I do not write very many of these Photography Q & A posts simply because I do not consider myself an authority on any photography related subject. As a matter of fact, there is soooooo much that I do not know, and am still learning for myself. I do however, believe that in some small way I am able to share and give back to others simply by sharing what I learn along the way. I look forward to the day when I can write this Photography Q & A post without feeling like I need to preface it with the fact that I am not an authority on the subject. But until then, I will continue to answer your questions in the best way that I can, which is to simply share with you what I have done for myself.
A question that has come up several times is this:
“Why are other photographers in some of the photography forums so mean to newbies?”
Well… I don’t really know how to answer that question directly. I can give you my best guess though. My guess as to why photographers are sometimes mean is this: A. They feel threatened by the number of new photographers entering the industry, which usually means they consider you their competition. B. They feel entitled to something that you may take away from them. or C. They are just naturally a miserable, mean person.Dane Sanders, in his Fast Track Photographer book, calls these people The Grumpies. And I am very familiar with my share of them.
We hear it all the time from some of the well known names in the photography industry. “Get involved! Get plugged in! Get to know other photographers!” So this is exactly what I did. When I first started trying to plug in and get more involved, I joined the Nashville Photography Meetup Group. This is where I was able to connect with people who knew way more than me about shooting. As a matter of fact, I didn’t even own a DSLR camera at the time. I was shooting with an old SLR film camera and knew NOTHING about digital photography. And if I am being completely honest here, I knew nothing about shooting with my SLR film camera either. LOL. But the point is, I spent time with other enthusiast and learned TONS about my camera and eventually purchased a Canon 50D and learned everything I could about digital photography.
After a couple of years of being involved with the Nashville Photography Meetup Group, which by the way was a marvelous decision on my part, I ended up actually becoming an organizer for the group. It was so much fun! That is where I realized that I loved giving back to other photographers. I was constantly seeking out opportunities to put together a photo shoot or a seminar where I could also give away lots of photography goodies. I began to meet professional portrait and wedding photographers, and thus an awakening inside of myself that I had finally found my calling!
Once I decided on my niche (weddings and portraits) I realized that I needed to surround myself with more professional wedding and portrait photographers. I eventually became less active with the meetup group, while I focused on the more professional aspects of starting and running a business, as well as professional weddings and portraits. The meetup group was one of the best things that ever happened to me, but I was growing and had to allow myself to keep moving forward. I began to get more involved with professionals, outings, meetings, and online forums. AND WOW! I do not think I was prepared for the nastiness that I was suddenly faced with. It was intimidating to say the least. I was a watcher. I did not plug in very much. I did not join in to very many conversations taking place… mainly because I watched some people get ripped to shreds for asking a question that another photographer felt was a stupid question! I was suddenly in a completely different league! And I was lonely.
I began to doubt myself and weather or not I had made the right decision to skip my student teaching semester at MTSU. I began to wonder if I was in way over my head! But I kept pushing forward because I had been bitten by the wedding bug. I loved weddings! And I loved getting to know my clients in the year leading up to their wedding! It wasn’t until dinner one evening with a certain local husband and wife photography team that I realized that I could do this! I felt empowered and began to seek out other opportunities to learn and connect.
I am now organizing the local Fast Track Photographer group in Murfreesboro, and I found a community within Showit and Pursuit 31. Connecting with locals in my immediate area has been a very rewarding experience, and we are able to share with each other and support each other as we grow. The Showit and Pursuit 31 groups allow me to reach outside of my immediate area, and I honestly believe that being part of an online community is important! It allows me to share what I may know, and learn what I don’t. But the reason I choose to stay so active within the Showiteers group and the Pursuit 31 group is because there are absolutely ZERO grumpies. NONE! ZILCH! NADA! Both groups have become my go to place for when I have questions. If I need an answer to something, all I have to do is post my question up in the forum and I will immediately get dozens of answers which allows me the opportunity to get different perspectives on a topic. If someone else asks a question, I can also share my thoughts, opinions, and experiences thus allowing myself to contribute back in the same way. Both groups are full of photographers ranging from enthusiasts to full time professionals. And both groups have become my photography family!
The point here is this: It is very important to get involved and plug in with other other professionals. And online communities are a great way to learn and contribute some very valuable information. But there are definitely some personal decisions that you will have to make when you are deciding which forums or groups to get involved with. For me, the grumpies intimidated me. I tend to be the kind of person that does not like any form of negativity. So when I saw photographers being mean or ugly, I knew it was not the place for me. Some of you may have thicker skin than I do, and if you do you can probably handle the grumpies much better than I can.
The important thing to do is to go where you feel comfortable. And do not be ashamed to move on to bigger and better things once you feel you have outgrown something. Aspiring and professional photographers both are hopefully continuing to grow and move forward every day. Serve others, and let them serve you as well! Resist the urge to become a grumpy yourself. Believe me, this will only hurt YOU in the end. Most grumpies tend to be grumpy in order to serve their immediate needs. But in the long run… they are just a grumpy! So do not allow yourself to get sucked into that. Stay away from the gossip. Stay away from bashing. And stay away from the grumpies. You will thank yourself later.
WOW this post got really long! Sorry about that, but thank you to those of you who stuck it out long enough to read this far! Until next time…