Well… maybe it is the change of weather. Maybe it is simply a function of the internet allowing a diverse level of interaction. The great democratization of opinion and content.

I dunno. But it seems designed to actually create a more divisive institution. And we know what happens when we get divided… we become more weak than strong. As they say, “we hang together or we hang separately”. Not a pretty thought, but actually becoming a possibility.

I guess there are still folks who believe that the running down of someone else somehow elevates themselves. While the empirical evidence runs to the contrary, the tendency seems to be as strong as ever. Let me ask you this: How does humiliating someone else give you more credibility? I mean really… not the temporary sound of applause from the temporary ‘fans’ of any kind of cat-fight. When you attack another photographer do you see a bounce in your business? Do you? If so, please let us all now in the comments.

In my experience it does not bring anything positive to anyone who chooses the route of ‘hater’…

In the ‘old days’ there was always a brick wall of superiority thrown up by the ‘Commercial’ shooters toward their counterparts in the ‘Consumer’ photographers. “Wedding Photographer” was some sort of derogatory term in some commercial circles. Sad. I sat with a lot of photographers who would simply indicate that there was nothing of value in being a wedding photographer. Recently, wedding photographers have had their opportunity to laugh back… and many of the ‘commercial’ shooters who hated wedding photographers have become pretty successful wedding photographers. And some ‘consumer’ photographers have crossed successfully into the ranks of ‘commercial’.

And I don’t hear those kind of discussions these days. There are different paths and decisions that are made in both types, but there seems to be a more common respect for the craft.

Enter them dang interwebs (still think they are a fad, Michael) and the new platforms of balkanization, the tearing apart of a strong group to form smaller, less powerful groups.

There are so many wonderful places to discuss, learn and focus on photography out there. Whether you are a wedding, fine art, commercial, editorial, landscape or portrait photographer, there are great and inspirational websites to visit. Simply, it is an unprecedented time in photography… educational sources abound, gear is cheap, bar to entry is lower.

The demands for success never higher. Ever.

And then we start to tear ourselves new ones. We start the hating. “We are ‘______’ shooters, and all else suck.” “Natural light is ‘TRUE’ photography.” “Film is back… so long digital squirrels.” “Photoshop ruins Photography”. “In order to shoot a wedding one must have a camera like mine, and keep it in a Pelican Case…” The absurdity of those statements are laughable… and unfortunately all too common.

And if that is not enough, we now have photographers attacking other photographers by name. To what end does it lead? What is gained?

Those of you who know much about me know I love jazz. I don’t give a damn whether you do or not. You may like Rap – which I can not listen to for more than 21.567 seconds (I know, I checked). I don’t care if you do. I really don’t. I hope you enjoy the music you listen to. Even banjo music. Even B Spears. I don’t care.

So if I come out and say: “Britney Spears sounds like two mating cats who just discovered they hate each other – in the middle of the mating act”… what does that do for my love of jazz? While I may sound more like Simon than Paula, will you somehow think more of jazz now? Does my love of jazz feel better now that I have that off my chest? Does that further the conversation on music? Or does it kill any possible interaction between me and BSpears folks on the merits of their, and my, favorite music?

I have always found that being comfortable with myself meant that it was OK for others to be comfortable with their choices as well. It’s fine with me if you listen to rap. I don’t care if you like the Huffington Post, I could care less if you love reading romance novels. I just don’t care.

We saw it recently with the YouTube video of the idiot JJB taking a photographer to task for… I don’t know, the fool simply ranted on about “1Series” and “Pelican Cases” and all the other ‘non-related to the case’ crap that belittled the photographer and elevated the “Stupid Gearhead” mentality to celebrity status. (Before you go toward a “well, I thought we weren’t sposed to hate nobody crap… I will ALWAYS stand with a photographer being attacked unfairly. I will ALWAYS work to understand the photographers side, and I will always try to help them though the challenge instead of eagerly throwing them under the bus in an attempt to build my self worth.) I will not stand quiet when a photographer decides to go all ballistic against other photographers. That is a silly and destructive choice and I will stand with the group.

I saw a very big name wedding photographer ($10K or so) taking great glee in the sad photographer being humiliated and ruined on national television. Oooh… was she a threat to him and other $10K shooters? And was her demise a line item gain for them?

Now we see photographers ranting about people’s religion, and telling them to shut up about their beliefs. And “I’ve seen many of your images. I’d pay 20 cents for them, and not a penny more. That’s how bad some of you suck. Sorry.“.. really opens the dialogue, eh?

I wrote a rebuttal to this type of elitist, divisionalist crap, and one of the commenters took the opportunity to call a wedding photographer out by name and refer to him as a conman. A personal one-on-one attack that has been made public. And, well, I don’t understand the need to do that.

The ‘famous’ blogger photographers are attacked by other photographers for being famous. What? Fame is not something you buy, it is something that is conferred upon you. Conferred by the ones making you famous. A few photographer-bloggers have had tremendous success in gathering a pretty substantial audience. That is to be applauded, not derided. If they are providing information that other people want to read, then need be no other reason than that for their success.

I am reading now that photographers who do these blogs are just trying to milk another dollar from their work. As if that was a bad thing. Seriously, do you not see the incredible straw-man in this argument? From framing to marking up expenses, every photographer and business person I know seeks to maximize their assets. And knowing this stuff, and knowing how to write about it to make it interesting and educational as well is an asset. “Milking a dollar” has such a terribly negative connotation. Maximizing assets sounds better.. so why do photographers choose the negative choice when discussing other photographers? Why?

I suppose that selling photographs that were taken sometime previous for use would be considered “Milking the dollars” out of the images. Some other people call it Stock. And making copies of an image, several copies of an image for God’s sake, and selling them is also “Milking the Dollar”? Or is it print sales?

Seriously, folks… seriously.

From successful sites with fun BTS videos, to blogs on business, there are people who are unhappy with them. And I am left to wonder why? What does someone’s success or failure have to do with me. Or you?

Given the choice, I root for success. For my friends, for my competitors, for students, for strangers… Success is a wonderful thing. When I see a business closing… whether it is a small book store, a pizzaria or a photography studio, I know there was tremendous sadness there. Dreams lost, savings spent, personal tragedy that is palpable. I don’t feel glee, a sense of ‘gotcha’ or superior because I am still in business. I hope you feel that way too.

Rooting for failure seems so, well, petty. Small.

I love photography. Love it. Spent most of my life involved with photography. As a photographer doing it, as a Creative Director hiring it, as a designer shooting it, and as a writer writing about it. I don’t have any desire to do anything else, really. I love looking at photographs, and spend hours doing it. There are some photographers I love and some I don’t… but I look at it all.

So today’s rant ends up with a couple of questions for you:
1. When you hoist that flag of hate and humiliation, what value has been created for your life?
2. Telling everyone that will listen that so-and-so is a real schmuck, and has no value other than to ‘screw’ the stupid legions of fans they have… what does that really mean? To me, that is… what does that mean to me?

Look… bottom line. If you don’t see any value in blogging. Don’t blog.
If you think that some photographer somewhere is “milking the dollar” don’t buy. (Believe me, if the guy is a schmuck and ripping people off, the ripped off will take care of it on their own. It’s called the free market. I believe people are smart enough to make the right choices most of the time and don’t really need to be ‘protected’ by someone for whom the motivations themselves are questionable… ya know.)
If you don’t think that a workshop makes sense for you, don’t go?
If you think that prices are too low, price yourself where you want to be. Fight for the market.
If you are bothered by the success of another, take an audit of why that is, and work on it.

Glass houses make terrible shooting ranges…

And worse – it makes us more vulnerable to outside attack. It allows us to be manipulated and coerced by tribe. We end up with trade associations fighting other trade associations… to the glee of those who can benefit from that divisiveness. And that, as they say, sucks.

Enough for a Tuesday morning…

Follow me on Twitter. Check out my Workshops page (oh, yeah… I do workshops, so I guess that makes me a schmuck too… jeez, I forgot about that), if you are seeking to do a workshop this year.

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