When photographers put you down

What To Do When Other Photographers Put You Down

When photographers put you downAs a new or hobby photographer, what do you do when other “professional” photographers try to put you down?

Unfortunately, this happens far more often than it should. Like in any industry, some people may be afraid of giving away their “trade secrets,” or they may fear losing out to the competition.

We recently received an email from a reader that was very upset by the way she was treated by a professional photographer in her area as well as by an actual photography instructor. She mentioned that she seriously thought of quitting photography after her ordeal.

After reading the letter, I was angered by her treatment at the hands of these “professionals” and the fact that someone would bring her to feel like she didn’t deserve to be doing photography.

First, the local “pro” was icy and obviously not interested in helping.

Next, the instructor she hired started out well, but then quickly berated and humiliated her for selling her work.

Don’t talk to strangers?

It’s tough when you’re starting out and wondering who you can turn to for a helping hand.

I remember when I attended my first week-long seminar on Cape Cod…

…during dinner, a well-known photographer in the area gave me his business card and offered to show me his studio.

I was excited to see his camera room set-up, how he displayed his work and organized his office. I was hungry for any small tips or clues that I could incorporate into my own business.

I called him the week after we returned from the seminar, eager to visit his studio. He remembered me when I called, but told me this week wasn’t good and to give him a call next week…

…As you may have guessed, the following week wasn’t going to work either, and after the third or fourth call I finally got the message.

When it comes to finding a photography mentor, put some distance between you

Later on, I meet a photographer at a Professional Photographers of Rhode Island seminar.

He was a photographer from Massachusetts with a studio about an hour and a half away from mine. He invited me to see his studio, and he genuinely meant it.

When I arrived to visit his studio, he kindly showed me around and gave me tips about setting up my own. Over time, we became friends. He encouraged me to give him a call him with a question whenver I got stuck on something.

He obviously was a more giving person then some, but I also think the fact that would had studios 75 miles apart also helped. There was no fear of competition due to the miles between us.

My Two Cents- If you going to approach a professional photographer (especially for advice about improving your photography,) choose someone with some distance between you so that they don’t have to worry about training their “competition.”

Less than kind words

I would hope that anyone in any field that considers themselves a professional at their job would at least be humane when critiquing someone.

Asking for constructive criticism is scary enough – it requires you to put yourself out there and it can sometimes be painful to hear.

However, it criticism should be constructive– not destructive. The person receiving the advice should not be made to feel worthless or stupid. Some people will of course be better at being instructive and offering hope, while others may be blunter and less polished.

But you must always remember, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Luckily for our reader, even though she was knocked off course for a few days, she believed in herself enough to keep going. This type of mindset is essential if you are going to make it anywhere in life… both in business and in your personal life.

Sometimes you may not even have support from your closest family and friends, so you have to believe in yourself enough to prove them wrong.

You also need to find people who are on a similar path to you that you can have as a support system (like the wonderful photographers over in our Backstage Pass group – click here to join for free!)

Don’t let other define your path

Many new photographers feel like they need to learn every technical nuance in order to become a professional themselves.

I’ve met many photographers that like to discuss the technical side of photography, from cameras to computers to software and more.

But keep in mind, just because someone has a seemingly infinite technical and almost mathematic knowledge at their fingers tips doesn’t mean they’re an artist.

Yes, photography can be very technical with lighting ratios, apertures, pixel size, so on and so forth. It is great to know as much as possible. But do you need to know everything all at once to take great pictures or to get paid for your work? I don’t think so.

You just have to be willing to continue to grow, learn and improve. It’s more important to know how to control your camera and “see” the light around you then to memorize every technical nomenclature of your camera.

The person that thinks they know everything seldom does. As soon as we think we know everything we shut ourselves off to discovering something new. Technology today is ever evolving it’s all most impossible to keep up ever mind know everything.

With the internet and the endless amounts of information you have at your fingertips, there is nothing wrong with being self taught and learning as you go.

For example, some of my favorite guitarist are self-taught and have not ever had any formal training. They just have soul and a gift for playing.

What do I care if they went to Juilliard and can spout music theory until my eyes roll up into my head? Their music either moves you or it doesn’t… case closed.

There are a lot of bands that I wouldn’t pay a dime to see but that didn’t stop them from selling millions of records and having a loyal following.

It’s the same with photography…someone’s style either speaks to you or it doesn’t. Your style may attract Client A, but Client B will never call you, and that’s ok! Figure out how to get in front of all the Client A’s that you can. Let the other guy work with Client B.

Keeping it real

Be honest with yourself. Try to use constructive criticism that you receive to better your work.

Perhaps someone will tell you that you need to improve upon your portfolio for it to be ready to sell to clients.

It is tough to hear, but what does your heart tell you? When you compare your work to other photographers’ websites that you admire, does your work look similar in quality? Are you able to consistently produce acceptable images from each session?

If you can honestly answer yes, then you may very well be ready to call yourself a professional photographer and proudly sell your work to the public…even if another “pro” tries to tell you differently.

I want to hear from you!

Have you had an experience where a pro has put you down? What did you do to overcome the negativity and continue to pursue your passion? Let us know your story in the comments!