I have always believed it is the responsibility of the current generation to prepare the next. That applies just as much to photographers as it does any other industry, and in fact for life in general. But within creative industries, there seems to be a hesitancy among many to share knowledge. I’m not talking about giving away valuable knowledge for free, far from it. But there needs to be a willingness to offer guidance when asked appropriately.
Everyone starts at the bottom
No one is born a natural born anything. They may have natural skills and strengths that lend them to certain things, but they still have to learn. Some may soak up information like a sponge. They may have a natural ability in a certain subject, but they are not born as masters.
Everyone needs guidance towards their learning goal. Everyone has got to where they are because they had guidance and tuition. But once they are in a position that they can educate the next generation they shy away from it.
I actually look back to my own progress as a photographer. I remember in my earlier years hundreds of questions would swirl round my head. I reached out in many directions for answers. The internet, training courses, books and more. But in an equestrian sport environment, when not interfering with their job, I would ask questions of the professionals. Some would happily answer in depth. Others would offer a quick but still helpful answer. Some would politely say they didn’t have the time, again perfectly acceptable and understandable. But some were rude and condescending.
Those that offered that extra bit of help, along with those that were rude stick in my memory. I would happily help out the former but I would be less inclined the latter if they approached me in need of help now.
Creating inspiration not duplication
I believe where a lot of creatives get stuck is they think people will copy them. That the students will use the information to carbon copy their ideas and style. Each and every creative is inspired by others. It’s very very rare to see a truly unique idea now. But we can see new spins on existing concepts.
Just because someone learns a new technique doesn’t mean they will copy it. A good creative will absorb and adapt, then using it as a tool to advance their art. A new tool in the box so to speak.
The more we are willing to teach and share our knowledge the more tools we give the next generation to create their own inspiration and style.
Yes there are those that will copy another artist. There are numerous that do it all the time. Nothing will stop them either. So instead of locking away your secrets share them with those willing to learn. Whilst you educate your followers you can also educate them on the importance of finding their style.
Knowledge isn’t free
As much as it would be amazing for education to be free it’s not viable or practical in the world we live in.
We should expect to pay for quality training but if you look around there are some amazing resources for free. My own behind the magic series is a valuable resource to the developing photographer. Youtube offers countless video tutorials and google can lead you in the direction of almost unlimited tutorials and articles.
If though you expect personal advice, feedback or in depth assistance, that knowledge will come with an appropriate price tag.
Community not competition
By sharing knowledge more readily we have the ability to champion community over competition. As photographers we should be supporting, assisting and educating one another.
No time has that been more true than currently with the Covid pandemic decimating the industry. We need to be able to support our fellow photographers. We need to know if we can’t undertake a job we have like minded, suitably experienced peers to call upon. How can we expect that to happen if we’re not willing to share knowledge and ideas?
Educate the masses not just the photographers
A not often considered benefit of education is that it feeds past the student. Knowledge filters, people tell people. There are several areas of photography as a business that need help and education to the masses. Value and worth is a biggy. As of course is copyright. If as photographers we strive to educate other photographer we will ultimately educate the masses.
Although understanding copyright won’t help a photographer take a better photo, it will help them run a better business. It will of course also protect them from exploitation by others, intentional or otherwise.
I’m here to help
As I hope it is clear by now I want to help others learn. I offer my help in multiple ways. My articles, my online training, in person training, and hopefully in person workshops once Covid has gone away for good! If you time it right you may also find me in one of many online photography groups. Whenever I have time, and I see a post asking a question that grabs by attention I love to offer my viewpoint. I always welcome subjects to write about in my articles so if there is something you would like me to talk about let me know.
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