I've seen plenty of things in certain photography groups that have hacked me off in my time but for some reason what I saw recently was the final straw. "More stay at home mums will get DSLRs for Christmas and think they're a photographer" read the post. Followed by others ranting about this perceived influx. It was almost Daily Mail-esque in its scare mongering: "They're coming to take your jobs".
It's not just that though, we hear these things all the time from photographers, complaining about so called "Weekend Warriors" (people who run a photography business on the side of a day job), self-taught photographers, anything new and different. According to some photographers the industry has gone to the dogs. They look back on the good old days... when photography was for the elite and equipment was out of reach. The golden age.
Well I say: balls to the golden age. Things are better now.
I dare say that if you look down on that person who got a camera for Christmas and is totally excited and can't wait to play and doesn't care if that shot is perfect because it's better than anything they've taken before… if you look at them and roll your eyes and wince… if you really can't relate to how they feel… that excitement... then maybe you're not in the right business anyway, maybe you need to rekindle that feeling in your own work. Because if you don't understand that feeling, if you're taking technically great photos but you don't look at them and think "I love doing this" then you are that photographer at that wedding who doesn't want to be there. How is your business ever going to survive in the face of talented, passionate people rising up in the business and how can you blame anyone except yourself? Has the industry gone to the dogs or has a passion for the job becoming an absolute essential for success… because it's no longer a position that people settle for but something that people aspire to.
Now, I'm not saying that we aren't facing challenges in the industry. The value of photography is something that I wish we could all just sit down and have a chat about. I want to give that awesome photographer that I see undervaluing their work my best mum-face (and as many can confirm, my mum-face is pretty damn good) and I'd like to charge more myself. I'm not saying things are perfect, however this myth that it's no longer possible to make a living as a wedding photographer and that other people with cameras are your enemy is total nonsense. If you're threatened by other people's creativity it's possible that you're not nurturing or appreciating your own enough. It's your responsibility to make yourself better, not the duty of others to perform worse than you.
The best photographers these days know that embracing other people, including newbies, in the industry is so much more gratifying than being that person who tears down other people's work with childish insults thinly veiled as "critique". I'm lucky to be part of groups that are supportive, positive places to be. Not only does it make being a sole trader feel a little less isolating but it means that there is help there when you need it, there are people to share bookings that you can't take on with and to share with you in return. Having someone's back is always better than looking for opportunities to stab them in it. A good support network means a bigger shared knowledge and a better business as a result. Yes, the industry is crowded however I believe this means that, rather than doing it by the book, shooting a wedding your own way and following your own voice is not only possible these days but essential to running a successful business. And isn't that so much more exciting for wedding photography as a whole?
So really now, can we all just please stop this hysteria? Getting all het up about the accessibility of DSLRs is as daft as a sculptor saying there's no living to be made because clay is so cheap. The real threat isn't their camera, it's your own attitude.
Here's to all those people out there will say "I was at this wedding once and the photographer was bloody awesome", "That photographer felt like one of the family", "Wedding photographers are really passionate about what they do".
Yeah... balls to the golden age.