I have been wanting to write this down for a while now, so here goes. Several weeks ago I posted a very simple question on a stock photography group on Linkedin and it read more or less:
"Alamy or Shutterstock? Hello, everyone. Would love some thoughts on these two companies, wanting to join a new library.... Yada yada....has anyone experience with either?"
What followed wasn't a few friendly opinions, it was basically a torrid of "sod off, we don't want you, there's enough here already". Now I am not a seasoned pro on stock, it's only in the last year that I have been shooting it, I was shooting for one company but had decided it wasn't a fit so was looking for another and was just curious on the two companies mentioned. However, one look at my CV/portfolio and you can tell that photography is my job, So I would expect something a little less hostile, but this was not the case.
I have a tendency to be drawn into these things, which is why I have stopped posting anything opinion related at all on any photography comments page what-so-ever, but I defended myself of course. Which made things worse, of course. Someone got snippy and suggested that I wouldn't like it if he came into my genre and shot interiors for free/or at all, I said that I couldn't care less what he did, it's not my business. Another photographer waded in and blah blah blah. It went on and on. Utterly pathetic.
But this isn't the first time I have seen this. Recently a new starter asked some questions on LinkedIn and she got ripped apart. "Don't waste your time. Your images are rubbish" that kind of unhelpful thing. A well known photography blog is full of these "I know better, you're rubbish, I've been working for XYZ years (they always start with that!) comments.
I might be in the minority here but I believe that photographers should help/encourage the up and comers, or anyone who might have a question about anything in the industry, and frankly I don't care what you do, how much you charge, as long as I'm doing what I'm doing and well with my clients then, really who cares?
Twitter for all it's faults can be an amazing tool. Almost daily I see landscape photographers sharing ideas, info, tricks and tips. The photographers who enter Landscape Photographer of the Year should be taking a bow right now because from what I've read, you guys are a shining example of this "crowd sharing". The film photographers are the same. This is a genre we all love, yes, we have opinions, quite often very strong ones. But what good does it do to be negative when one of our own asks for help?
Last year I helped out a photographer on how to edit interior shots, I asked him to send over a RAW file and I gave him some pointers. Fair to say he was shocked by my willingness to help. That's strange to me. I'm not silly I didn't give all my tricks away that I've spent ages working on but really, what's the alternative? Be an idiot and maybe potentially lose out on a contact I might need down the line or hell, a friend? I'll happily promote other peoples blogs and photos, why wouldn't you? Because it will hurt you? It won't, if anything it will help you, I firmly believe that.
So not be helpful to those that ask or even those that don't? Nope, "balls to that". Photography is massive now, you cannot stop people from wanting to be a part of it. If you want it, and willing to put the graft in you can "make it" (reference to previous blog post). But don't be an arse doing it, you might need the help of people you kicked in the gut later if you stumble. Think.
Best wishes, your friendly neighbourhood photographer
p.s to those unhelpful photographers that were in that thread, because of you I made a contact and offered some work.... So yeah! ;)