealous of your fellow photographer’s work; instead, be excited to learn from them. When you see good work and assign negative emotions to it, your own creative process gets annihilated and you lose motivation and respect for your own work. The worst possible outcome, from work that deserves praise none-the-less.
“Less-professional” photographers may think that nit-picking on someone else’s work is productive. It’s not. It’s a less obvious form of jealousy. Time and again, you’ll see that one comment from some random person picking out all the things “wrong” about the original poster’s photo when not explicitly asked for criticism. Trying to find all things wrong about someone’s else work speaks loudly on how you feel about your own work. Instead, be obsessed with all the good things. You will see that positive attitude reflected back in your own work.
Praise, study, share…
Empower yourself to find and open your mind to seeing new ways to practice your photography. Every amazing shot you see should be filled with a lot of information. Part of being a professional is being able to study light, composition, settings, poses, post-processing and photo editing techniques. Critiquing your own photos is only the beginning. Learn how to study others work constructively.
If you like something another photographer did, figure out how they did it. If it still baffles you, try asking them. You’ll be surprised how gracious photographers are to those who respect their work. First, praise their work. Second, study and learn as much as you can from it. Third, share their work, show respect. Photographers value their peer’s praise above all else.
Professional photographers never stop learning their craft. Creativity is what feeds our souls to constantly do better, and learning from each other should be at the forefront of our education. When criticism is asked for, praise first, then ask what type of critique they would like. That’s the productive way to not alienate each other. After all, who else is going to honestly help us besides our own industry peers?