|This photo is totally irrelevant to anything else in this post.|
The other day, Lemonade and Lenses posted a question that created quite a bit of buzz. If you're unfamiliar with Lemonade and Lenses, it is a photography magazine founded by photographer Lexi Vornberg, and based out of Cincinnati, Ohio. It features articles on all genres of photography, from weddings to seniors to newborns, and I've found some great advice within its pages. I even had the pleasure of meeting Lexi this last summer, and she's just as sweet in person as she is online! I'm linking this to the actual post [and if you sift through the comments, you'll even find mine in there], but I'll copy and paste, as well:
Topic of discussion for the day (please keep your comments and thoughts kind).
You search and search for the perfect locations to take your clients to. Spending hours and hours and not to mention gas driving around searching. After posting images of your new location, a local photographer asks you where you took that image. Do you share the location with them or not?
Whether you are a photographer or not, you probably have your immediate response to this. And I think the reason this question stuck in my head for so long after reading it was that I realized if it had been presented to me even a year ago, I would have responded differently. You see, dear reader, I am a much more competitive person than I would like to admit. And I say that even with the knowledge that I have toned it down over the past few years. I did the most push-ups in the girls division for the physical education testing in junior high and high school not because I have good upper body strength [see: spaghetti noodle arms], but because I didn't want anyone else getting a higher number than me. I hate admitting when I'm wrong, and used to like arguing a little too much. I am someone who likes to be the best at everything.
But you know what? With age and experience, comes wisdom! And I have much more wisdom to come my way [or at least I really hope so!], but a key piece of information that I have accepted is that there will always be someone better than you. Always. It is impossible to be THE best. But the best thing you can do for yourself, is strive to better yourself, and constantly improve. If you had asked me a couple years ago if I would share those special, much-sought-after locations I use for photos, I would say 'of course not'. I probably wouldn't have thought twice about it, either. But as you can see from my comment, if you dove in there, I have had a change of heart. My logic now, is this: Why not share that perfect location? It simply gives you the motivation to find a new, better place. One that no one has found yet. And sure, someday down the road, someone will find it, but chances are, someone found it before you did! No one is stealing your ideas or images by using the same spot you are; even if they try to, they won't replicate it. I see so many artists, photographers or not, who hold on so tightly to one or two images that they somehow feel are champions to their catalog of work [I'm just as guilty of doing it!] when they should be fleshing out new pieces. The only way we improve is to keep going.
My other way of looking at this scenario, is this - think about what you're giving this other photographer by sharing your location with them. If you're at all hesitant about revealing this place, there must be something great to it. Amazing color, perfect light, gorgeous landscape - those things that give your heart a little flutter just thinking about. Pass along those happy flutters to someone else! Pay it forward! [God, wasn't that movie a trip? I used that phrase and immediately remembered it; saw it for the first time last year and totally didn't see that ending coming. Whew.] Who knows - maybe someday that photographer will find a location that you are dying to use, and they'll share it with you! Win win! [Now that movie, on the other hand, was just awful. Haven't heard of it? Good. If you're a die hard Paul Giamatti fan, I'm sorry. Email me and we can talk about it.]
You've probably heard it, or seen it in calligraphy on a Pinterest board somewhere, but this quote from Conan O'Brien is one of my very favorites, and one that I always strive to live by: "If you work really hard, and are kind, amazing things will happen." It is absolutely true, and I am grateful even on the worst of days for how far that simple truth has pushed me forward in doing what I love to do.
So be kind. Remember that life is short, and that helping others can go a long way.
And with that, don't watch Win Win.