That time I got kicked out of a Facebook photography group...
Within the past few months, I've been on a learning binge for photography stuff. And binge really is the best word for it. Every evening, weekend, lunch break, you name it...I'm reading a photography help blogs, watching youtube tutorials, browsing equipment, etc.
I've been cramming, practicing, cramming again, practicing some more, rinsing and repeating. I've registered for business conferences and workshops, and am even doing a mentoring session with another photographer in April. I've found a few helpful Facebook groups for "new pros," where folks post photos for criticism and can ask general and specific questions regarding the industry. It's awesome, and more often than not, I can glean something helpful from each submission to the group. Most people in these groups are kind, encouraging, and really helpful toward each other! It really is awesome to connect with others who are in the same boat as you, and dealing with similar struggles.
I recently found another facebook group, titled something to the effect of "Serious Photographers" (not the exact name as to not call them out). "Serious" you say? OoooOOoooh this must be the place for me...I'm TOTES MUH GOTES serious. :-) Anyway, I figured hey, maybe these "thuper therious" will be helpful as well! I ask to join the group. They post my info up in the group and hold a vote on whether or not I am worthy of joining them (a little weird and maybe a red flag, but hey they are SERIOUS business in here!). Wouldn't you know it, I was deemed worthy and accepted into the group. Hooray me! They think I'm talented enough to be one of the serious ones. I was accepted on the basis that I needed to introduce myself, so I excitedly gave my little blurb about being new to the business and how I couldn't wait to learn from everyone! I start scrolling the recent posts ready to soak up all of the wisdom of the serious photographers, only to be seriously disappointed. So many people just posting about how much they hate all of the "newbie" photographers in their area who are ruining the market for them, even linking to others' Facebook photography pages to make fun of them. Whoops, maybe I shouldn't have called myself out as a new photographer! Major bummer, dude.
While I can understand their complaints from the angle that the market is indeed over saturated, I've never understood wanting to put someone down for trying out something new. Sure, there are plenty of folks out there whose work isn't up to industry standards quite yet, but many of them are trying to learn and get all the experience they can to GET to the industry standard. Also, if you are way out of their league talent-wise, your target client isn't the same as theirs, and YOUR sales aren't going to be affected by these "faux togs" (as they are so lovingly called).
Not being one to keep my mouth shut, I kindly stated that I didn't see much of a problem with the new folks, as they weren't likely to affect those photographers targeting clients who value high quality photography. Perhaps time would be better spent focusing on your own business and making YOUR clients happy, instead of tearing others down. In this particular group, my comment went over like a fart in church. :-) I was quickly enlightened as to how wrong I was, that I might as well sell my camera and delete my website, as there was no way I would ever make it in the photography industry as a newcomer, and was booted from the group. *Sigh.
Have you ever noticed that the happiest, most fulfilled people tend to boost those around them up, rather than tear them down? That those folks with confidence and security in their own lives are eager to encourage and empower others? I certainly have. This also goes for photographers, as some of my favorite and most sought after photography industry leaders are constantly offering words of encouragement and long winded blog posts offering advice (technical and otherwise) to those wanting to learn. THOSE photographers are the ones who are booked years in advance, and those are the ones that I want to emulate.
The bottom line is, there will ALWAYS be people who will want to tell you that you can't. That you aren't good enough. That you shouldn't even bother trying to do something big with your life because they are jealous, or for some reason they feel they cant. But there are also those who want you to succeed, who believe you ARE good enough, and you are capable of doing amazing things with your life. Listen to those ones, and those ones alone. I'm lucky to have amazing folks in my life who are not only encouraging, but derive happiness from my happiness. And those people...those are the only ones that matter.
I'm going to keep on learning, practicing, and striving to make people happy with timeless photos of their loved ones, and I will be doing it all with a big fat smile on my newbie face. ;-) And once I feel like someone may actually benefit from any advice I may have, I'm going to start a learning series on the blog to help those who are in my position right now.
Here's one of my favorite shots from my my much needed vacation, with one of the happy people who boosts me up on a daily basis. Stay warm everyone, and stay tuned for a sweet engagement session and maternity session coming up in February!!