Why you shouldn’t be discouraged by the stuffy old guard.
Are you just starting out in photography? You might not know it yet but have you ever taken out your iPhone to capture a moment and imagined beyond the normal straight on snap shot? Are you looking for that perfect composition to capture a more interesting image? This is the basis of photography, how you perceive what you see, whether you have 'the eye'. You post your images on social media and notice they receive more than the normal number of views and praise starts to come your way. You decide to buy your first DSLR at which point you become an amateur photographer, your interest builds with your skill level as you absorb as much learning in the art as possible. You continue to receive praise and constructive criticism from friends and family and you are starting to produce some really strong images. Then you come across Conservative Photographer.
Conservative Photographer is a pro who has been churning out average images for years and years, once in a while producing something strong. He has shot many average weddings, he has exhibited his work a number of times and has made a decent living. Now though, Conservative Photographer is a dangerous beast, failing to adapt and change with the times. He fears you. He is frightened you are going to create better images at a fraction of the price he charges. When he comes across you he will do all he can to batter you down, break your spirit and ultimately make you give up.
Conservative Photographer will bleat about his experience and how he used to shoot film. He will wear it like a badge of honour in an attempt to generate feelings of inadequacy in you like it matters. I used to shoot film, but only because I was born before 1990, that's it. The image above was shot to film when I was 16 years old using a wide angle, single use, instant Kodak camera. If I re-lived the above scene with today's technology as my tool I would have captured the same image on my iPhone. There are two points here. Firstly, youth and inexperience do not prevent you from being an amazing artist. Experience is to be respected but it is not everything. Secondly, the gear does not make the artist. Good gear provides you the opportunity to get the very best you are capable of; do not be intimidated by the pro body with battery grip, big glass and multiple flash guns that Conservative Photographer is waving in your face.
Conservative Photographer will be unhelpful. He will be pompous, often rude and unwilling to share any of his knowledge in a vain attempt to maintain the position he feels he is entitled to after all these years. He will complain that, 'everyone thinks they are a photographer these days' because he is afraid of the increased competition that now exists.
I pity the joyless existence of Conservative Photographer. Like him, I am very serious about the work I produce and a professional attitude will rarely see you go wrong. However, it is possible to be serious and fun at the same time and take joy in creating your work. Do not be conservative with your photography, be progressive and like with all art, change, adapt and do it all with a sense of humour and fun. Why do you think things like Instagram are so popular?
The internet and modern technology have changed the world very quickly over the last twenty years, taking control away from the greedy few and putting it into the hands of the masses. Like the music and film industries, photography will never be the same again. If you want to be a successful photographer do not let greed rule. Share your knowledge, be gracious and let your work speak for itself.
Conservative Photographer, get out of my way. Your time is done.