.Community vs. Competition.

i remember back when i first started thinking about doing photography full-time. it was around a month or so before my awesome experience at HeckYeah Photo Camp in Joshua Tree (hosted by Ben Sasso and many many other awesome creatives) last year in August. 

i remember thinking i was invisible. but i didn't FEEL invisible. i felt support. i felt personality. i felt connected. i felt encouraged. inspired. and driven. i left that camp more driven to pursue this than i had ever felt about anything before. 

i realized that photography didn't have to be competition. i always doubted going full-time because it seemed like on social media everyone was out to create the best image with the best likes. but i realized that first, i was following the wrong people and second, there WAS such a thing as community within this art. that fellow creatives can genuinely support others. and i was so happy. 

see i've always been more of the cooperative type. i've never liked competition. don't get me wrong, i'm always up for a challenge, but when it becomes too focused on "winning" or "being the best" i shy away from it. conflict in that form can ONLY bring hurt, disaster and discouragement. i've seen it happen time and time again. 

so again, when i realized i could run this race without feeling like i had to compete with my fellow creatives i was incredibly happy. and that helped drive me too.

but today..... and to be honest the last few weeks... i've sadly seen it gradually become more and more about negativity, opinions and yes... competition. don't get me wrong, i LOVE hearing other people's opinions. i love picking people's brains and figuring out why they are passionate about what they're passionate about. and i mean that with complete authenticity. i genuinely enjoy hearing that from other people! and i completely respect when someone else has a different opinion.. you do you! :)

but a lot of times, there is SUCH a fine line between "giving an opinion" and actually being hurtful and damaging.

if you're a photographer involved in any FB groups or are very active in the photography community, you're aware of the negativity that can go on inside. i have seen people announce they are officially the ones to throw out any trolls in the group. and threads that go on and on about what should and shouldn't be done in the photography world. and i just can't help but think....

aren't we missing the point?

isn't the focus of photography -- especially the wedding photography industry -- on PEOPLE? i mean.. i do wedding photography because of the couples i meet and the couples who reach out to me. i don't do it for myself. i do it because i'm SERVING someone else. isn't that why our industry is called a service? i could care less about what camera i use, what equipment i have, or what i use to edit. heck.. if someone told me they were getting married in a garage i'd say "HECK YES" because it's not about where, or what is involved. it's about THEM. it's about their LOVE and i don't need all that extra stuff to capture that, all i need is them. do the extras help? yes. but are they absolutely necessary? no. i am called a wedding photographer because of my COUPLES, not because i have a camera in my hand. don't get me wrong, everything involved in weddings on both the client's end and the photographer's end are all wonderful and beautiful things and i am not de-valuing anyone who puts extra effort there on either side. marrying your best friend is one of the most important times in your life and there is nothing wrong with putting effort into making it beautiful! and for those of us behind the cameras, i think that with the advancement of technology especially, those "extra" things have SUCH amazing potential to create some freaking BOSS photos... i have seen myself grow SO much thanks to those things -- and that's good!

but i don't think that's what photography is all about. the more we focus on presets, and equipment, and locations and all this jazzy jazz stuff, the more we become competitive, and the more opinionated we get.

go ahead. say it. that's my opinion. but i'm basing what i'm saying on the success of those who have made their businesses thrive. not because this is "just what i think." they know why they do what they do, and they don't get caught up in the sometimes distracting jazzy jazz stuff. they value the people. they value the connections. and that's what makes them successful.

BUT...... about the jazzy jazz stuff.... because i know that stuff can definitely have an impact and i'm not saying we should start giving our clients RAWS or unedited jpegs.

i respect everyone and anyone for being open about how they feel. as well as the individuals who are willing to stand up to trolls, and those who strongly believe in what should and shouldn't be done in this industry. i do. i truly do respect them.

but i'm not going to let those things go and pretend like it's all okay. 

one of the reasons why i LOVE photography so much is because you can have a single picture interpreted SO MANY DIFFERENT WAYS! and the best part is: every single one of them is beautiful. my edits are not your edits, nor are yours mine. AND THAT'S SO COOL. like i can never get over that :D wanna know the best part? because YOU have the ability to create exactly what YOU want, you'll be attracting clients who see like YOU do and want what YOU want and love what YOU love!! what about the people/clients who don't see like you? respect that! but carry on. one of the things i've learned is that it's OK to say no to couples, and receive no's from couples. not in a mean way, but in a genuine way. i have shared (from the heart) to a lot of couples that i don't feel like i'm a good fit for them because of my philosophy and style of editing. and guess what? they THANKED me and RESPECTED that! 

see what a little respect can do? :)

my heart broke when i learned that people were (and are) being blocked from groups. there is SO MUCH INSPIRATION from these groups! and regardless of if they brought it on themselves or not is completely beside my point. my point is: i feel so sad that we even have to GO there. like when did we become so worried about being right that we undermine another's ability to LEARN and GROW? i am not pointing any fingers. if i pointed a finger i'd have 3 pointing back at me. but we all started from the bottom. and just because someone else is further along in this journey than i am doesn't make them any better of a person than me, and vice versa. we ALL have something to learn from each other. you can totally share how you feel and what you think! but let's not let that cloud our judgment towards treating other human beings :) God made us all different and unique. and each of us has a different way of portraying that through photography and THAT. IS. BEAUTIFUL.

i hope i've made it clear that i am not bashing anyone or hating on anyone. FAR far from that.

i just wanted to share my heart and help spread LOVE and ENCOURAGEMENT because i know that's what brings growth and fosters community. i want everyone to feel support. and feel personality. to feel connected. and encouraged. and inspired. and driven. just like i felt leaving Heck Yeah last August.

because it's important to feel invincible.. not invisible.

#bringcommunityback can i get an amen?

i love you all. you are all amazing individuals with incredible talent. shoot how you want. edit how you want. and be proud of it! encourage others in their journey. lift up. send smiles. be a support system in this amazing world of photography and in turn let's all grow together, and MAKE SOME FREAKIN MAGIC! <3

that's all.. (: