“Community over competition.”
I first heard this slogan (which originates from the Rising Tide Society) at the Inspired Story Conference in Dallas last summer, when I gathered with women photographers from around the country for a weekend of learning, creating, and listening to one another’s stories. Every photographer who spoke at the conference shared their knowledge and stories candidly and generously. I was blessed and challenged as much by their humble attitude as their words. My experience that weekend at the conference pushed the value of “community over competition” deep into my heart.
As my own knowledge and experience slowly grows, I try to remember the gift that that those photographers were (and still are) to me as I learn this business of photography. And like them, I strive to share what I know just as generously, whether it’s sharing a particularly lovely location I’ve found or passing on client questionnaires I’ve created. Although this can be a competitive business, with dozens of photographers clamoring for the same clients, I believe that the competition doesn’t need to define my interactions with other local photographers and that forming positive relationships with other area photographers can only help all of us grow stronger in our art and business.
I’m grateful that there are other local photographers that feel the same, including Jen Williams and Jordan Friend. A couple weeks ago, Jen and Jordan organized a play date for some local photographers in the West Bottoms and I had the privilege of joining them. They had recruited some couples and singles to model for us and we spent a couple hours that afternoon, wandering the area, taking photos and getting to know one another. I had never been to the West Bottoms before and the urban environment definitely pushed me outside of my comfort zone. The harsh mid-afternoon light was also a challenge, forcing me to embrace the contrast and find flattering light in the shadows. Several of the photographers there that day also showed me how they use some of their lighting equipment to offset the harsh light, inviting me to rethink the usefulness of flash.
In the end, I sweated a lot (it was HOT out that afternoon!), made some new connections, stretched myself beyond my comfort zone, and created some images I’m proud of.