I'm not sure what triggered this thought today, but here's a phenomenon that seems to be more unique to the photographic industry than most other career fields - people tend to help each other. Over and over again I'm amazed at people who ask for help on a photographic or business challenge related to photography and find themselves buried in answers.
Don't be afraid to ask for help! There are so many different ways you can get help when you're just stuck with a challenge.
- When it's short term and immediate, use your network, your personal data base.
- Facebook and Twitter both keep you in contact with other photographers, but be careful. You don't want to go public on a sensitive issue if you've built up your Facebook or Twitter account with future clients. Be selective in this case, when putting out questions.
- Check out Facebook's forums. I co-administer Facebook Wedding Photographers with Chris Fawkes from Australia and there are always photographers looking for help and getting some great responses. Then there are dozens of forums with other photographers specializing in the same interests/specialties as you might have. Just type the specialty in the Facebook search box and see what comes up.
- The Digital Wedding Forum, DWF is a great resource and with years of data already in their archives, you just might find the answer to your question already there.
- Check out Photofocus.com. Started by Scott Bourne, there's a ton of material covering hundreds of different topics. Just visit the archives.
- Follow the blogs of the photographers and vendors you admire the most. The Internet is an amazing resource and so many of you have photographers you admire who are posting on a regular basis. Then you've got the blogs of some amazing vendors.
- Get involved in your local guild or regional professional group. Here's a couple great examples: When I lived in Akron there was a group who meets on "Taco Tuesday", the first Tuesday of the month. There was also the Akron Guild. A few years ago I spoke at the Dallas PPA. There were 100+ photographers at the dinner and there wasn't one person who wouldn't have helped another if asked. Every state has groups of photographers who typically get together once a month, but you have to make the effort to find out when and where and then be there!
- Tradeshows and conventions have been built on a foundation of providing help to their attendees and again they happen all over the country.
- Don't forget the vendors you work with. For some unexplained reason everybody seems to forget the expertise at every manufacturer, especially your lab and album supplier. Even when the problem isn't theirs to fix, the staff at both of these service groups are well-travelled. They know so many different photographers and can be an incredible resource and most of them are just a phone call away.
- If you're not already a member, you should be involved with your state association or the nationals, like ASMP, PPA or WPPI. Again, here's a resource for you to get help when you need it and some times the answer just might be on one of their websites.
- Look for special programs! Yeah, here's where it finally happens - I turn to the shameless promotion of one of my own projects, the THRIVE series. What's going to make this so different is meeting three times prior to the live program on March 2 with an interactive webinar, exclusively for the attendees who are registered and customized as much as we can to their needs.
The bottom line is simple: When you're stuck with a challenge and the frustration level is climbing, ASK FOR HELP! You're part of an incredible industry with a history of photographers helping each other! I can't believe I'm quoting gossip columnist Rona Barrett this morning, but she totally nailed the topic!
“The strong individual is the one who asks for help when he needs it. Whether he has an abscess on his knee or in his soul."
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