Other than photo outings, I have never posted anything all that personal on my blog before but I have found an instance where I feel compelled to write this blog. You see, I have read time and time again about situations that other photographers have found themselves in when it comes to their relationships with other photogs (local or not). A lot of times, these people have nothing nice to say about their experience. It seems there is a lot of negativity that surrounds the profession when it comes to mingling amongst the people. Some accuse the newbies of ruining the industry, some accuse the older professionals of bullying those who are just starting out in order to discourage them from continuing...they kill the competition so to speak. I've heard some basic stories and some downright horrifying stories but I had yet to ever have an issue with another photographer after becoming a photographer myself
I started out with nature and wildlife photography, as a hobby, and branched into portrait work because my friends were all having kids. Soon after, my portrait passion arose and I started branching out to other subjects. The first one was a high school senior named Robin, who was also my cousin's girlfriend. I LOVED working with her and considered the idea of getting into the high school senior market. Unfortunately, it would be over a year later before I would officially be in business and could start marketing to anyone, let alone to high school seniors. My journey into the BUSINESS of photography started in March 2013.
Today, I finally marketed to high school seniors. I posted a flyer, found below, via my social media outlets and blog. I then wrote up a blog to go over the basics of the program. That blog post can be found here: >>>>Seeking 2014 Senior Reps>>>
Within the hour, I received a rather passive-aggressive and PUBLIC comment from a local photographer with whom I had been friends with (until today) about stealing from her program and that karma would soon end my business if I resorted to continuing to be unoriginal etc etc. These are not her exact words, since she immediately withdrew her comment and blocked me from facebook, but you get the idea. This was, honestly, the first thing she's commented to since becoming my friend MONTHS ago.
To say that I felt saddened and betrayed, disappointed and downright livid, is an understatement. I wasn't even aware that her rep program was public knowledge, I'd never seen it before. I even went so far as to TRY to find her rep program, and nothing. I couldn't find a single detail about it except to say that those seniors who might be interested should email her for details. And, since I hadn't posed as a high school senior to trick her out of those details, I'm unsure of how I could possibly know them. The fact that she publicly accused me of stealing was not only unprofessional but insane! I've never stolen anything in my life and I'm not about to do so through plagiarizing a local photog's senior rep program! It was as if she thought she created the concept of customized senior photography, as if she created the concept of the senior rep program. Any photographer will tell you that the majority of these programs are the same. There isn't a lot of ways to vary how you go about the program, so the idea that mine MUST have been taken from her seemed incredibly conceited to me.
Because I had just gotten the courage to throw myself out there, her comments could have easily been disheartening and led me to give up. I could have taken all of my advertisements down, removed my blog, and "changed my mind" about advertising to seniors but I won't. I'm not about to let someone bully me into running away from the things that create joy in my life. I'm not about to discard yet another creative outlet because someone doesn't like that I'm doing it. This is MY passion, MY job, and I will stand up for it to the ends of the Earth.
I'll end this with some words of advice...
Don't let anyone bully you into leaving behind something that you love. They only have the power to control and manipulate you if you let them so...don't let them. Be you, no one can do it better!