Here’s the thing, photography is everywhere. We live an age saturated with imaging – whether it’s billboards, magazines or Instagram – everywhere we look we see a photograph of some sorts. Photos are taken and shared at a frightening rate and it’s hard not to be overloaded with imagery, professional or not. Photographers are more acutely aware perhaps, seeing some inspiration, lighting or mistake that others might miss. It’s hard not to judge everything you see. It’s even harder not to get tired doing so.
I’ve felt for a while that there’s a fine line between inspiration and exasperation. To be blunt there are A LOT of very good photographers out there. Photographers shooting great commissions for great companies or agencies. Many of those commissions represent a point in a career most photographers want to reach. What you don’t see in those shots is the years of experience and work that has been built up.
And, therein, lies a problem. It can be easy to critique a shot from the relative comfort of a chair in front of a screen or flicking through a magazine. Spend too long cursing your apparent bad luck and you can become a bit jaded to the whole industry. Sure there are times that photographers get handed jobs that are more than they deserve, but equally there are many photographers who should be shooting for bigger clients but never do. A lot of it boils down to luck and timing, sometimes it’s merely poor marketing, but, like most industries, work is not always handed out on a deserving basis.
By and large though your career will progress naturally. Experience and knowledge is borne through months and years of work. There’ll always be a bright upstart bursting out in their teens but the bulk of good photographers are two to three times that age. Clients work on trust and trust is built up through successful campaigns. Those who moan or turn down work because they feel it’s beneath them will struggle up the ladder.
A career is built on little victories and is a step by step process. We’d all love some instant success, but it won’t be built on the foundations of experience. Try not to worry yourself about others and their progression; concentrate on yourself and where you want to go.