Q&A: Should I talk to competing photographers?

Q: "I've been a long to a couple of meetings of local working photographers, but I'm not sure. It seems to me that I'm just giving away my business secrets and not getting anyting back. Surely competitors are just that?"

OK, this is a matter of personal taste. I've belonged to several different groups of like-minded photographers over the years, sometimes working on the "art" side - meaning for fun, sometimes on the business side.

For example we have two local groups who regularly meet up to discuss the business of photography and I come away from every meeting with at least 1 good idea or resource to help me.

But you are right, in every such group there are the "takers" - those that just want to suck up whatever they can from you - even as far as finding out who your buyers are and trying to steal them (those get weeded out pretty quickly though).

On the other hand, every group has its "givers" - those who are willing to give out all they know, all the advice they can muster - and while it may not always be relevant to you now its good info.

And then there are the real "super-givers" who will gladly give you personal time to help you out whether just being supportive, showing you how to do something in particular, or direct assistance on jobs.

Personally I know over the years I've passed on more work than I've had back - but I have had some work back. The work I passed on I couldn't do anyway, so really I've lost nothing there - and the work that has come back has been good and useful.

Also, it has to be said that there's quite a lot of photography business to go round and I'm not sure we really compete with each other. We all offer different skills, talents and prices anyway.

If you are worried about competing with people who are too local to you (and I think I might have reservations about meeting with studios in my five mile radius I suppose) then look at meeting up with people who are slightly further afield.

I am also a member of national group that sources some of our leads - those get togethers are terrific because there is only 1 photographer in one area - so there is no competition - just a very broad willingness to share.

You only have to look at the various online forums, facebook groups and so on to know that photographers in general are a very sharing bunch.

photographers local groups group working Simon Q. Walden, FilmPhotoAcademy.com, sqw, FilmPhoto, photography

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