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How to become a "Better" photographer: Community over competition!

Growing as a photographer by learning from other creatives with communication!

A behind-the-scenes shot of Tori (photographer) at her first photography meet-up.

Model: Brandi D. via Instagram @bhope00

Starting as a photographer can seem like you are lost in a desert with no direction on where to go. You have your gear, you take your photos and you post to your social media pages, but feel there is more to be desired. What I have learned in the few years I have been doing this is getting involved with other creatives, no matter the medium, always sparks the creative flame. Reaching out to other creatives online just by a simple comment or DM of appreciation can go a long way in opening a line of future communication. A lot of the photographers that I know in the community are people that I have met through Instagram.

Going forward I will discuss things that I have found helpful in interacting and being part of a creative community. These have helped me grow as a photographer and have helped with social anxiety!

Simple Social Media Support

Reaching out to other people can put a lot of stress on someone who is not normally one to reach out to strangers and start conversations. This is exactly where I started! I took everything one step at a time and simply started by liking and commenting on a post of local creatives that I admired. It's important to be genuine and not just post a comment for the sake of posting which social media is infamous for putting pressure on. Instagram now has a way to favorite your favorite creatives so you can filter what you see or even my personal favorite is back; the chronological order. I also love to be part of local photography groups on Facebook. I get to see what the community is up to and ask questions we have. One of my favorite things to do is share the work of my favorite creatives through my stories. From keeping in contact with these creatives I was able to feel comfortable meeting them in real life for photography meet-ups. Even after moving states away I am still involved with this community and have taken this process to meet new creatives out of state. I am continuing to grow my creative circle!

Keeping the Lines of Communication Open

I started by engaging with local creatives that I truly admire. I started small by setting a small goal of trying to leave just 3 comments a day. There were days that I just struggled with this task! As each day went on I started having small conversations with these creatives which grew into more personal connections. It caused a snowball effect where I was able to comment and discuss photography more often with people and pull back on the social boundaries I had. Eventually came the day I was invited to a photography meet-up, I was nervous. "I am a good enough photographer to meet these people" or "Will I be able to have conversations without coming off as a weirdo?" were the main thoughts that ran through my head. Glad to say we're all weird and have a beat of our own drum. From then on I was bit by the creative bug and felt I was able to focus on my social barriers. I reached out to more people each day via social media. Being more hands-on with local collaborations was a huge part of my growth as a creative/photographer. I try to be involved with any questions that others may have by providing resources. In return, I have found that there are so many others who are willing to help and support me as well.

"Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing." – Rollo May

Collaborations and Meet-Ups

Finding a local photography community is normally just a group search away or even searching your local photography hashtags. If you are new to photography you can exchange your time and developing skills with a new model who is in a similar scenario. Being able to work together will not only provide work for a growing portfolio but can teach each other about the process. Trial and error can have some growing pains, but I find it's always a good learning experience. Last year I hosted my first photo meet up which eventually led me to host a photography fundraiser within the same year. All of these people that I have met and worked with at prior meet-ups came together to give back to our community. This year I have moved to another state and found there were a lot of people in the community, but they have not met up for a photography meet-up and spoke often of doing so. I put myself out there and got some creatives together to make this happen. I will be having my first NC photographer meet-up this Saturday, April 23rd and I could not be more excited about it!

Shoot for a Cause, August 7th, 2021. Location: PopUp SpeakEasy, Roslyn, NY

Instagram @popupspeakeasy

Community Over Competition

Lastly, keeping an open mind and making small goals can make your creative process more enjoyable. Challenging yourself daily will grow your skills. Being closed off can make you feel alone in the process and overwhelmed. Reach out, get involved, and don't be scared to ask questions. We were all new at this at some point! If you are kind and respectful others will be drawn to you and your work. If you ever have any photography questions please feel free to reach me via DM on Instagram @ Toriskyephoto or my contact page through my website. Stay creative my friends!

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