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November 8, 2012

The Photography World

The Internet still blows my mind.  The fact that we have the entire world at our fingertips is incredible.  Not to mention how connected we can be to and with people we’ve never actually met in person or even spoken with on the phone!  But, I didn’t really clue into all of this until I started wading into the shallow end of the photography world.  There’s an amazing group of people referred to as “Showiteers”.  The reason we’re called that is because our website company is called Showit.  Now, I realize it’s not for everyone, but the software, the people, the customer support, and everything else has been right up my alley.  It’s an incredible group of people and I’ve learned so much through their encouragement (of not just me, but everyone!), their lending a hand when they don’t have to, their sharing of knowledge when I know they’re probably way busier than I am, and how everyone really does care about the success of each Showiteer’s business.

Since I’m a part of this group (and several others), I’m sort of in a photography bubble.  I’ve  gotten into this world that (like other “worlds”) has its own set of rules as well as its own protocol.  And if I wasn’t in photography at all, I would probably have no idea that any of these things existed!  My guess is that many of these “rules” have developed and morphed over the years as social media has exploded and anyone can find anything on Facebook, Pinterest, Flickr, etc.. So, while I’m by no means an expert on these “rules” nor have I made any up on my own, I did want to share some with you.  Luckily, I’ve had some incredible groups of photographers walk me through or teach me many of these things.  So, hopefully at least one person will gain something from this post!

Note: Please hear my heart when you read this post.  I love what I do and I love the community of photographers that I’m in and have the pleasure of knowing.  And I wish someone had sat me down early on to explain some of these… or if I wasn’t in the photography world that someone would be kind enough to explain how some things work.  So please know that I’m not at all referring to anyone in particular or any individual circumstance.

1. It’s super easy to see what everyone else is doing with their photography!  Sometimes it’s tempting to look over at so-and-so’s blog or website and just copy what they’re doing.  It’s a lot easier and saves a lot of time!  But, there’s no real joy in that.  Plus, it’s just as uncool to copy someone else’s work as it was to copy off your classmate’s test when you were in school.  Sadly, I’ve been hearing of people straight up stealing images from other photographers and claiming them as their own.  Now, I can understand wanting to recreate something or even just learning how someone set up a shot or got a particular picture, but taking photos from another artist and saying they’re mine has never crossed my mind.  Part of it is because I don’t like to break the rules.  The other part of it is, that it’s not my work, so why would I take it?  The key in growing a business (of any kind!), is to make it your own.  Yes, look around, see what others are doing, ask for advice, ask for help, be humble in your approach and be willing to learn!  But, once you’ve gathered information and ideas, use your own creativity to come up with something new!  I’ve said it before, because others have said it to me countless times… no one else can be you.  So USE THAT!  Let others see who you are through your lens.  Let them see what you see.  Let them see what YOU can come up with and can create.  THAT’S where the joy comes from, looking at your work and being excited that YOU created something.  And it’s even more exciting that others around you are able to enjoy it… because of the Internet!  See?  It’s come full circle… I love it!

2. Facebook is dangerous.  I don’t know how many times I’ve gotten on there with a distinct purpose and then found myself knee deep in YouTube videos on a friend’s profile or long posts in one of my photography groups before realizing I have no idea why I logged onto Facebook in the first place.  Anyone been there??  No, of course not.  All of you guys are super focused and don’t get distracted like I do ;-)  I also follow a lot of photographers and their pages on Facebook.  So, my news feed is always full of gorgeous images.  And most of those are linked to a blog where I can see more, or the photographer’s website where I can learn more about them.  Do you see?  It’s all a trap!  But, it’s a beautiful one.  Facebook allows us to share like never before.  I remember getting back from camp and getting double, sometimes triple, prints of my pictures.  Sometimes I’d get them back and then return to the 1-hr photo lab at Eckerd to get copies made so I could share them with friends.  Now, we don’t even have to wait 5 minutes to get copies made.  All we have to do is tag someone or click the Share link and voila!  Our friends have seen and received their copies!  This is so amazingly awesome and it’s hard to think about how we got to this point when I distinctly remember using rolls of film… because that’s all we knew!

Well, with sharing comes some etiquette.  It’s not so much a rule as just something nice to do.  Above, I mentioned working hard to produce your own work.  Well, if you were the one who created/produced the pictures that you or someone else has shared, there’s a sense of healthy pride that comes with that.  So, it’s always super nice when someone clicks the share button, or makes the picture their profile picture or even receives pictures from their photographer and uploads them all to their own page because they are so pumped about them!  I love when that happens!  Any artist would :-)  But, it’s even nicer when that photo is shared and credit is given to the photographer or the logo is left in tact, or the photographer’s information is put as the caption for the photo.  There is so much work that goes into this business and learning how to produce those images.  So, when a logo is on the image or a website is added to the bottom, it’s to help spread the word about that business.  Yes, there’s a little bit of pride that goes into posting images to my page with my name and website at the bottom.  And friends and family who comment, like, or even make the picture their profile picture are only helping spread the word about my business!  Which is also a reason why PASS is so amazing!  Not only can you just upload an entire album from PASS onto your Facebook page, but it automatically puts my name and website with each picture so that you don’t have to think about it!

One more thing and I’ll let this one go.  From a person who likes to spend a lot of time looking at all of the gorgeous and incredible photos, I want to know who took them.  I want to be able to call them by name and tell them what an incredible job they’re doing!  Ok, maybe some of that is the photographer in me, but even if I hear a song or see a piece of art hanging on a wall, I still like to know who created it :-)

3. I’ll let this be the last one for today’s post.  There are so many amazing (and affordable!) cameras out there right now.  Which is part of why there are so many photographers around!  I think it’s wonderful that someone who is wanting to learn photography or take good pictures has the ability to do so.  One of the jokes that’s been going around for a while now among photographers is how we get super excited about a picture we’ve taken, show it to a client or a friend and they say, “Wow!  Your camera takes really good pictures!”  And that’s when our bubble doesn’t just deflate, it’s been poped!  So, the “comebacks” that have been circulating among photographers are about how an oven isn’t what made that amazing casserole or how the sewing machine didn’t create that beautiful dress… it’s the person that USES the tools they’re given to create something.

Yes, the equipment does actually matter.  Why else would all of us want the newest and best model that’s out there?  Why would we want to continue to get new lenses?  Why else would we want to learn and get the best lighting equipment?

What I’m trying to say is that it’s a process.  WE are a work in progress.  When I started out on this journey to professional photography, I purchased my Nikon D90 and was SO excited!  It was such a great camera and it was the newest thing out there that was just under the professional level of cameras.  It was the perfect camera to start with.  But as I grew, I needed better equipment, so I upgraded my camera body to the D300s.  And then I purchased some new lenses that helped and even changed the way I photographed people and things.  And then, just recently, I upgraded my camera body again because I was continuing to grow and learn things and needed my camera to be able to go there with me.  Plus, my husband was now shooting with me and he was growing and he needed to upgrade his camera as well.  He’d outgrown the D90 and is now growing into the D300s, just like I did :-)

So, do I have a camera that takes good pictures?  You bet I do!  And I’m super thankful for it!  But, I’ve also spent time learning how to work it so that I can get the pictures I want to get…. like this precious one below.  Don’t you just want to kiss that cute little nose??  More of these will be coming soon…

If you’ve made it this far… THANK YOU for reading all of that!  I hope it made sense and I hope you could hear that I just wanted to try and communicate some things that most probably have no idea about.  I also hope that every one of you reading this blog is always welcome to contact me with questions (there’s a link at the bottom of each post that sends the message straight to my inbox)!  SOOO many people have poured into me and are still helping me along the way that I want to be able to pay that forward if I can :-)

Happy Thursday!

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