Last week I took the opportunity to meet up with three fellow equestrian photographers, Rose, Laura & Louise, for an afternoon of idea sharing and education. All four of us are established photographers but have different styles and areas of expertise, so what better than the chance to throw around ideas and see how each other works whilst on a shoot.
Rose of Daydream Equine Art was kind enough to organise two wonderful models, Becky & Holly and their steeds Gypsy & Breeze. Rose led the photoshoot and it was interesting to see how she works with clients, including her favoured poses and methods of getting those pony ears pricked. Her octopus is now a personal favourite!
What I loved about the day and what continues on from my previous post about everyday being a school day, is that we were all able to learn something from each other by both discussing our knowledge and watching one another work. I often feel some photographers are wary of sharing their knowledge for fear that those whom they share it with will use it to their detriment being their competition. I don’t feel this way, as every true photographer has their own individual style which is evident in the photos that are produced. The four of us were photographing the same subjects, in the same light, in the same location at the same time, but yet all produced different but all equally appealing images. Clients come to me for my personal style and therefore I don’t feel threatened by other photographers as their clients are not necessarily my clients.
Knowledge sharing is why I love to collaborate with fellow photographers, and if honest I actually gain a lot of pleasure with seeing people progress with their work, which is why I also offer training and why I write this blog. All it takes is stopping and taking an afternoon here or there out of my diary to collaborate with others, and most importantly in that time listening. The smallest snippet of information can be hugely educational but so easily missed. These collaborations actually act as CPD (Continuous Professional Development) for me. I also attend various courses but learning from your peers is invaluable and in this case a lot cheaper!!
If you’re an amateur photographer why not find a group of local photographers who run meetings or group shoots. Most towns will have a photo club or group or similar which offer a great social and educational aspect. If there isn’t a local group you could find an online group. Facebook is full of them! Some are better than others, many are full of experts who love to dish out (not necessarily helpful!) advice but not take it, but if you take what you read with a pinch of salt and are prepared to jump in you can find some amazing fellow photographers who are willing to share their knowledge. I have a few small groups of fellow photographers who I know I can reach out to with questions without judgement and in turn they know they can expect the same from me. They also will offer honest constructive critique which has been an invaluable aid to improving my work.
Lastly the huge benefit which I have earlier glossed over is the social aspect. When you are self employed you don’t have work colleagues you can discuss everything from work to weather with! Instead this is where a trusted group of peers, in my case fellow photographers becomes a life line. If you don’t have such an outlet you will become very insular both with your work and personally. So yes in the words of Vanilla Ice stop, collaborate & listen, you will (hopefully!) thank me for it.