Connections are vital. The connections we feel with family and friends are what define us as a relatively civilized society. It both displays and bolsters our awesome capacity for empathy, compassion, and understanding. Our ability to connect and effectively communicate with others is paramount in the realms of business, politics, entertainment, and service, to name only a few. Art is no different. The age-old stereotype of the starving, disassociated artist, while sometimes accurate, is not a fair generalization of the artistic community as a whole, nor is it generally considered good for business.
I found it only fitting that I start my first independent blog with thoughts on connecting with others. Social media is a wonderful tool, but is limited in scope, and content can become lost in a sea of other impressive works, no matter what your niche.
Connecting with clients, and letting them get to know a little bit about the photographer they're working with -or purchasing work from- should be a priority for artists and entrepreneurs of all kinds. Equally as important are the connections we make with other artists and photographers. Sharing and exchanging ideas, stories, and helpful information are some of the most beneficial and satisfying things we, as artists and people, can do to grow.
I often see these benefits first-hand. Being a member of Professional Photographers of America, New Orleans Photo Alliance, and New York Institute of Photography have surely been assets to me as a photographer, and co-founding the Cane River Photographic Society is one of the proudest and most rewarding accomplishments of my artistic career thus far. The information gained and friendships formed from such associations, formal and informal, can hardly be replicated in any online community, site, or forum.
Personal connections make a difference. My own associations and connections with photographers, artists, writers, publishers, and editors are what tend to lead to some of my most fun and rewarding work! If you're an artist, reach out to other artists. Communicate effectively with your clients. Soak in everything you can from experience gained doing those things, and learn from, and embrace the opinions and ideas of your peers and others who've come before you.
No matter how original we would all like to be, someone else has likely been there. The important thing is to stay focused on creating what your mind sees. You cannot ask for more than that, artistically.
One of the greatest innovators of all time, Steve Jobs, said "Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn't really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That's because they were able to connect experiences they've had and synthesize new things."
This is especially true in photography.
How many of you photographers or other creatives reading this have ever felt at least a little bit hesitant to accept accolades for a nice photo, prose, or song you've created? I have. Even though I remember rising way too early and getting to a location just before dawn. I know the thrill of preparing equipment the night prior, and utilizing all the time training, shooting, and studying, and all the pretentiously perceived creative vision conjured to get just a decent "keeper" shot. I've often felt it was all just to grab a sunrise snap on an ocean, a forest, a street, or a landmark that has likely been shot at the same time of day or night from the same location, and even in the same style by a few bazillion other photographers that have been there before me.
Perspective, satisfaction, and passion, however, can outweigh the doubts and fears of being unoriginal or predictable. If your work makes you happy, do it! If you know others who share your enthusiasm, share the experience! See what they do, and how they do it. Share your own knowledge, no matter how limited. You'll learn a lot through communication, and you'll get back so much more than you put in. So pass it on, and go back for more to pass on! (lather, rinse, repeat)
Overcome those natural fears and anxieties about presenting yourself and your work to the world. The rewards can be a real game changer, and even redefine your own understanding of success and your own self-worth!