Don't be a dick to the successful.

We all want to find success. We all wait anxiously for the day we can proclaim “I’ve made it”. We all, to some extent, want recognition for the hard work we do. We all go through periods of wondering if we’ll ever get there.

None of this, however, means you need to be a dick when someone else finds that success before you.

As an industry, I see way too many people diminishing the accomplishments of others. “Stacey just won photographer of the century”... … …”yeah I heard, but anyone can win that competition.” Get that spite / jealousy in check, it’s not a competition. We should be celebrating the successes of our peers, cheering them on, and genuinely happy for them. Their success doesn’t mean you’re somehow less successful, and thinking it does means you may have some personal issues needing to be worked out.

Don't be that person. It's juvenile. We're not children, we should be better than this.

Don't be a dick to those still learning.

Every single one of us, regardless of where we are now, started knowing very little. Through whatever methods worked best for us, we learned until we became accomplished… a process that could take any amount of time.

During this stage we all often look up to the people who have found success. We feel inspired by the photographers who have mastered their art. We wish we could get to know them, learn from them… and be accepted by them.

Despite this commonality between all of us, for some reason I’ve yet to figure out, many of us will go through a stage of being complete jerks to the people still in that learning stage. This “jerk phase” could involve anything from bullying, to disdain, to expected celebrity worship. It’s disgusting if I’m being honest. No, you don’t owe anyone your time, but it takes very little effort to at least not be an asshat about it.

It's about building a supportive community, not inflating our ego.

Likes don’t matter.

Photography is not a popularity contest, and nor should you act as if it is. Setting goals like “I want to reach this many followers” is self-defeating. Caring about who follows you, who doesn't, how many follow you, or how many follow anyone else, is all self-defeating. It implies you’re not focusing on the elements of your craft that are actually important. That you’re basing your self-worth and perception of success on social standing, which only rarely actually translates to quality.

Social standing can be grown organically but should never be a goal, or be actively pursued, because the second you start down this path you are sabotaging your ability to grow where it really matters.

Especially when (typically) the majority of the effort made to grow a following is directed at people within easy reach… meaning peers and friends… whose support can feel good but ultimately does absolutely nothing for you beyond “feeling good”.

Chasing likes is addicting, and like most addictions more harmful than helpful.

Live Offline vice Online

For those of us running a personal business, especially I’ve found in creative industries, Social Media can easily become a problem.

Essentially; we’re on it a lot. Perhaps more than what might be considered healthy. We maintain multiple profiles across multiple social platforms. We may even have backup accounts just in case our main accounts get flagged.

We use social platforms for marketing, to maintain client relationships, and to maintain a social presence because social proofing (the idea that a well-maintained social presence, follower count, etc factors into a potential client’s decision to hire us) is important.

But we often take it beyond even that. Again anecdotally… creative types often feel like they don’t fit in. We turn to social platforms to establish our communities and build our tribes. It’s great for that and can really provide a sense of belonging. I have amazing friends around the world with whom I feel like they get me, and I am better for having met them.

My worry (personally) is how much of my actual life I’m giving up trying to maintain this other online persona. It’s not abnormal for me to just sit in front of my computer and scroll Facebook or Instagram mindlessly. It’s a feel-good trap that can cause us to become lethargic about the other aspects of our life. It can offer a feeling of self-importance we may not feel elsewhere and that we often become enamoured with.

It’s been bothering me lately. I’m going to try to step back and build some better boundaries (my life online is not as important as the time I invest in it implies). There is good that comes from social media (I’ll never claim otherwise), and maintaining my business is mandatory… but I want my life and adventures to take place out from behind the screen.