I’ve been thinking a lot lately about support and what it means. Is it something you can ask for, but not give back? Are we obligated to return the favor, or is it even important to worry about that?
If you’ve had a photo project on Indiegogo, or Emphas.is, or Kickstarter asking for money, I wonder: have you contributed to other photographer’s projects?
If you’ve got a book-signing coming up, or have published a book, did you buy someone else’s book, or go to their signing, or for that matter, their gallery opening? If someone wrote about you on their blog, did you read it? Did you promote the fact that they wrote about you, or did you also promote the writer? Do you even read other photography blogs, or only when they feature you?
As much as I can say there is a photography community in New York, I find myself questioning how much of it is self-interest and how much of it is reciprocal.
Now I don’t claim to be perfect in this regard. I often fall short of my goal of giving as well as hoping to receive. Even when something benefits me, I don’t always hold up my end of the bargain and promote it as well as I should. So I’m not here to claim perfection.
But it does make me wonder: Do you believe in being a lone wolf only thinking about your own career, or do you realize and promote the value of community?
Today I was clued in to a piece on Examiner.com in which a photographer wrote something about iconic photos, without crediting ANY of the photographers. As I read to the end of the piece, I saw the photographer was asking for people to contribute to him because he had his gear stolen.
So he couldn’t credit the people who risked their lives to take these “iconic photos,” but he could ask readers to give him money. Wow!
Things are difficult all over; there are new challenges all the time. And I would never say that you shouldn’t be looking out for yourself. I’m just wondering if you realize the benefits of joining together in support of each other.
Sometimes self-interest has to be balanced by the greater good; the greater needs of the community. How else can we protect and promote what is great about photography? I don’t mean scratch each other’s backs, I mean help others (if you can) to achieve their goals as well as your own.
Photographers have always been thought of as loners, and for some people they revel in that. But it’s through networking, and getting out, and talking with others, and reading about what’s going on that can help to create a stronger and more unified community.
A perfect example of this (and an example of where I think I fell down) was the FlashForward Festival in Boston last month. I was invited, as were several photographers to speak and be on panels. But there wasn’t enough promotion by those participating or support from the people in Boston, including the media. And so, a really fantastic group of speakers didn’t get through to a really great audience.
Why weren’t all of us promoting this festival in all of our social media platforms — and that goes for speakers AND visitors? And if that doesn’t happen, why are we not asking each other “why not”?
Have we all become too busy (or lazy) to get off our butts and really engage? Why do we accept the current status quo (the “new normal”) without speaking out against it if we disagree? Why are we so willing to just take it and move on? Do you think things will get better?
Can’t supporting each other be a mutually beneficial thing? For all the time it takes for you to post to FB about your vacation, or your family, or something you saw on the street, you can comment, you can call people to account. You can add your voice to others.
That’s how things change. That’s how you take control of shaping the future.