When I first started out freelancing I worked with a number of small local photographers. I was doing anything that I could to gain experience and knowledge. I assisted where I could and worked on my own projects in-between. Desperate for any experience I was constantly knocked back with sarcasm, rudeness or indifference.
Over the last 2 years I have had the chance to work with some Photographers who are vastly more experienced and talented at what they do than I am and it’s been inspirational. These guys are at the top of the game. They are photographers who have been working for decades in film, journalism and across the industry. Why is it that they have been so generous with their time and their knowledge when others who are not nearly as accomplished have given me the cold shoulder or on occasion have gone out of their way to make it harder for me.
All of these talented people have been hugely generous to me with their time and their knowledge. There are no dumb questions because mostly they know they have asked them themselves. To be told by one of the most well know photographers in the industry, don’t be afraid to ask if you don’t know something is hugely refreshing. Why is it that the top tier is so willing to help when the bottom isn’t? I think it’s because they don’t see me as a threat but also most of them tell stories about how somebody took them under their wing and helped them too.
While most of my work now is in assisting what I have learned in the last 2 years is vast and imeasurable compared to what I thought I knew and even greater still than what I actually knew. I am still growing everyday both in my skills and my confidence as my job right now is like a giant sandpit and everyday is a school day.
I think to be a truly great photographer you have to be brave but I have always been held back by my lack of confidence in my work. Watching the giants play in the sand pit is an incredibly inspirational experience, but what has really brought me growth is being in a place where my knowledge is constantly pushed beyond my comfort zone. I’m forced everyday to apply what I have learned to solve new problems or learn or fail.
This is why it’s so important to share and grow the people around us. When you have success part of the joy is passing that opportunity on to others not guarding it jealously.