An open letter to Professional Photographers, by Ashley Short Photography

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.

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The photographers I met when I first started as a photographer,  have grown into life-long friends. Two of them photographed my wedding day!

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!”

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Jackie and I have photographed a lot of special moments for each other. This was a few years ago,  hours after I photographed her son’s birth.

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Here’s Jackie again, this time she’s playing the role of birth photographer, at my son’s birth!

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.

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Heather, after her first time as a birth photographer, and my newborn daughter.

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Still in recovery from my son’s cesarean, I was happy to be Heather’s wedding photographer!

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….

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  • Such a heart-warming open letter, beautiful, I’have a small circle of like minded photographers and I know I can always ask for advice or just off load after a bad day. Great support and friends.ReplyCancel

    • ashleyshort

      Thanks, Dagmara. It is wonderful to have photographer friends, I just wish that all photographers were open to relationships! They’re missing out! 😉ReplyCancel

  • Great open letter, and so so true..! If everyone would just do what they’d love, and focus on themselves instead of on what others are doing, the world would be a better place! You are blessed to have surrounded yourself with some supporting photographer friends. In my area (I’m on an island in the Caribbean) there’s so much hate and envy in the photography scene, it’s horrible! Everyone is just so focused on what the other person is doing… I try to focus on my own work, doing what I love to do and working in my own style – thank god it’s paying off and my clients love me – so I don’t really care about the rest!ReplyCancel

    • ashleyshort

      Madeline, at least you’ve got the beach, right? lol! Seriously, though, I believe I only have those photographer friends because we all learned together and were never “competition.” I’ve reached out to local photographers for coffee dates and such and they must think I’m crazy or up to something. So unfortunate!ReplyCancel

  • Love your perspective! And love that you have put it out there. The more positivity and sense of community in the photography world the better!!!ReplyCancel

    • ashleyshort

      Thank you, Alyssa. It needs to be put out there. Photographers, unite!ReplyCancel

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