It’s cool to be kind!

We had a lovely question from a participant for our upcoming lighting e-course about whether or not local photographers were welcome to take the course.  The question took us off guard…we hadn’t really considered the notion of NOT opening the course to photographers in the area.

The question gave us pause.  Yes, we are showing some behind the scenes stuff in studio.  I guess there could be concerns about ‘copying.’ But the goal is to help you achieve natural looking lighting.  And that knowledge doesn’t ‘belong’ to anyone!

Everyone develops their own style.  And our thought is, ‘if someone respects me as an artist and wants to take this course, I also have to respect their intentions, which is to learn.  Not to copy.’

“When you learn teach.  When you receive give.” ~Maya Angelou

I know when I was starting out, I had a few experiences that scared me off from reaching out to other photographers.

Now, let me just say, I don’t expect others who have spent lots of time, energy (and money!) to learn their craft to just freely give away all their information.  Their time and expertise is worth something.  I value it.  And respect it.   And, when given an opportunity to learn from them, I jump at the chance to buy their information! (you might call me an information junkie!)

But, my message today is, “It’s cool to be kind.”

Both when you are the person seeking out information.  And when you are the person from whom the information is sought.

Even if the answer is sometimes ‘no.’ -Say it kindly.  Accept it graciously.

And remember, it’s ok to help each other out.  There is no benefit to looking at other photographers in your area as ‘competition.’

Confession: I didn’t always feel this way.  There was a scared little girl inside that feared being copied.  That feared if someone knew what I was doing, they would ‘steal’ it, and I would have nothing ‘unique.’

Then I realized that was silly.  I am unique.  Each and every one of you are unique.  And almost every photographer in their journey has at one point or another ‘mimicked’ work they admire.  But, they soon define THEIR style.  Their view of the world.

There are enormous amounts of opportunities for photographers.   I genuinely believe that we all can succeed.  One person’s success does not equate to someone else being ‘defeated.’

A piece of advice that served me well:  Seek inspiration from LOTS of sources.  Not just other photographers (and not just photographers in your genre).  There is so much to learn about seeing the world in a different way.

And remember, it’s cool to be kind.

My challenge for you this week is to share some of what you know with others.

You might be thinking, “oh but Lisa, I’m so new to the industry, I don’t have anything to share yet.”  I’m going to guess there IS something you already know that someone else is just trying to figure out.

Sometimes just sharing your story of where you are it can be an inspiration to others.

So, why not share part of that story now?  In the comments below, let us know a bit about you (how long in the industry, types of sessions you love, where you want to be in 1 year!)

Sidenote:  Want more info on our e-courses?  Click hereIf you could use a weekly dose of inspiration in your mailbox, sign up for our weekly lovenotes! (…it’s FREE!)

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  1. Melanie on September 6, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    As a fellow photographer in your area, thank you for such kind words! I’ve been offering services for a little over a year now, and especially love outdoor, family portraits. I’ve done a few newborn shoots now and find it’s just not my favourite, so am glad to be able to hone in on my specialties. Right now my four kids are youngish (elementary school aged) so my photography career is strictly limited as I want the best of my time and energy devoted to my family.
    This next year for me will be about further developing and honing my craft rather than expansion of my business and increasing clientele. In the next 5-10 years, I’d like to expand from family portraiture to weddings.

    • lisa on September 10, 2012 at 6:38 pm

      Melanie – it’s fantastic that you have such a clear idea of where your priorities lie today…and how you can grow into your business as your family grows! Best of luck!

  2. Jana roller on September 6, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    Many of the other photographers in my area are very set against sharing their knowledge. Instead of being a community that shares a craft win each of us doing something uniqu an different it seems like it’s constant competition. It’s a very catty profession around here. I really wish the photogs here wouldnt shun the people just starting out. When I first started I found it was incredibly hard to break in. I’m so willing to help anyone who asks. But your right, it’s not a competition and nor does it have to be.

    • lisa on September 10, 2012 at 6:37 pm

      Yes! We say lead by example. When you are kind, and open and supportive, you will attract those types of people into your life!

  3. Rachel on September 7, 2012 at 2:21 am

    I like how you mentioned that you are willing to buy info. 🙂 I’m all for that, but I’m not so enthusiastic about people who try to buddy up and leach info for free. I think that it’s actually pretty difficult for photogs to keep things to themselves since we all like to “talk shop” but sometimes there does need to be boundaries. For example a friend of my mom-in-law was asking if I could give her some newborn tips since she “tried it” and had a terrible session. The issue is that I’m working hard to break into the market in that area. If I was willing to give away tips and tricks (that she can certainly find on her own with a little work) then I essentially would be training someone, not a professional, who would likely pull clients away from my business. It can be tricky to find a balance, I think. Though like you said, even if it has to be a “no” there’s no excuse not to be nice. 🙂 Thanks for your post, I appreciated it!

    • lisa on September 10, 2012 at 6:33 pm

      Indeed – it is a balance of being helpful and being a smart business woman. It can be tricky…but, the key (as you note), is to be kind. That goes for the people who are seeking the help as well. And, again, it’s a fine line for asking for some guidance vs asking someone else to do all your ‘homework’ for you – free of charge!

  4. Amanda on May 28, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    Thanks for posting this Lisa, I am at that awful…. “should I just give this up” state at the moment.. or should I buy that new lens and spend some decent money on advertising and just get on with it??? I find that I am very easily discouraged at the moment and the Milky Way is helping me to stay positive (I found you at the right time it seems). I agree that things should not be “given” away and people all work hard to establish their brand and style, its not easy for anyone to do it, but a bit of kindness goes so far for those of us starting out. I have been following a number of pro newborn photographers on facebook that I have found to be very discouraging in their posts and elitist in their attitude, so much so that as of today I am clearing out all that garbage from my newsfeed and only keeping those people who inspire me to keep going and are kind… thanks.

    • Lisa on May 28, 2014 at 7:21 pm

      It’s always a good idea to make sure that things coming through your newsfeed add value! (and lift you up!) 🙂 Sometimes, just having some ‘unplugged’ time is good too! Wishing you much success!

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