I want to shout this post loud and proud from the rooftops. It is something in the photography world that is a rare gem to find: community over competition.
And what exactly does this mean really, 'community over competition'? Well, when you're a photographer, you want clients. And sometimes, you are desperate for clients and you'll do anything to make sure a client books with you over someone else. It can get dirty. I've seen it. Photographers throwing others under the bus, cutting them down, underselling just to book a client. And it pains me to know that this is such a cutthroat industry I'm in -- an industry that soon will be my ONLY job (more on that later 😉).
However, what I have found the past couple of months is that it doesn't have to be this way -- that you can be a part of a wonderful uplifting, inspiring community that works with you to better yourselves together as photographers instead of being ruthless and snakes that are out to harm and undercut your business. And this is what I think all photographers should strive for: having a community that brings them up, makes them a better photographer, values their worth and work enough to not client grab just for the business but really embrace the clients that value them and see them for all that they do.
And I am so happy, so blessed to have found this. Especially now, with everything we've been going through with Clark, in the most busiest weeks of the year, having a community that lifts me up and is there for me in the hardest of times has been a literal Godsend.
I have talked about Victoria before, but I'm going to sing her praises again because SHE has been the epitome of community over competition. Technically we are each other's 'backups' for our birth clients (so if one of us cannot go for some reason to a birth, which has actually happened a few times!, the other one is up to go!) -- and it has worked out amazingly because our pricing is so similar, our style and editing is even more similar, and we just mesh well together!
We actually crossed paths a month or so ago when she came to take over snapping a birth for me when I had to go to one of my high-risk OB appointments I could not miss, and I sooooo regret not getting a selfie of us 'working'! But until that happens again, I give you this gem ^^^ from one of our lunch dates (with kiddos, obviously!!) we snapped last summer.
Victoria has been a lifesaver this past month and truly epitomizes the community over competition notion. She dropped everything to do our maternity photos literally 24 hours before Clark was born, was there the entire time before, during and after Clark's birth, and didn't even blink taking 20+ of my already booked sessions (honoring pricing, packages and location) and squeezed them into her already busy fall schedule. Obviously Clark's early arrival, right in the middle of my busy season, put a massive detour in my fall sessions...but having Victoria step in to handle them all was just freaking amazing. I think my clients appreciated it SO MUCH that they still got their fall snaps at their set location and price with a photographer who's pics look veryyyyy similar to mine.
I could have easily canceled all of my sessions, praying my clients would understand, and rescheduled them for later in the fall or in the spring...never offering them the option to still have their pics done with Victoria. But I didn't -- because I soooooo value the community I have, the relationship I have with Victoria and trust that my clients' would appreciate this setup much more than just canceling on them.
And you know what? I would do the exact same thing for Victoria (or heck, any other photog who asked me to) if she had an emergent situation come up and wasn't able to do a shoot (or twenty). Because that's what community does -- they are there for you, they uplift you, and they keep you afloat when things aren't going as expected for you. I have learned this SO MUCH in the aftermath of Clark's passing with our friends and family and their reach to us. But as far as photography job wise, my community has absolutely lifted me up in this time and I cannot express enough my gratitude for Victoria, my understanding clients, and everyone giving me space to recover from Clark's birth but also still fulfill their photography needs.
My advice: find your community. Not just your 'friends' community, but your professional community. Surround yourself with people that will lift you up rather than cut you down in whatever good, bad, untimely situation you are in...and do the same for others when they are in those spots. It truly makes even the hardest most trying situations so much better.
Victoria: if you're reading this, a million thanks to you my friend. I would be completely lost without you. Thank you for being such an amazing community to me always. Love you buddy!