A Call To Arms – Why We Photographers / Creatives Should Look Out For Each Other

This superhero shoot I did earlier this year was done with all volunteer helpers / photo friends. Thanks guys!

If you have tried your hand at independent professional professional photography at all, you have quickly discovered it isn’t easy… especially on your own. There are no job hours, there are no guarantees, there are no benefits, no job security, etc etc etc. Most importantly, there is nobody around to tell you what to do every day except the grumbling in your stomach, the roof over your head, and creative the passion in your heart.

I feel like in the past (before the strong prevalence of social media), commercial shooters viewed each other as merely the competition (for the most part). Sure we would meet up at the local trade association mixers and chat a bit, many of us have done it, but you could practically smell the resentment of each other. Although, I feel like social tools, such as Twitter, have allowed us to freely communicate and share with each other. It has opened up doors to a greater understanding and appreciation of the battles we face in our careers.

Here are a few reasons why I think you should befriend / be good to your photo community:

  • Information resources: Need a certain type of location or person to cast in a pinch? Don’t know where to buy a certain type of prop or piece of equipment? Gear fail last minute and need to borrow something specific? How about someone to hold your lights when you don’t have budget for an assistant or doing a personal shoot? I’ve definitely reached out to my photography friends for all of these things one time or another.
  • A friendly shoulder: Listen, this lifestyle isn’t always easy. The hours can be long and some of our friends with 9-5 jobs don’t quite understand our lifestyle. It’s nice to have fellow creatives to ask personal/work advice from, share war stories, and even critique your newest work.
  • Problem solving: Lost all of your images on a shoot due to a bad card? Crazy unreasonable clients? No worries, hit up your buddies to help you figure out the best ways to handle a situation.
  • Job Sharing: “Hey, one of my clients just offered me a great job for easy money, but I’ll be out of town… want the job?” Yes please! It’s a two way street.
  • Karma: Because, it works man.

I try and set up mixers with local shooters through my twitter/Facebook/blog. I’ve done a few in LA and DC so far and I am very thankful for the photographers I have met. It doesn’t matter what level of success you may have obtained, we ALL can improve ourselves and our careers with the help from some photo friends. I personally have been repeatedly surprised by the resources and information some of my amateur photographer friends have shared and have directly benefitted from it.

Sure, we live in an age where there are photo forums and photo sharing sites, but that’s not necessarily what I am talking about here. Meet some folks face to face. Buy them a drink. Share their stories. Exchange contact information. It’s easy to talk online, but as my dad used to say, the best meetings are done in person. We are all facing this competitive uphill battle together. It’s always nice when someone is out there watching your back!

Would love to hear your personal experiences and input on this! Spread the love.

Keep an eye on my twitter account for the next mixer or maybe set one up of your own!

Thank you to my friends in the industry and I’m thankful for everything we have been able to do for each other.

14 thoughts on “A Call To Arms – Why We Photographers / Creatives Should Look Out For Each Other”

  1. There are so many young photographers out there who are eager to learn new things in the photo community. Competition and resentment between photographers will only create a barrier for improvement.

    And yes! I also feel the photographers should start befriending one another in order to grow and benefit from each other.

    …Because karma really does happen!

  2. I totally agree, just did a pretty cool shoot with a ton of help from volunteers and another photographer. I think this so good for networking as well. Not to mention it was a sunset shoot and the extra hands helped out big time so I didn’t loose light. Great article Doug!

  3. Thanks for this post as I and I’m sure others understand some or all of the issues involved here, but may not have been able to voice them. It helps to think of photographers in a community where we can all help one another to “the next level.” I have been full time with photography for about six months and it’s amazing how much effort it takes to keep things going and still have a life. The more you get to know another person and their goals, you may see beyond perceptions and find that we have many things in common as far as our aspirations, challenges and successes. You have helped me and continue to be an encouragement and inspiration. See you around.

  4. Well said.

    Let me know if your ever in Atlanta. My self and my gear including 2 elinchrom strobes soft boxes are at your disposal. I’ll ping you when I come through DC.

    My best to you, always.

    -David

  5. I can think of a few photographers right now that could learn a thing or two from this….Instead they choose to have the ‘holier than thou’ attitude and that they own the market and wouldn’t dare do anything to help a fellow photographer out. Like you said though, Karma…It works!

  6. In the area where we live, we’ve created a Facebook group for ALL local, professional, amateur, and student photographers. At least once a year, we get together for a BBQ. Throughout the winter months, us wedding photographers get together at coffee shops or pubs once a month to just hang out, discuss the season, gear, tips, funny stories…We second shoot for each other, grip, assist, loan gear…The benefits of this community cannot be overstated. I’ve learned about great locations, borrowed gear, learned faster editing processes, and MOST importantly, we’ve made some genuine friends. Photographers who we share our life with, not just our success or our achievements, but our challenges as well.

    When we moved here 3 years ago, we didn’t know ANY local photographers. Now I count a number of them as friends. A supportive local community is be a benefit that can’t be measured.

    A great example, In August, we were shooting a wedding 1 hour from our home. We experienced a Camera body malfunction that wasn’t fixable from where we were. I called up a local from our group. We hadn’t actually met in person, just online. She was more than willing to let us borrow a spare for a few hours. It made everything go way smoother than it would’ve gone without this great connection.

    Of course, there are photogs who disagree with photogs about all kinds of things. Shooting style, pricing, business practices…but for the most part, even these get along for the sake of a quiet coffee or casual drink with other locals when we meet.

    If you need to build a stronger community, I would say,

    Use social media. Facebook brought us together. Create a group. Invite a few that others and tell them to invite those they know. Our group is 300+ photographers strong.

    Plan get-togethers. Sonders is right. Meet them face-to-face. Be agreeable. Share yourself. NOT all your secrets to success, maybe, but a funny story, a challenge you need to meet…You could find the solution in an unexpected place.

    Stay connected. Share on the group wall. Links to great articles (like this one), gear news, some fantastic work you found online by someone outside your circles. And to really surprise them, share some work that one of them did that you love. That photographer will go the extra mile for you in a pinch if you praise them in front of others.

    That’s my 2 cents!

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