No matter what genre of photography you are in, you will at some point have to work with other people. Collaborations with others can leave you feeling elated or bitter. Or you may find that you are the one that accidentally burnt a bridge between a colleague. As I sit here writing this, I am 12 years into owning a business and 17 years into having been a photographer. I have done some DUMB things and some not-so-dumb ones! I have been a part of some GREAT collaborations and have had the joy SUCKED out of others. The one thing I do know is that as photographers we are called to more.
Recently, I sat with a brand new photographer as we chatted about the industry. As we talked, I realized two things. I had become jaded and secondly, I didn’t want that for her. She was just starting to realize that not everything in the industry is rainbows and unicorns, and I hated that for her. I wanted to get back to that drive and joy she had. I didn’t want to see her spark put out before it had just begun. Guess what!?
It’s OUR job to see that the next generation rises up. As photographers, it is time to rise above the sea of a saturated market. It is time to do better, to BE better. I believe that as a creative industry we are called to stop living in a moral gray area we so often paint ourselves into when it comes to getting ahead of another. We justify why we did the thing that we did. We argue with our own consciousness that something isn’t fair when the reality is we signed something that says it IS.
We need to stop bending the rules and playing mental gymnastics when we work with others to suit our own purposes. Money should NEVER come before people. We are creatives but we are also professionals and we need to start treating our chosen line of work in that way. I encourage you that when you are working with others, that you rise above what the masses are doing. Set healthy boundaries and clear communication. Hold your head high along with your integrity.
The minute we stop seeing others is the moment we fail. When we start viewing people as an obstacle or vehicle to our success ONLY is when bridges get burned. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating that you be a doormat, EVER. I am however saying you should check your mindset of how you perceive people. Is your mindset right? When you begin to see them as a person with dreams, fears, hopes, and desires, that is when things start to shift.
If I had a dollar for every time I heard a complaint about another photographer, well let’s just say I would retire YESTERDAY. We expect naively that they will honor their word or even more so the contract they signed. It is easy to become bitter, angry, and jaded when others don’t live up to their word. That’s life . . . sadly. People don’t . . . but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still hold yourself to a higher standard.
Our industry isn’t a joke but often we make it one. Others outside the industry often see it as a cute hobby or something that is a side hustle. They see how we work with others and how we do not value ourselves, our industry, or our livelihoods. As you read through this today, if it has touched a nerve then GOOD! You need to move yourself internally to work better with others, to rise above the mediocre, and be better not only for yourself but for the next generation of photographers who still have stars in their eyes. Let us come together to set the example and lead.
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