It’s a funny old thing, photography. There’s a bunch of photographers who are keen to share, but there’s a larger group who aren’t. But why?
It seems to me that a lot of photographers really don’t want to share their ‘secrets’ with others, as if they’ll lose out because of it. Is there actually any real chance of loss through sharing ideas and creative processes with others? Let’s tackle that first: I certainly don’t think there is, and here’s why.
When you share an idea in, say, the field of real estate photography, what would have to happen for you to lose? Basically your idea would have to be put into practice by your nearest competitor. That is to say the competitor in your town or area, attracting your clients, hunting your target market, and shooting the same style as you would have to be the person causing you a loss owing to you sharing your ‘secrets.’ The offs of that very specific set of circumstances becoming a reality is extremely slim, as I’m sure you’d agree. In sharing your idea you’re helping other photographers in your field but (noteably) out of the scope of your target market to grow and to develop their skills, knowledge, understanding, and creative abilities. I don’t see any loss there at all! So as they say, sharing is caring.
Photography is challenging enough already as an industry with the pressures and nuances coming from the outside, with a completely unnecessary spanner sitting in the inner works that we need to lose. We need to grow as individuals in this industry, and also as a community. We all started somewhere, and we all grow from that place. In order to achieve that growth we need to take some chances, show some vulnerabilities, and from that foundation we need to move onward and upward. The vulnerable side of us in that growth is the side of us which is taking chances on releasing what is becoming a progressively better portfolio, where each image is better than the last. Retrospectively this makes the last photo worse than the current and so it shows those “bad shots” in broad daylight. This cycle never really stops – we’re always showing this vulnerability because we’re always releasing better shots and thus, through time, revealing those same shots as getting progressively worse as the next good shots come to the surface. So here’s the next thing: –
That cycle links in to the need for critique. Not heavy, harsh criticism, but creative, objective critique. It helps us to grow and it helps our community to grow. It leads us to achieve better things, better shots, and reveals new talent. We all started somewhere, as I said, and we’ve all needed guidance whether we sought it or it came unsolicited to us. It’s done from groups, communities, and from more experienced photographers. We’ve all been helped and as such we should all pay it forward.
Help people. Show strengths rather than pointing out weakness. Encourage growth, offer solutions, and add value to work that needs improvement rather than devaluing and discouraging through focusing on negatives. We’ve been in positions in our own growth, be it in photography or otherwise, where we’ve felt like throwing in the towel, and a little skill sharing and positive contribution to steer us back on course always helps – let’s make sure it’s strong in the photographic community and remember where we started, and as I said, that we lose this fear of giving away too much. There’s actually nothing to lose.