Blurring the lines between comrade and competition

Blurring the lines between comrade and competition

Collaborate with one another: These are the result of a collaboration with photographer Shipra Panosian. She shot, I edited.

As far as I can tell, there are two types of photographers. The business people (A) and the arty people (B). It’s rare to meet a photographer where the two worlds intersect.

As a member of Group B, it can be quite hard to establish your business in the first place. When you have a passion as big as mine, you have to be strict on yourself to not basically work for free every chance you get. The moment where you have to ask for the cash can be a tense one which takes time to get used to. More on that in another post.

Photographers with a hobby-turned-business are often guilty of doing things which aren’t, well, ‘good for business’ simply because we think with our passion, not always with our brain. Although I recognise those faults, I wouldn’t change them because the day my business becomes nothing more than a j-o-b is the day I lay down my camera.

Having begun to interact with other photographers, I have sometimes noticed a shocking amount of competition, slandering and suspicion coming from others in the field. The ever present “oooh you shoot Canon. I’ll just go over there and stand in my own corner with my Nikon” attitude or the sharp breath in when a photographer finds out that you share all of your photos online. “Aren’t you worried about theft?”

I know that you probably came to this website for a grand tutorial or camera review and I don’t usually blog essays, but I really feel that you can have all the technique, talent or business brains in the world, but if you aren’t a nice person – if a photographer is stuck too far up his own…well…butt to enjoy the rich fulfilment that sharing with other artists has to offer, technique will only get him so far.

Here are some ways I think we can blur the lines between comrades and competition and make the world a better place:

I am a new Flickr convert. I have only just in the past year discovered the joy and artistic fulfilment of Flickr but I am completely infatuated. Having never taken a single class about photography, I can honestly say that there are only two places I have received any sort of photographic training, help, enlightenment or support. They are here at DPS (honestly!) and Flickr. Flickr is sooo much more than a dumping ground for ‘pics’. It is a community of photographers – hobby and professional – who share their art with each other, give away their textures, presets and actions and even give detailed ‘post production recipes’ for exactly how they achieved the look of a photo. They are not in competition, catty or mean. They don’t worry about losing money or clients. I can actually attest that one month of Flickr made me a better photographer than any other years I put into it. Why? Because the number one way any artist can learn more is simply to look at other art.

Give where you see a need. I’ve gotten so much better about charging for my services. But I still sometimes recognise the times when I should use my talent for the greater good. I’ve (sadly) fallen into the habit of knowing people who are facing the end of their lives and I give them the gift of lasting family photos. This isn’t the first time I’ve mentioned it, but I think it’s so important that we use our gift to help people or our gift won’t help us back.

Share your mistakes and don’t be afraid to make them. I do. And then I tell you all about it! 🙂 I’m not going to let my shortcomings be in vain. We should be able to learn from each other.

Help a beginner. I sometimes have beginners in the studio to watch me do a session or take on a work experience kid for a week. And, yes, I’ve said no to people who want to observe my studio who live in very close proximity to myself. It wouldn’t be wise to train up a competing studio. But this doesn’t always apply just because someone lives near me.

Most of all, stop viewing every other photographer as your competition. Every photographer has a style unique unto himself. None of us is like the other. You can only get an Elizabeth Halford portrait from Elizabeth Halford. Simple as that. If a bride wants my style, they can only get it from me. If they want your style, they should hire you. There is plenty of work to go around.

I fully understand the need to be savvy in business and protective if photography is your bread and butter. But sometimes, this can become a bit overkill and do more harm than good, most of all to yourself. After all, just look at this website. What a shining example of Group A and Group B working together to help enlighten the masses in the ways of photography. Let’s see what we can do about blurring the lines between comrade and competition.

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category

Elizabeth Halford is a photographer and advertising creative producer in Orlando, FL. She wrote her first article for dPS in 2010. Her most popular one racked up over 100k shares!

Some Older Comments

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  • Playing Devil's Advocate Here July 15, 2011 06:42 am

    I want to agree wholeheartedly! I think wherever possible, we should be kind, collegial and helpful to one another. I have to add a caveat though. My experience has been gained over 20 years of learning, paying for courses, spending hours and hours studying and experimenting. My business "secrets" (for example, which lab to use) have been gained through trial and error, and lots of dollars spent over the years on prints, canvases and the like. I cringe when competitors or hobbyists ask me where I get my canvases printed, and I have responded with a gentle, "Sorry, that's private information." Just as I wouldn't ask a retailer the name of their supplier, or a manufacturer where they buy their parts, I don't think it's appropriate for people to expect photographers to supply "inside tips" for free. Would any of us approach a dentist and ask him to tell us how to do dentistry in his spare time? I don't think he'd feel it his obligation to share that information with us. It may seem "mean" to hobbyists, "semi-pro's" and young photographers when photographers choose not to teach or share business information; however I think they need to consider that photographers are not simply in business to satisfy artistic needs, but to earn income. I'm paying for my children's university tuition, and if you set up shop using my methods and my suppliers, I will lose business that I have worked hard to earn.

  • Ernest January 14, 2011 10:13 am

    That's awesome attitude!! Just like what Chase Jarvis' willingness to share what he has learnt over his years of photography...thanks guys...!!

  • Louise November 12, 2010 06:39 am

    Oh, that's beautiful! I'm so happy to read such articles because I consider myself a beginner and I love to share what little knowledge I have with those who are picking up a camera for the first time. Thank you so much for such an inspiring article. Awesome! I do hope to go professional one day, once I've retired from translation (my first passion!).

  • Debra Houston-Holmes July 4, 2010 12:39 am

    Thank You So Much! Awesome! It sums me up! I am on a Journey thanks to our good Lord! I have a passion for photography and have been through the trenches getting to where I am today. But, that has helped me to grow into a better person because of it. I started shooting with a 35mm in 1978, and now have a Canon 7D. I have had probably 6 cameras before now. It is a challenge to keep up with all the changes, much less the competition. I Love sharing what i have learned to help others further there careers. It's like teaching someone to ride a bike that has never been on one. Just to see them go from being scared to the confidence that they can do it. It helps you in the long run become a better person. that is what this story has done for me! Thanks.

  • Molly July 2, 2010 01:02 am

    You took the words right out of my mouth! I talk about this all the time on my FB page. I feel that with more and more individuals picking up the passion that there is a HUGE calling for networking! Thank you so much for sharing!

  • Loraine McCall June 23, 2010 09:34 am

    I was blessed to have a mentor who taught me that other photographers are my colleagues rather than competition. They can actually jump in if we have a friend photographer to help in case of an emergency. Also, what are we doing here? We are learning from other photogs.

  • David Schrichte June 22, 2010 10:49 pm

    Thank you for opening the Pandora's box of photography. I too, have had the somewhat distasteful experience of asking a "professional" photographer to share a photographic technique only to offered the "it's a trade secret" excuse. For me, those admittedly few encounters were a blessing in disguise as they opened my eyes to be an "inclusive" and not "exclusive" person regarding both my own image techniques and life experience overall.
    The universe opens up and works for you instead of against you when you stop seeing others as competitors and begin to share knowledge and experiences. Quirky as it may sound, I refer to it as Kelvin Karma. For what you emit as your "light" will come back to you ten fold be it good or bad. So share a positive warming ray and watch it come back to you in greater abundance. Thanks for sharing, Elizabeth.

  • jean henderson June 21, 2010 10:13 pm

    Thanks once again, Elizabeth! I always get much out of your posts! On this one, I am definitely a "B" though in my younger days I was employed by an "A" which I took as an opportunity to learn more technique as I had had only one very basic course in B/W photography when I had never even held a 35mm before the class! It took me 3 rolls of film to get anything printable -- and that I had to really force. They were terrible as prints! That was 40 years ago. I've only started to learn digital in the last almost-a-year now. I've been learning in a vacuum with the exception of places such as DPS and other helpful online sites. Through one, I found another hobbyist -- in January -- who was willing to mentor me through email and he has been a tremendous help!

    Thanks for the info about Flickr. I thought I couldn't justify the cost as a mere hobbyist on a fixed income, but you have made me reconsider. My most productive work environments have always been in the collegial work mode -- the atmosphere of mutual sharing. It is also one of the things which has always attracted me to the arts, though I learned that the business side can get very competitive indeed and chose not to go that route. Passion is what it is all about for me and, as David duChemin -- who successfully combines "A" and "B" -- would say, VISION. I'm still learning what my own vision might be, but prefer to leave the details to my critics as I pursue my passion.

  • Eugene Brown June 21, 2010 05:33 pm

    I found this article Bluring the lines between comrade and comprtion most enlightening and I well definetly check out Flickr. Thank you, Elizabeth Halford for you're insiteful view on photographers and photoraphy.

  • Hlompho Letsielo June 20, 2010 11:07 pm

    This article was very helpful to me as a beginner, I actually feel better now because I was more like an introvert concerning my work, I only shared what I thought was better and in that way you never get to grow as an artist because you do not get constructive criticism which gives an illusion that you're still ok, while you know you're not! Thanks a lot!!!

    I'd also want to know more on photojournalism because I'm a freelance photographer.

  • Hamish June 20, 2010 08:34 pm

    Thanks for the encouragement! I am purely a Photographer 'B'. But i have become so frustrated with photographer's calling themselves 'professional' as well.

    I am a good photographer - but what classes someone as a 'professional??? is it by quality of image? Or because they're getting paid for being a photographer? Or because someone thinks they 'belong' in this 'class' of photography?

    I personally feel the 'status' of professional' is very blurred as well. Anyone can assist in clarifying this 'status'?


    Albany, Auckland, NZ

  • Helen June 20, 2010 05:43 pm

    Oh so true, I use a sony and I get shoved to back of the room all the time .... I also take photos for my students as lots of them don't photos of themselves. This is what photography to me is all about sharing the moment as compared to what the point score will is in club comps.

    Keep up the tips..
    I love my Sony!. I love my Sony!


  • Carolyn June 20, 2010 03:48 am

    I think photography is a pay it forward art. Enthusiastic photographers have helped us along the way and it behooves us to help those behind us. Where would we be without the likes of Chris Hurtt and Bryan Peterson . ..whose total mission in life is to infuse you with their passion. After all, it is about the art and the passion, and that is really all there is to it.

  • Benjamin Brown June 20, 2010 01:25 am

    This is a much-needed article, thank you! On a few occasions, I've encountered local photographers (fortunately only a couple) who are so incredibly protective of what they 'deem' to be their territory, that they are almost nasty and abbrasive when an ambitious local hobbyist is trying to move into the business world of photography!
    You're absolutely right; there is a lot of business out there for all of us, and I truly believe that positive, mutual consideration and comradery between photographers is more of a benefit to everyone's business than a negative! I've been very fortunate to encounter a hand full of local photographers who genuinely enjoy sharing their knowlege and encouragement with those of us who are still learning the ropes! I too am self-taught, and those precious nuggets of information graciously and freely given by others have done more to advance my skills and love for photography more than any other avenue!
    Thank you for this article!!

  • Mary Jane Glauber June 19, 2010 01:25 am

    This advice could be applied to how we live our lives in general. Great article. Thought provoking on many levels.

  • Brian Cohen June 19, 2010 01:06 am

    Great article. Your article gave me much cause for reflection. As a hobbyist and semi-professional, I enjoy taking the photos my way, with my perspective, and I know that my view is truly unique, not necessarily better than another photographer on site with a bigger or more expensive lens. Still, there's a very competitive side to my personality, and I constantly--if briefly--need to tell myself that the art of photography is in the arbitrary eye of the beholder. Thank you for reminding me of what capturing moments is truly about.

  • Tejas June 18, 2010 04:34 pm

    Excellent article. dPS and Flickr truly are amazing places to learn.

  • Jo June 18, 2010 09:32 am

    What a reassuring article! Though I have had an interest in photography for years, the development of digital technology has made it much easier to pursue. Unfortunately I have a near & dear who also loves photography but has seen my growing interest as a threat and has made no secret about her disdain for my abilities. It's such a pity, because we could have such fun learning & developing together. Hence I've found it really hard to share my work (as I've seen it mostly through her eyes) and so far have avoided doing so, even though I've been joined to DSP for a few months. DPS has been a godsend, I love the tutorials and the comments & tips people leave and the feel of "comradeship"; most of all I love looking at other people's work. Thanks Elizabeth for an enlightening article that has boosted my confidence, made me realise I need to get over my silly insecurities and simply enjoy this amazing passion. There will always be people willing to put us down and stomp on us and we need to remember this is a reflection of them, not ourselves. I need to stop seeing all other photographers as people who want to criticise me for I know this is not the case. Three local photographers (in a small town, they are our main three) have offered me their help and some tips once they learnt of my interest (and I didn't even ask!) which shows their genuine passion in the field. I think this is what makes them awesome and respected at their job, they love it so much and are confident in their abilities and business skills that they don't see the need to trample a wannabe. Instead they can't wait to drag another person into this beautiful world of photography!

    NB: Criticism and constructive criticism are two very different things in my eyes; while the first can be hurtful and negative, the second is useful, beneficial and essential to growth.

  • allan cox June 18, 2010 09:13 am

    Oops that sounds really bad. The reason I’ve never posted a reply to other articles before is laziness on my part, not because of other articles lack of worth. (Must remember to engage brain before typing)

  • allan cox June 18, 2010 09:02 am

    Hi Elizabeth, you said at the start that people come to this site for a ‘grand tutorial or camera review’. Well none of those articles have ever even inspired me to post a reply. Your article by contrast has got me thinking about posting articles. Thankyou.

  • Phil Bourgeois June 18, 2010 07:19 am

    I can really relate to this. An early encounter on the web with a forum composed of local photogs left me with a very bad taste in my mouth. They were sarcastic, catty, argumentative and hyper-critical. Now I know that honest criticism is needed to learn, but this bunch reminded me of sharks smelling blood! Rarely was their criticisms constructive and often destructive.

    Anyone who first embarks on an artistic or creative foray can vouch that showing their work to others is akin to standing naked in front of them. Crticisms must be gentle and encouraging. Now, with experience and understanding under my belt I try hard to remember this 'raw-wound' feeling when another less experienced photog asks me questions or shows me his/her work.

    I'm also a life-long amatuer musician and have NEVER encountered the negative attitudes in music as I have in photography. When a group of musicians get together it is always enjoyable, instructive and fun. When a group of photogs get together there seems to be alot of cliques quickly forming that are based on brand, expense of equipment, quality/quantity of equipment, type of preferred shooting (wedding/portrait pictures are 'real' art. Landscape is not....etc...), experience, and on and on and on!

    I whole heartedly agree with the sentiments echoed here. Give me a break....I'm not out to steal your 'art' your jobs, or anything else. I just love this thing called photography...just like you!

  • nick June 18, 2010 06:44 am

    awesome website.
    in 14 months of dslr I learned a lot and for sure i see the world around me differently.
    for me digital photography site was my school and second was flicr. I have realized the majority of group B are more open and friendly the group A who see the group B a deadly enemy...

    please take a look to my flicr album:

  • amberrose June 18, 2010 05:29 am

    Good stinking article!

  • MARIO NARANJO MOLINA June 18, 2010 04:56 am

    My website in flickr.

  • MARIO NARANJO MOLINA June 18, 2010 04:55 am

    I agree with these comments totally.

  • prashant June 18, 2010 04:12 am

    one of the nice articles i read in some time..

  • Randell John June 18, 2010 03:49 am

    It was a breath of fresh air reading this article Elisabeth.
    If only more people in the world though like you, we would all be happy and wealthier.
    Money is'nt everything and personnally if it were, then I'd go back to doing a job I hated getting up for in the morning.
    Tomorrow I'm shooting a wedding for a couple who have just about managed to scrape enough cash together to tie the knot.
    Although I can afford to produce a photobook or album for them for nothing, they can have all the high res images I'll take so that in the future when they can afford it, they can put their own album or photobook together or pay me to do it for them.
    It will cost me nothing but my time, but mean the world to them.
    After all what comes around goes around.
    Good luch with all your endevours Elisabeth, I'm sure you'll succed.

  • Dina June 18, 2010 03:37 am

    Elizabeth, this is by far the most enlightening article I've read on DPS - and I've read lots. It was so sincere and your tone was as though you were right there next to me!

    I am from Group B and flickr has been an amazing place for me too. I learn by reading other people's photos. For me this is a hobby but if ever I were to make some money from it, I wouldn't want to be thought of as possible competition, but as a possible collaboration with other artists!

    The best thing you said was "You can only get an Elizabeth Halford portrait from Elizabeth Halford." A lightbulb went off in my head. It's so true, and this is why we shouldn't compete - our artistic styles are all unique. Even I, who is so new to photography, even I have a style like none other.

    Thank you for this... now where's the 'fave this' button??! :)

  • Summer June 18, 2010 03:18 am

    Thank you so much for that. You expressed exactly who I am as a photographer and how I feel about my work. Also, I have seen the competitive side and I don't understand it or like it. I hope what you wrote will impact and influence how photographers interact with each other and the world, where sharing our gift can impact a life. Thank you for the info about flicker.....I will get right on that :)

  • sweetpeatoad June 18, 2010 02:56 am

    Thank you for writing this wonderful article Elizabeth. This is very true (I ran a handmade business and this happens in the handmade world too, not only to photography :))

  • Tamara June 18, 2010 02:09 am

    Elizabeth, My hat goes off to you writing this. It made my day.

  • Sara Sultan June 18, 2010 02:02 am

    What a great and honest article Elizabeth. I'm into photography as a hobby and hope to turn it into something more serious in the near future. I've done a lot of free shoots for friends and family and am now realizing how much time it takes when you already have a full time job and full time school on top of it.

    Learning to be better at charging friends but it is a difficult step for me. How did you step into that facet? I would love to read some tips (if you can share) on that.

  • hanifah siregar June 17, 2010 11:02 am

    ups. for free, not for fee.

  • hanifah siregar June 17, 2010 11:01 am

    wow, you're so right. I'm in a middle of decision making at the moment. I'm thinking whether i can keep my art (I took pictures of my friends for fee, like what you just wrote), or i can do the business, or, i can do both. Love the quote, "If a bride wants my style, they can only get it from me. If they want your style, they should hire you". In conclusion, they can hire me if they like my style of art, so i can do business and i can still stick to my passion.
    Thank you =D
    this is me on flickr:

  • Deirdre June 13, 2010 06:52 am

    This is a wonderful article.

    You mentioned a bride wanting "an Elizabeth Halford portrait." This is exactly what many (not all!) of the more business-minded photographers are lacking -- a reason why a client would want a portrait specifically by them. I have seen a lot of examples of wedding photography where the photographer can obviously get the job done but doesn't have anything that identifies those photos as his or hers. Since those photos are relatively interchangeable, maybe they do need to be competitive with each other.

    I definitely fall into the more arty camp of photography, and I don't feel I can be comfortable pushing "my wares" until I have developed a style that is easy to identify as mine.

  • Juan June 13, 2010 03:39 am

    Great article. I've read most comments and seen most participants refer to giving advice to newbies and amateurs and even professionals. This is amazing, as a big sharing community has been built around photography. One of the comments talked about the value you give to your work (whether artistic or business-like) and its relation to what you should charge for it or not. Newbies, me included, ask ourselves where to start and how to do it and often commit some mistakes: charge less on the lack of experience and failing to appreciate one's work enough. And, as the participant said, that leads us to set low standards, both artistic and economic, that finally dilute competition, as costumers or those interested in photographic work get more used to the economic side of the industry. So I agree, as photographers we must strive to set high quality artistic standards for a balanced profession and not being afraid of sharing, maybe just careful.

  • Rob June 13, 2010 03:22 am

    If I may make a point.
    Maybe something that contributes to the tension between photographers for Business is the abuse they and those doing it for art receive from society in general. I'm not talking about physical etc, but use of people’s effort without permission, compensation or even credit. Some people and companies treat the generosity of places like this and flickr as a free shopping basket without even acknowledgement. So this is bound to put pressure on photographers in business and tension between us all.

    I for example had a request this morning to use one of my photographs of St Petersburg by a company. The request made no mention of compensation, acknowledgement etc (I checked their website, they just don't do it). They didn't want permission for the flickr version I put up but for the full blown top end high quality version. So I won't get compensation or acknowledgement or anything in return (please don't suggest kudos when you are commercial organisation) . So it’s no wonder it irritating when your efforts (including myself) to help others unconditionally because we want to is seen as a free for all. Being a type B is hard when this attitude is going around.

  • Karen Stuebing June 12, 2010 08:47 pm

    I really like this blog like post. It talks about non technical things that are still about photography.

    I have my Daily Shoot to take photos according to a different assignment every day to challenge me. Granted, a lot of the photos aren't great. That's not the point. It's about leaving your comfort zone and learning.

    I have covered events and have had other photographers practically knock me out of the way to get a shot. And the video cam people. They act like they're the kings.

    I've had Nikon people tell me "I'm shooting at ISO 1600." Who cares? It's about getting the shot, isn't it? If I can shoot at ISO400 and not get camera shake, what's the big deal. And sorry, I know Nikon's are great for high ISOs but I've seen the photos. They've got noise.

    And I also give photos away. Why not? Usually the person will offer to pay for it. It cost me $1.29 so I don't have a problem with freebies. For me, the big smile when they see it is worth more than money.

    I'll just muddle along with my PentaxK10D and not post every photo I take on my Facebook wall. Just some. :)

    Here is a recent photo essay I did. This has no commercial value. I was trying to express what it is like to be in a dying town in West Virginia and what we lose when we let these kinds of places go.

    I'm not using the code because it never works for me. If you want to see it, you'll have to copy and paste. Sorry.

  • Gavin June 12, 2010 10:55 am

    Wow, someone finally broached the subject.

    Really enjoyed this article. I hope to see more like it. These type of posts provokes discussion, thought, ideas and even some times inspiration.

  • kate June 11, 2010 11:53 pm

    @ Elizabeth, I'm sorry. I'd assumed your husband worked (or even that you were married but I am probably mixing people up now). My apologies if this is not the case. My grandmother painted watercolors and made about $450 a pop but she had my grandpa's military pension after he died. She would have done something else if not for that or probably charged a lot more considering the turn around time.

    No one's in competition with me. For some reason I go out of my way to not get paid for anything I make. :)

  • Jenn Walker June 11, 2010 11:45 pm

    THANK YOU! I have been searching for the right words to express my feelings of sadneses regarding this exact subject! It seems lately I've heard more photographers grumbling about so and so copying plagerising etc. etc.. than I have about photography! Not to dismiss the severity of plagerism, but it is a fine line and why can't we all just be inspired and feel greatful that someone enjoyed your work so much that they want to be like you! Hey to me that is a compliment! I am very greatful to those that have taken the time and energy to help me out and hope I can one day do so for someone else!!

  • Elizabeth Halford June 11, 2010 11:39 pm

    @Kate: Interesting comment - thank you! I'd like to reply to something you said: "To someone who is not doing it as their only source of income (the writer of this article I guess) it’s not as valuable honestly..." This is a very good example of what I am trying to relay. That when we get out of the traditional 'protecting my business' mindset and view each other more as comrades, everything will even out business-wise. Like good business karma. Because photography IS my only source of income. But being kind and open with other photographers and sharing everything I know to help them learn turned around and ended up being the majority of my business. I make more money writing about photography and helping others on my blog than I do actually shooting. And that only happened because I decided to be your comrade, not your competition. :)

  • kate June 11, 2010 11:28 pm

    Uh, business and arty intersect a lot. Many if not most artists at least dream about making money off their art and photography is inherently an art. If you don't do things that are good for business then it's also likely that you don't care if you make money, not that you're more arty. You're not trying to survive on it or don't expect to. If you HAD to make an income off it you'd learn real quick to charge for everything and think about business at the same time (or get another job). No artist has any obligation to share technique or inspiration with anyone else. No business person either. That doesn't make them rude or selfish, that makes them their own person with their own approach to their own life. If you want help, that's what teachers and mentors are for.

    Most people in any art aren't all that special, whatever their style is. When jobs are at stake, to say that you aren't all competition is a lie. When it comes to family and wedding portraiture, you are all in direct competition with each other. To someone who sees it as their only source of income they're going to protect their business as much as they can if they feel they need to. To someone who is not doing it as their only source of income (the writer of this article I guess) it's not as valuable honestly, even if you charge the same. Some people also just need to compete less because they are that good. They will get jobs anyway because they're so much better or well established than everyone else in that field. If you do it more for enjoyment than money that doesn't make people who do it the other way around less "arty."

  • Aljan June 11, 2010 11:23 pm

    Thanks for your post, nice reminder of the two kind of photographers, sometimes I forget that. I don't totally agree with you about Flickr. A lot of photos do not get any feedback, that makes a lot of people feel that it is a photo dump. I really care about helping others, just like you!

    But a nice post! :-D


  • con June 11, 2010 11:18 pm

    I'm always nice to other photographers, but many seem to have an air about them. It's very rude.

    Also, I cannot stand braggarts. I do not like to talk about my photos at all to them, really. I let my photos speak for themselves. I've met many photographers who talk about this, that, galleries they've had, reviews they've gotten, handed my business cars, talked about their beautiful HDRs, only to go on their websites and be.............


  • Sarah Davis June 11, 2010 11:00 pm

    I definitely agree!! I've had people tell me that they can't believe I put the location for my shoot on my FB Events. None of them are any big secret. Anyone can find them. And if they can go there and take better pictures than I did - well, then I need to work a little harder, don't I? :)

    Or trying to add on extra fees. I HATE that. I hate when it's done to me on things, so why would I go and do it to someone else? "Oh, an extra family member? An outfit change? A dog? Make a picture black & white? I need more money to do that!" As long as I will be spending the same amount of time with a family and giving them the same amount of pictures, it's up to them what they do (to an extent of course). People like it simple. And when you put enough into it, you start getting the repeaters & they all tell their friends and family.

    I also commit the "sin" of letting people save pictures from my website (*gasp in shock here*). Why not? It has my name on it!! They put it on their FB and their work screensaver for weeks and end up requesting more of my cards because they've had so many ask about it. Sometimes I think people get so worried about something being taken from them or used dishonestly that they miss out on a lot of good opportunities! (like the photo walk guy in the comments above!)

    I'll stop my venting now. :)

  • Daisy June 11, 2010 10:50 pm

    Thanks for writing this, I enjoyed reading it!

  • Marisol Risakotta June 11, 2010 10:45 pm

    Great article!!! Very well said! Loved it! Thank you!

  • Susie June 11, 2010 10:12 pm

    Excellent, article! :)

  • Markus MacGill June 11, 2010 08:53 pm

    The day we photographers can be certain of at least 95% of us carrying the comradeship attitude as opposed any over-competitive one is the day we'll all - consumers as well as creators - be better off for it.

    Until then, the healthily competitive proportion that's working together to bring great repute to photography as an art form and a valuable product shall just rise above those who see every other photographer around them as competition.

  • casey June 11, 2010 05:31 pm

    I'd say I'm a mix of the two groups since I do make money from my work and have been published in a few magazines this year but at the same time if someone comes to me with a great idea or something I think would be a learning expirence I willdo it for free for instance a model who has booked me for a few shoots recently asked if I would do a roman soldier themed composite shoot. Now this will be a big challenge to make it look good so it will be not only a learning expirence for me but possibly a great portfolio addition so the only thing I asked is for him to buy the props.

  • Tim09 June 11, 2010 04:41 pm

    Thanks Elizabeth,
    What a great post.
    I have been into some Photography shops seeking information on new equipment and what differant lens do and met plenty of A's, but find my time on DPS and Flickr very rewarding.
    Thanks again for a great post

  • Mujahid June 11, 2010 02:52 pm

    Very well said, I appreciate this post!!

  • Surf Wolf June 11, 2010 02:04 pm

    Excellent post!!
    Thank you so much for voicing such sincerity on the issue, you're a true source of inspiration!

    Surf Wolf

  • Linda June 11, 2010 12:11 pm

    So very well said! I appreciate what you've written......amen sister!

  • bdp June 11, 2010 11:49 am

    Excellent post. Great job E!

  • scott June 11, 2010 11:27 am

    Great article. It is exactly for the reasons you mention that I write a lot of what I have learned in my blog.

  • Mei Teng June 11, 2010 10:38 am

    "but I really feel that you can have all the technique, talent or business brains in the world, but if you aren’t a nice person – if a photographer is stuck too far up his own…well…butt to enjoy the rich fulfilment that sharing with other artists has to offer, technique will only get him so far."

    I have to agree with this. No matter how talented one can be....attitude determines one's altitude!

  • Peggy Kline June 11, 2010 10:01 am

    wonderful article elizabeth. i feel so inadequate with my skills due to my lack of formal training. and i have learned so much from this website, a few of my favorite blogs (such as yours) and love flickr too. thank you for reminding us of our common interest, and for what we should have learned in nice.

  • Nate A. June 11, 2010 08:42 am

    YES. I agree so much! This is an awesome article (Good Job EH ;) ). I am so thankful for the ones who give actions away for free, help by commenting on my photos, critique them, and you EH and others here at DPS for blogging 24/7 2 help me and other fellow photographers. THANK YOU SO MUCH! Seriously! Thanks.

    I agree you shouldn't be all clammy with your photos, so scared about posting them online and not wanting to help anyone else out. There is a definite line between those all for money/business photographers and artistic/helpful photographers. (Not saying that ALL business oriented people care just about money not helping others and vice versa.) Sure if you are photographing for money (business) you want 2 have competition but don't get all clammy with your photos ect....

  • Amber June 11, 2010 08:42 am

    I just had to say how much I love and appreciated this post!

  • J. June 11, 2010 08:31 am

    Oh WOW!
    I'm standing and applauding!!! YAY!
    and giggling at the "too far up his own butt" LOL!!! How true that is. I have some so-called friends who would fall over dead before they'd comment on my flickr stream. It's weird.

  • karen churchman June 11, 2010 08:25 am

    Just wondering why you have chosen not to approve my comment?

  • Mark Greenmantle June 11, 2010 07:59 am

    I've been finding ways to assist other shooters find their feet for a few years via running teams of photographers for non-profit events and giving advice on better shooting, processing and management and have sometimes found great reward in seeing them advance their skills on go on to enjoy their photography more and more, and sometimes to have one or two of them do all they can to then try to sneak any of my established business out from under me and refuse to share their photos with the non profit venture that provided them so much spectacle (and unprecedented access for great shots). So there are good and bad sides to giving others more experience and help but I still go on to train others and assist the non profit events in the process.

    I also took on a role as production manager at a pro-lab when business slowed over Christmas and find myself giving regular advice on photographic techniques, post production and print options to beginners and other professionals alike. Recently I talked the business owner into allowing us to run very cheap (just covering costs) seminars on post production and using Adobe Lightroom, as it's good for others and it increases productivity if we're doing less colour corrections and fixes to photos coming in.

  • Brett Naseby June 11, 2010 07:50 am

    This is a great article and as a full time pro photographer I can relate to much of the story. Fear drives most peoples anxiety and once people overcome their own insecurity, the fear disappears along with the competitive attitude.
    I totally agree that if someone wants your work they will pay for it. If they choose the rank amateur on a cheaper price or free job alone, there's a good chance they will never have appreciated your talents or hard work anyway.
    So while your sitting around grumbling or worrying about your competition, they're out there trying their best too...If you're in it for business, get out there and earn it and stay true to the reason you started photographing in the first place.

  • Mary Ann Mattox June 11, 2010 07:46 am

    I agree with the Flickr portion of the article! I've been on Flickr for 2 years now and it has helped me become a better photographer better than anything else as well. There are many groups that you can join that will help you.. each group has a forum where you can discuss things and ask for help/advice. If you ask for critique on a photo, people will be honest and give it. I've learned lots of DIY ideas on there too, like pics and instructions for DIY beauty dishes and things. People also post up finished pics and then pics of the lighting setups they used to get the final result. There are lots of Before & After groups on there where you post pre-edited and then post the final-edited pics - it's been a great Photoshop help! The best part... many very gifted photographers will post their "recipes" for how they achieved the finished picture (i.e. aperture, ISO speed, lens used etc etc). At lunch everyday I just spend 15-20 min on my Flickr, just scrolling through all my Flickr friends' newest photos, or hopping on the Most Interesting Photos in Past 7 Days section for some beautiful inspiration! That's oftentimes a great way to get some inspiration... just looking at others' photos.

  • Elizabeth Halford June 11, 2010 07:35 am

    @will: well that's where your 'friend' shows that he also lacks a business brain. Because you making money and having a website with photos from HIS tours is great for his business. This is a prime example of people trying so hard to step on eachother's head that they can't even see the forest for the trees. And you can quote me on that! Lol

  • Will McA June 11, 2010 07:13 am

    I know what you mean, I've been struggling to make money from photography for over a year, I got one commission and sold a print through my website early on. I lack business acumen and also have no start-up capital so it's been difficult to come up with ideas to get me more commissions and more sales through my website.

    I've noticed that other photographers often see me as competition and a threat. I have one friend who runs a photography business who gave a free sample of his walking photo tours that I went on. When I posted my photos from it up to facebook I included a link to my site where I was selling them and he took exception to me using his free gift for my own commercial gain even though the photographs were my own work and I could easily have taken them without him being there. He also declined a request for us to exchange links on our websites. He doesn't even sell prints, he does his walking tours and commercial photography commissions, so I don't understand what he thinks I'm competing with him over.

  • John Little June 11, 2010 07:00 am

    Great article. Thanks so much for sharing your insights. This is a hobby for me and I love it, but so many photographers out there are down on you for this or down on you for that. Doesn't matter I think. Just have fun, share your art. Who really cares about the rest?!

  • LeZandra June 11, 2010 06:50 am

    I really enjoyed this article.

    I am just starting out with the business side, but there are a lot of others around me that have not been doing photography for long. I have gotten together with a few newer photographers to offer them advice on the artistic side, as well as the business side.

    I had one girl ask me "Why are you helping me? Do you want something form me?" I was surprised that she felt this way, but i understand it now. There is a lot of competition amongst the military wife photographers here on Oahu. But it is mainly due to pricing. Many don't understand the basics of photography. I wanted to show her what I have learned and what mistakes I have made.

    I have started a group here for the military wife photographers to get together and learn from each other.

    I think it is easier to be nice and friendly than rude and stuck up.

  • Danferno June 11, 2010 06:32 am

    One of the better articles I've read on this website for a while.

  • KKreations June 11, 2010 06:30 am

    Thank you for this post. I often wonder as a new "photographer" (I have always loved photography and just recently decided this is going to be my career), where I stand. I have lots of wonderful photography friends where I live who have been kind enough to guide me and take me under their wing. And I LOVE this website for all the good info it has as well as assignments that push my creativity to the next level.

  • TEDDY B. FREE June 11, 2010 06:29 am

    I'm glad i read this....

    i'm a newbie and i'm hybrid, my "A" side and "B" are constantly at war about what direction i should go or what decision is the best decision to keep me honest w/ myself.... i can definitely relate to many of the things you've mention.

    Thanks again,

  • shipra June 11, 2010 06:23 am

    yay!!! I love this article, especially the ending line and how it sums up what you're saying so well. You are SUCH a prolific writer, Elizabeth. The DPS community is blessed to have a photographer as generous as you are to hear from.

  • karen churchman June 11, 2010 06:20 am

    You have summed that up perfectly, I can relate to so much of what you have said. Im so thankful for the 'TYPE B's' of the world, like yourself, who are more than happy to share their skills and experience with others. You deserve all the accolade & success that comes your way.