You’re a photographer, so that means you’re probably self-employed, right? Unless you have assistants or an office manager, you probably work by yourself most of the time. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to be a stylist, for example. You work at a salon and you get to chat with your clients all day, all the while keeping company with your co-worker, who has the same likes, interests, and maybe even the same style as you! You run out of hairspray in the middle of a style, so you ask your friendly chair-beside-you-stylist, “hey, can I borrow your spray?” You know you’ve got each other’s backs and that’s pretty cool. I’m pretty sure that when I go to get my hair done, my stylist isn’t worried about the one next to her, and if she’s copying her style, or whether one is better than the next. In fact, they help each other get new clients, service their current clients, and in general, keep a pleasant atmosphere in the salon. (Mind you, I do realize that stylists usually work off their jobs done, not by hour, so each client is precious. I would think competition would be fierce, but it seems they realize that there’s enough hair to go around!) So what’s this got to do with anything? Well, it’s simple. It’s a call to action for photographers- all of them. Birth photographers, wedding photographers, newborn photographers and family photographers. Whatever kind of studio you own, or if you shoot outdoor mini session and on location lifestyle portraits, it doesn’t matter- I’m still talking to YOU. Let’s be more like the stylists.
I first started in photography when I was 18. Maybe I was naive. (OK, I’m sure I was.) But, it was more than that. It seemed that photographers did not equal competitors. It was more of a sisterhood/brotherhood. It was a club full of inspiration and passion and creativity and when someone joined, they were welcomed with encouragement! I remember, just starting out, that I didn’t have much equipment, and photographers that I didn’t know where always willing to loan you something. If you needed a black backdrop for this weekend’s shoot, your photographer friends would call their photographer friends and everyone would join forces until you had everything you needed. It’s a shame that I don’t see that going on these days… it’s more likely to see “you can’t shoot professional photos with that!”
I’m sure I haven’t always been perfect. It’s a hard world. Competition IS fierce. But there’s still enough clients to go around. And, you know what? I don’t want your clients. They’re yours for a reason, even if we have a similar style.
So I’m doing what I think we should all do- in all fields. I’m putting myself out there, and saying, “let’s be friends.” Let’s be supportive of one another, and not “work alone.” Let’s have coffee and talk shop. Maybe I can teach you something you didn’t know. Maybe you can tell me some cool new tricks. When we all work together, we all learn more, we all improve, and everybody wins. I want you to know the way photographers used to be, back in the good ol’ days….