by Skip Cohen
A couple of times this past week I read posts that hit the mean side of the scale faster than the warm fuzzy one and I wanted to write about it a little. My buddy Levi Sim posts a statement now and then about "No Meanies Allowed" - but that seems to be too basic for some people. So, sitting here on a Sunday morning it seems like a great topic.
A few years ago Scott Bourne, posted an article on his blog called, "And You Call Yourself a Professional?" The blog made the WordPress Top 100 - meaning it was in the top 100 most widely read of all blogs posted to their system of several million blogs - in fact it was the 14th most popular!
The blog post addressed the issue of those photographers who simply had assigned no value to their work. They bought a digital camera, had little or no skill set, caught the bride who's price-shopping and then jumped in and shot the wedding for $350, handing them a disk of images at the end. It's a pathetic demonstration of how to under-value a service and under-develop a skill set.
I strongly believe in everything Scott talked about, but this morning's blog isn't about the problem of photographers who don't assign value to their work, but the way some people responded to Scott's post, which ties into some of the things I read this past week. So, my apologies to the vast majority of you, but this is about "Trolls" who can't just disagree, but launch an outright attack on things they don't agree with. I don't get it. What is that I'm missing? More importantly, what is it these "photographers" are missing?
Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Everyone is entitled to challenging the paradigms. Everyone is entitled to do whatever they want until they attempt to stifle other ideas and start threatening their own community with their opinions.
So, to the photographic trolls out there, loosen up. You're part of the most amazing industry on the planet. People actually pay you to capture memories. You get to photograph emotion, create stories, experiment with technology and constantly raise the bar. It's when you lower the bar that it hurts, but it's not just in the service you provide, it's about how you interact with your fellow photographers.
"If a man insisted always on being serious, and never allowed himself a bit of fun and relaxation, he would go mad or become unstable without knowing it." Herodotus
So, to those of you who are willing to fight to the death over price points, print competition, add-on products vs. whether to give your clients a disk of images, Nikon vs Canon, Mac vs. PC, understanding photography vs Photoshop or a thousand other battle fronts none of us have time to read - relax - allow yourself a little fun! Learn to enjoy your network - bring some new friends into the network and most important of all, think about who you could be as a photographer.
Being a great photographer/artist isn't just about your images, but the experience you give your clients and the memories you help them capture. As more than one of my friends has said, "A hundred years from now it’s still just going to be a pretty picture!”
I've said it dozens of times, with the exception of modern medicine there is no career field capable of giving society more than professional photography! You guys are the magicians who capture intangible emotions and turn them into memories that people can hold in their hands and look at for years to come. Take your responsibility seriously, but not so seriously that you lose site of who you are and what it is that you loved about photography in the first place. Most important of all don't lose respect for yourself and your potential.
Illustration Credit: © Blanca - Fotolia.com
7/14/2013 03:07:03 am
Skip, I know how you feel. When extreme voices join any conversation, it's distracting, emotionally charged and completely counterproductive. I can't tell you how many times I've started reading a civil, informative, enjoyable thread somewhere until one of these "trolls" chimes in. Inevitably the whole discussion goes sideways, and the original thread is lost. So, their effect is even worse than merely changing the tone of the discourse, they often actually kill a valuable conversation outright.
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