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Competition. Negativity. Plagiarism. Criticism. Jealousy. Just what you want to read about when building your business, right?
What happened to creativity? Happiness? Emotion? Celebration? Camaraderie? Over the last few weeks, I’ve been hesitant to scroll through my newsfeed or scan my Facebook groups for fear of reading about another respected photographer being accused or even outed for stealing. Photographers are being criticized for styles of photography that aren’t what other photographers prefer. Seriously, it’s happened at least five times just this week. What is happening to the industry? Why is everyone so quick to attack? Why so much tearing down?
We’ve all been there. After trolling through blog after blog, website after website, you find a few that you love. You love everything about the styles, the wording, the photographers, the images. But, after seeing so many websites, your own words are most definitely influenced by what you’ve already heard or read somewhere else. I get that anxiety when I write for this blog every week. Are my words going to sound original or did I read this somewhere else and forget to bookmark it? Have I seen this title somewhere else? Was I influenced TOO much by that last blog I read that sparked an idea for mine?! Yikes.
Don’t get me wrong, outright stealing or plagiarizing is WRONG. You know when you’ve done it. You don’t have to sit there and question whether the wording is too similar or if the ideas are the same. Someone that does that sort of thing KNOWS they’ve done it. If you are questioning it, then first off…DON’T do it. Don’t take the chance. It’s not worth the end result. That doesn’t mean you can’t get inspiration from other photographers and websites. But when you start to let their words become your words, you lose yourself. You hurt them. Just identify what you like about their wording, is it the style or the format? Is it the simplicity or the detail? Then use your own words to make it work for you. No one creates in a bubble. We are all influenced in one way or another by everything around us. Hello, PINTEREST?! But letting those outside influences dull your creativity will only keep you from growing and succeeding.
So, what’s a photographer to do today?
- Encourage one another and celebrate achievements, even if it hurts a little. You’re human. You’ll most likely feel tinges of jealousy. That’s alright. Own it and move on. Good stuff will happen for you if you work hard enough.
- Be open to the possibility that you have areas that need improvement. Don’t be quick to criticize because another photographer happens to have started a trend and you don’t like it. So what. To each his own. Do what you love, even if you won’t love it in six months. Or don’t do it. But don’t put negativity out there to snowball faster than a mean girl can roll her eyes.
- Confess and be honest. I have a confession. A section of my website was similar to another photographer’s that I had read a few months ago. My price structure is original (not copied from anyone else), but my wording was just too close for comfort. Guess what? I changed it. I didn’t think I’d plagiarized but I’d admired the way that a few photographers had described their price sections and those ideas all meshed in my head late one night. I would hate for anyone to feel that I used their words, even if it was just to state my pricing. Can we patent adjectives and descriptions? Can we patent poses? Of course not. But we can also respect another photographer just as we would hope to be respected.
In the end, competition may light a fire in you but it should not be the driving force of your success. If it is, then you have yet to find your true passion. My guess is behind every business mogul or photographer rockstar, there’s a skeleton or two in the closet. There’s a mess waiting to be dealt with, be it in failed relationships, overdue housework, or burnt dinners. But why must we be waiting for that rockstar’s skeletons to be found instead of celebrating success with them?
I’d love to celebrate YOUR business over on SSG’s FACEBOOK wall, won’t you join me?