So… this is a tricky post to write. Because as someone who’s created a reputation as being transparent about nearly every aspect of my business, declaring it’s ok not to share absolutely everything is a little scary. But I think this post needs to be written, and not just for me! I think it needs to be said, because there seems to be a pervasive idea in the photo industry right now that everything & anything should be shared.
I’m not writing this post in irritation or frustration- I promise! I’m writing it because I want newer creatives to understand why they may be getting what they perceive to be a “cold shoulder” from some of the business owners they admire most.
We’re in an extremely unique industry at an extremely unique time. With movements like #shootandshare and #communityovercompetition, the push to encourage, celebrate, share with, and welcome the folks you might otherwise regard as your competition has never been stronger. And I love that! I still believe in all of those things!
But I think that the issue arises when people misunderstand those movements to mean “if I ask a question, I’m entitled to an answer” or “I deserve free, full answers to all my questions.” I’ve been an open book, freely blogging photography & business how-to’s for six years now, and let me be clear- I don’t regret doing any of that! I’ve loved being a resource for growing creatives, and I will continue to serve in that way!
We’ve come to a place, though, where I’ve started receiving emails or Insta DMs that hurt my heart just a bit, because in the contacting creative’s desire to express their desperation for answers, they’ll unintentionally throw my industry colleagues under the bus.
I’ll hear things like “I’ve reached out to so many other business owners and NO ONE has bothered to respond- can you answer my question?” or “Jeez, I can’t get anyone to get back to me- I’m hoping you’ll at least be able to help!”
I understand the desperation for answers; trust me, I do! But a crucial lesson that all new creatives need to understand is that you have to do the work. You have to put in the time, the effort, the trials and errors, and simply asking someone else for their advice or experience isn’t always the solution.
Or that even if asking for advice could be the solution, it’s ok for someone to choose not to share their wisdom. Perhaps it’s because they know that doing the work yourself will ultimately make you a more capable, self-sufficient business owner. Or maybe because they’ve spent years testing, failing, failing more, and ultimately succeeding, and because of how hard-earned that wisdom is, it’s not something they’re willing to dispense freely. And that’s ok.
Newer business owners, please understand that I’m not saying you shouldn’t ask questions. You SHOULD! Questions are the best way to learn! But I am saying that sometimes, those questions are best answered by going and trying for yourself. Or by paying to attend a workshop, be mentored, take a course.
Don’t ever stop asking questions. Just enter into that question knowing that it’s ok for the person you’re asking to decline to give an answer, and that a “no” doesn’t make them unkind and it doesn’t make you unworthy! It just means you’ll need to go out and do a bit of legwork to get that answer you’re seeking. And I truly believe that the ones who are willing to go out and do the work are the ones whose businesses will go the distance.