Posted by Jim + Ravyn Stadick on
Okay … this one might get a little bit heavy. Just a warning. When I first started my photography business, I received a comment on my blog from a random ‘photographer’ that I had never heard of. She insisted that I was obviously an amateur because I tiled my camera while taking photos. She concluded that the only reason any person would do that would be to overcompensate for the lack of composition in a photograph. Was she right? Probably. I decided not to publish the comment since I was just starting to build my business. I was embarrassed that anyone would see my work as amateur, and I wasn’t going to post the comment for the whole world to see. After I didn’t publish her comment, she sent me a long email about how she was just trying to help, although, the number of expletives in the email made her seem less than genuine … I decided not to respond. Even though what she was saying was true (though, I didn’t realize it at the time), there was a much better way to go about the situation.
As our business has grown, we’ve grown out of the amateur ways: over-editing, tilting the camera, etc., but I know now that there will always be people that want to bash you and put you down to make themselves feel bigger. Our own wedding photographer doesn’t talk to us anymore since we started our photography business. Without any explanation from her, we were left to assume she was jealous and angry that we started our business. The sad part is, she was definitely one of the people that inspired us to take the leap of faith. We loved her work … we could tell that she loved what she did … and we realized we wanted to love what we did, too. Remember, we didn’t just stumble into photography. Anyone can go buy a fancy camera, but that doesn’t mean they can make beautiful images and/or run a business. It’s a skill that takes knowledge, heart, and creativity. Does it hurt that she cut off contact (only after posting hurtful comments on our blog)? A little bit. But, in all honesty, it makes us feel better knowing that we won’t ever be that photographer.
Where a little piece of me can see where the whole, “I have a camera, so I’m a photographer” thing gets to be a little annoying … I also know that there will always be new photographers coming onto the scene. What matters is that your clients love your work. You want to create a style that doesn’t belong to anyone else. You want to attract the clients that want YOU, not just any photographer. It doesn’t matter if someone is cheaper, better, more expensive, worse, has better equipment, etc … All that matters is that you love what you do, and you spend every day making sure your clients are certain that there wasn’t anyone else who could have captured their love like you did.
I think the point of this post is just to throw a little bit of encouragement out there. Even though there have been a couple of bad apples along our journey so far, we can’t discount all of the amazing clients we’ve met that have become our friends … and the other photographers we’ve built relationships with along the way! I know when I’m in a bind for equipment, I can call one of the photografriends (I just made that up … totally lame, I know), and they will help us out. I know that if we’re booked, I can send a potential client in their direction. I trust that they will treat the client in the same way we would! All that matters now is that we’ve built a network of people we trust and people who encourage and inspire us. Don’t let anyone bring you down. Be honest. Be real. I think that’s the best advice we could give.
One last note (because a good friend of ours went through this today): If you’re going to take the time to belittle or send hateful messages to another photographer … At least have the balls to put your name and email address on the message. Hiding behind ‘anonymous’ totally discounts your credibility. It’s childish and ridiculous that you’d stir up the dust, just to walk away and not stand behind behind your opinions.
Since no post is fun without an image … here’s our latest photo for our 365 project. We pulled over to take a photo of the landscape, but snapped this while walking back to the car. I dig it.