Three years ago – I wrote an article for the Digital Photography School about filtering advice from other photographers. Looking back – I don’t think I was the most qualified candidate to be talking about certain things – I mean – I was incredibly green at the time and very, very, veryyyyyyy new to the world of photography. For example – I had only been at it for a year or so, barely had my business up and running, shot a handful of clients and still had so much to learn. (Ahem. I still have a lot to learn.) But my passion for writing and photography go hand in hand – and I was so excited to have a platform to speak about some of the things that I was experiencing. So I wrote —
During my time of transition from photojournalist to professional photographer – I had a million questions. Seriously – a million questions. Everything from technical to business and the in-between. But – I truly didn’t know who to ask, what to ask, how to ask and what advice to take or leave.
I stumbled upon the article I wrote the other day as I was looking through some old files and I thought it would be fun to revisit some of the tips and to give them all a new take.
So – whether you have been shooting for 6 months or 6 years – my hope is that these tips will help you when you are seeking the advice from others. Because over the past few years – as I continue to grow and learn as a photographer – these are the things that have helped me navigate through a world of abundant information, ebooks, online courses and so many willing to help and offer advice.
Consider the source.
Three years ago I wrote in the article about taking time to look up others backgrounds, credentials and experience. I compared it to a job interview. Well — over the years – I didn’t always take my own advice. Have you ever purchased learning materials, books or other things online – because – WOW. They look amazing. Everyone is saying AMAZING things about them…they MUST be amazing and so on. Granted, I have purchased some stellar products and have taken some incredible courses over the years- but I have also been really let down. In those moments where I was feeling let down and underwhelmed, it was because I didn’t do the research. If it sounds so, so, SO amazing and perfect and incredible and pretty and gorgeous and “TO GOOD TO BE TRUE” it most likely is. Things are more accessible than ever – classes and ebooks are at our finger tips – when it comes to investing in your photography education – take the time and DO the research, ask a trusted friend for recommendations or contact the teacher/mentor themselves. How long have they been shooting, how long have they been teaching, what are the reviews on said course or products, what platform are they teaching on and so on and so forth.
Listen closely, be respectful but don’t take any of it personal.
There was a time a period of time where I worried so hard and so long about what others thought about me. It hurt me to the core when others didn’t like my work and I would take things way, way too personally when it came to my work and especially photos that I had fallen in love with.
Am I allowed to love my photos? YES.
Were they good? That is debatable. I am sure they were good to my standards and with my mom goggles on – but I needed improvement.
Should I have taken the comments personally and to the grave? Nope.
If you are going to take the time to go to someone, ask for their help and are looking for honest and heartfelt opinions about your work – be prepared to hear things that you might not be expecting to hear. Not only are they going to see things about your work that you won’t – but there is opportunity to learn, grow and improve – just don’t take it personally.
Some of the best advice I have received from others – I didn’t completely agree with. Is that wrong? NO. I was able to take what I needed from what they were expressing to me and apply it to my shooting, style and voice.
Turn off the noise.
I give this tip a lot. It can be used in all kinds of contexts and scenarios and is definitely helpful when filtering advice from others. I will ping-pong this off the first tip – when you are considering the source and looking to gain and garner advice from others — be selective. Information overload can be overwhelming, cause thoughts of doubt and can overall be confusing. For example – have you ever asked for advice in a group setting and got thirty different answers? Who do you listen to? What do you take from that? I say confide in two or three very, very trusted friends when running ideas or thoughts by them, especially when you are looking for honest and heartfelt advice or thoughts on something really important to you. While I am a huge fan of groups and love them for all kinds of various reasons – group settings don’t always garner the best constructive criticisms.
I sincerely think there is no say all, be all, do all answer when it comes to photography. If you haven’t noticed – we all have our own take, spin and ideas when it comes to our own artwork. We all have different gear, different editing techniques and thoughts. In such a diverse industry filled with incredible talent – there is so much room for connection, learning and growth. Just know that there are so many photographers who are willing to help others — and are darn good at it. Personally, I feel that if we are seeking advice we need to be just as prepared, ready to do the research and to take the time to seek these incredible individuals out. Here is a quick list of just some of the resources that I have used over the years and completely and totally trust —
Clickin’ Moms. From the forum to the ebooks to the workshops. I am a ClickPro at this organization and know there are some incredibly talented ladies who work tirelessly to offer some amazing educational products. If you aren’t a part of the forum – I encourage you to join. There is a wealth of knowledge there.
Dana Pugh’s Online Pricing Course This course came to me at a time when I truly needed it. Dana is heartfelt, honest and relatable. She is passionate, caring and helpful. I could go on and on about how much I loved this course. I highly recommend this course if you are in business and really want to be honest with yourself, the numbers and to set some serious goals. Best part – full access to a wonderful alumni group online that is priceless.
Introspection and Analysis with The Rusty Lens After being denied from a pro program twice – I needed something. Anything. I needed help. Serious help. And this workshop was just that. I was able to take a serious look at my work, set goals and look at trends, how to better asses where I was going and what I needed and so on and on. This course was cram packed with so much info that I left feeling like a brand new photographer ready to take pictures of the entire world. Courtney is dedicated, thorough and freaking smart. She mentors and has an amazing take on everything. She is one person whose opinion I truly trust – especially when it comes to photos.
Xanthe Berkeley Make Films Course This course was FUN. When it comes to what we are doing – we need to be having fun while we are learning. Xanthe makes that possible. She is a true inspiration and her style of teaching will make you want to pick up your camera and keep going. She is heartfelt, sweet and kind and I would take the course again and again.
I have a list a mile long of books I have read as well as other ebooks that I love — too many to name. I think you catch my drift. As always – if you have any questions ever or need anything – shoot me a message.