Should You Ignore Your Local Photography Community?
I'm a member of a local photography Facebook page here in Orlando, and today I saw this graphic:
It's so true. Whenever we post our work online it's always picked up and/or praised by the national and international photography communities, but never by our local one. So we sat around Spectacle Photo today wondering why that is, and we've come to a conclusion: the bad eggs ruin photography communities for everyone, locally speaking. You see, to have any kind of voice in the international community you need to have reached a certain level of professionalism and quality as a photographer. To have a voice locally, you don't need anything. Any no-talent egomaniac can get online and blast nonsense on local groups and forums, and since the local groups are smaller, nonsense can leave more of an impact.
Who are the bad eggs, you ask? Here's the top five douchebags bringing down local scenes everywhere:
1. The Complainer
You’ve heard from this guy a lot. He’s the guy complaining that they sell DSLR’s at Best Buy for so cheap. He complains about everyone these days claiming to be “photographers”(always in parenthesis, just to add some extra doucheyness). He goes on and on about how everything in the world is holding him back. The economy, the photography community, photo software, available talent, etc. You name it, he complains about it.
This guy will forever be stuck in Nowheresville, and he only has himself to blame.
2. The Gear Snob
The Gear Snob is the guy running around letting everyone know he thinks their equipment sucks. “So, THAT’S your lens?”. Your photos will be judged by the equipment you took them with, and he'll always be there to let you know what "you need". Then he proceeds to take garbage photos with unnecessary equipment he doesn’t know how to use, if he even takes pics at all. Most of the time he just stands around talking about how you should get the new Canon being released next month or just quit photography.
3. The Socially Awkward Jerk
You’ll find TSAJ at any local photography gathering or forum. He loves to tell the models their poses are amateur, they aren’t pretty enough for the shots he wants, and then he’ll creepily ask them to do a shoot at his house. He openly lets other photographers know they’re doing everything wrong, and that his way is better. You can always count on TSAJ to tell you how successful he is and why you’re not.
After awhile you’ll see him all alone, awkwardly taking photos of birds right before he goes home and uploads them on his broken website with his homemade logo plastered all over them.
4. The Photoshop Bandit
Oh Photoshop Bandit, how I hate you. He’s always online, dropping comments on your pics telling you how you should fix everything about them in photoshop. Then he’ll get busy uploading his pics of models, or what used to be models until he got them into Photoshop and turned them into blurry, plastic abominations. This modern day Frankenstein cuts, clones, spot colors, and liquefies his way into a garbage photo nirvana, all while laughing at your conservative adjustments. Don’t worry, you too can over-process your photos, just click on the tutorials that he made of himself butchering photo after photo. This guy only exists within local communities because his work is terrible, and national and international outlets don't recognize him in any way.
Step away from Photoshop and put your hands in the air, Photoshop Bandit. You’re under arrest for crimes against photography.
5. The 90’s Photographer
This guy, in my opinion, is the worst. He is what truly crushes the spirit of local photography communities. In the late 90’s, he was making bank. Bad photo editing was allowed back then because photo editing of any kind was impressive, so he never tried getting good with editing software. He didn’t have to. Fast forward to now: his photography looks old and dated, his fanbase has dwindled to nothing, and he’s very, very bitter. If you post a photo, he’s there to dump on it. If you have a new business idea, he’s there to tell you he’s done it and it won’t work. Instead of helping you, he’d rather take his photography knowledge, locations, client referrals, and anything else useful he knows/has and throw it all in the garbage.
Because of the recession that happened years ago, this guy’s bitterness is in full force. Be wary of him, because he’ll do anything he can to hold his local photography community back so he can worm his way back into the limelight.
The people on this list, of course, are the extreme cases. Just because a photographer complains doesn't make him destructive, and not every photographer working in the late 90's is a raging douche-a-holic. Sadly though, these people do exist, and they ruin the party for everyone. With their forces combined, they bring down entire local communities with their inflated ego's and negativity.
So what do you do about it? Refuse to participate. If you don't engage with these people, they can't affect you in any way. No matter how awesome or crappy your photos are, there will always be someone there to try and tell you how bad they suck. There's nothing you can do about it, and there just happens to be more haters in local networks. Local communities aren't going to change, these people will always be there. It's not worth arguing online about photography, there's no end to it. When someone is being a jerk on one of your posts, just ignore it. Don't respond, don't delete it, just ignore it. When someone tells you you can't do something in the photography industry, just ignore them and do it anyway.
The best thing to do within a local community platform is show your work. That's it. People will see it, like it or hate it, and your job is done. When you go online, just post your photos and leave. Drop the mic.