Tuesday, March 6, 2012

40 Days.....Day 2......Ignore the haters

Since I was a little girl, I was told to always try and do my best. Whether I failed or succeeded at something, my dad would always ask, "Did you try your best?" and I would reply, "Yes!" and he would say, "Well that's all that matters." This attitude was instilled and driven into me to continually. I carried this mindset into my young adult years. I was given jobs or responsibilities and no matter what I was faced with, I always pushed through and became the best at what ever it was I was trying to do. It was like I was born to succeed and be a leader.

My first actual attempt at a career was when I worked in the restaurant business. I was hired as a waitress at a restaurant in my hometown. If you have ever worked in the service industry than you know that servers, bus boys, and dishwashers pretty much live at the bottom of the food chain. Day in and day out, I would come in and work my tail off, going above and beyond my job requirements. I felt like if I could prove my worth, than maybe they would promote me and move me up the ladder. Soon, my hard work paid off. I was promoted to assistant manager and then later on to hospitality manager over the whole restaurant. I was then selected amongst the best in the company franchise to travel and open up new store locations. After my first store opening, I was selected to be the lead trainer for our team of openers. I remember feeling so honored because at that time I was only 19-years-old and had only been with the company 6 months and had no formal education or training.

Blessings and promotions continued to pour out as I continued to work harder and harder. However, along the way, I was faced with so many haters and so many difficulties; some personal, some financial, and some spiritual. Satan knows how to attack us and reach our weakest areas. I believe that is how satan's evil plan works. He knows what will pull each one of us away from God. He knows what will cause us to question God's authority and His plan for our life. He knows what will tempt us and what will cause us to stumble; therefore, that is where he attacks us.

I am sure I am going to receive some hate mail after this blog, but I believe that the photography industry has way too much hating going on. So much that it sickens me and makes me not want to call myself a photographer at all. Seasoned photographers aren't open and welcoming to new photographers into the industry. They criticize and bash someone's personal work, not even taking into consideration that they are still learning and training. Remember that photography is an art and every one sees and expresses art differently. I can only speak about myself, but I feel that my photography is an expression of my heart. When you insult it, put it down, or negativity criticize it, you are ripping a piece of my heart away. It reminds of the concept from the movie Mean Girls. Some people are so willing to tear others down, just to make themselves feel better. That's not the way to gain success and in the end, both photographers will be hurt.

I cannot tell you how many times, I am emailed or Facebook messaged and asked about a photography related question. I reply with an answer. The photographer will then reply with, "Thank you so much! No other photographer would even help me or take the time to answer my questions." I want to scream to the experienced photographers out there who do this, "Don't you realize that this knowledge you have is available any where and every where on the Internet." It's public knowledge. With resources like CreativeLive and YouTube, photography skills can be acquired and gained so easily now. The power lies in whether the new photographer puts their newly found knowledge to practice and use it. Would it hurt to take just a couple minutes and befriend this person and answer their questions?

There are other photographers out there who are unwilling to share their locations. This is my own personal opinion, but I believe it's simply because they are too afraid that another photographer might shoot at the same location and do a better job. It's God's green earth for Petesake! Other photographers close their workshops to local photographers because they are worried about competing for clients. Have you seen the size of Jacksonville and its surrounding cities? No one should be hard up for finding clients. We only have so much time we can give to our clients. One photographer alone cannot be the soul wedding or newborn or family photographer and support every client there is in this area. Client loyalty remains no matter who rises in our industry. If we would focus more on fighting to keep the clients we have instead of fighting over the clients that may never come, we would be so much better off.

The mommy in me wants to protect the newbie photographer. I want to take them under my wing and teach them and shield them from all the haters in our industry. Isn't it every photographers goal to give their client breathtaking images? Why not help one another in the process? Our photographer's community goal should be giving all families timeless images that allow them to hang on to every wonderful moment both big and small, no matter who takes them.

To new photographers out there that might be reading this, this industry is about training and perfecting your skills to be the best photographer you can be. Photographers who have been in this industry for awhile are guarded and protective because they have gone through so much to get where they are today. They do not feel like they should just hand you their years of experience in a pretty little perfect Tiffany's Box. Growing a photography business is about investing. Not just investing financially into things like training, equipment, or props, but investing in time! You cannot rush your photography business experience. It takes time to build clients. It takes time to build relationships. It takes time to build trust. These things cannot happen overnight. Whether you have 100 fans or 10,000 fans, who you are and what you stand for as a company will go much further than the images you take or the numbers of people you reach on your fan page. What people say about the way you conduct your business, the manner in which you treat your clients, the process of handling unforeseen challenges or miscommunications....will speak volumes to the potential clients who are still to come.

As I have become a more seasoned and experienced photographer, I decided I would never be this way. If just one photographer would have helped me in the beginning, I would have saved thousands of dollars on wasted crap and equipment. If someone would answer my emails or my questions, it would have even helped my marriage simply because my husband and I wouldn't have struggled with making decisions about the business. If someone would have invested just a little time in showing me a new concept or allowing me to be an assistant, I would have been able to serve my clients better. I believe in the power of "Paying it Forward". There's a movie based on this concept. That instead of returning a favor to someone who has done something nice to you, that you pass it on and do something nice for someone else. This should be practiced in our industry!

Look at your photography business as if it were a piece of coal. The refining process is part of what makes it into a beautiful diamond. It's not to be imitated or look like someone else's. It's supposed to be unique and a reflection of you. God is working on you and your photography business right now. He is using things in your life to shape and mold you and it into His beautiful masterpiece. Try your hardest to rise above all in our industry. Rise above the negativity and seek all opportunities to grow.

*****This is an image from when I first began in photography and one from recent. I thought I would share and show you how much I have learned and grown. It shows in my images and in my heart.

Jess and Matt fun!

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Kandis said...

As a friend , client, and someone learning photography this speaks so loudly to me in many ways. Thank you for sharing.

New Beginnings Photography said...

I just want to personally say that I love you so much and am so honored that you were that photographer that inspired me and showed me the way, and to top it off you love God! As a friend and a photographer you are the best in my eyes! Your love for art and your commitment to family and your friends.

Kim Smith said...

Wow!! Beautifully written. We've never met, but I was led to read this from a link on my facebook page. I was at a wedding out of town 2 weeks ago and came across the nastiest, most unprofessional photographer I'd ever seen. Criticizing anyone and everyone else that even had a camera and then threatening and being rude when pictures were put up on facebook. I wish she could somehow read this, but even if she could I don't think she would get it. From reading your blog, I'm sure you're a fantastic mentor. :)