I’ve had a few people ask if I’m a self-taught photographer. In the technical sense, yes I am. But I really cannot take the credit. There are so many wonderful photographers who care more about building up the photography industry and pouring back into younger photographers than keeping their style and photography secrets to themselves. Don’t get me wrong, branding and name recognition is very important. But do you want your name to be remembered because you work so hard at building your own image, or do you want to be known as someone who empowered and lifted up others? For so long I was afraid of pursuing photography professionally, because I thought it would be cut throat. I thought other photographers would look at my work and laugh. I thought that I would be very alone. I could not have been more wrong. (I am sure there are some people like that out there, but I have not met a single one of them!) Every New Year’s Eve I choose a word or phrase that I want to describe the upcoming year. 2016: “Faith over fear“. Faith that I serve a good God whose love and acceptance of me is not determined by how many sessions I have booked. Faith to do something that I enjoy, even if just for the sake of how much joy it brings me! Faith to reach out to others for help and community.
The Rising Tide Society (http://www.risingtidesociety.com/) has been a huge part of this story. Their mission is: “Educating and empowering creatives to thrive in the spirit of community over competition.” One of the ways that they accomplish this is through Tuesdays Together meetups. On the second Tuesday of every month, creatives from all over the nation gather in local groups to network, collaborate, and learn about a specific aspect of creative business. I have met so many new friends through the Greenville TT, and they make me want to be better. They share their frustrations and victories. These creatives, along with so many wonderful professional photographers and educators have taught me so much over the past six months.
Ben Sasso is one professional photographer/educator that I have gleaned so much from. At the end of every Instagram and FB photo he says, “As always, feel free to leave questions! We’re all in this together!” Isn’t that amazing!? A professional photographer telling you their lighting preferences, camera settings, editing techniques…Who does that!? I have been so pleasantly surprised that the photographers who do give this information and instruction are THRIVING, not suffering from revealing their photography skills. Ben published a “Photographer’s Manifesto”, and my favorite part of it is below:
“I have seen so many photographers become islands. Lonely, discouraged, and negative little islands. Somewhere along the line someone thought it would be a good idea to view each other as competition and I have no idea how that stuck. Let me set one thing straight right away: your life and career will suffer greatly if you believe that, I promise. I am not your competition. You are not my enemy. You are my fellow artist and I’m on your team. I want to see you win. I want to see you create gorgeous things. You might think that there are only so many jobs to go around but I assure you, there are plenty. Every artist out there has their own style and every potential client has their own taste. There is always a match for you no matter how many other photographers there are in the industry. So here’s a thought: let’s quit seeing each other as threats to our businesses and start looking to each other for inspiration, education, and encouragement. We are all passionate artists; let’s start treating each other like it.
Competition tears you down, community builds you up. It seems like a pretty obvious choice, right? Let’s all be friends.”
Doesn’t that just lift up your soul!? This is my motivation in designing a photography workshop. It’s small, yet still frightening to me, but what I have learned I want to give back to you. I will answer any question you have, because so many other photographers have answered mine. And we both are the better for it. xoxo LC
*(You can view the whole manifesto here: http://bensasso.com/blog/photographers-manifesto/?mc_cid=3b7123e6f3&mc_eid=bf7b543e21 )