Why are We So Afraid to Share?
By Gregory Schrader
“Life isn’t about finding yourself, life is about creating yourself.” (George Bernard Shaw). What an amazing quote! I am not sure that Mr. Shaw had photography in mind when writing this down…but it sure applies. Photography (The art of painting with light), I believe, is a living, breathing organism…it is a part of us; it is alive! This is a concept that might be strange to many new (and some older) photographers but one that truly needs to be embraced. Regardless if you are shooting kids, families, seniors, pets or weddings…your art is an extension of you and everything about you. So understanding that and knowing that as artists we take what is given to us (light, subject, surroundings) and we create, from our soul, an experience and image that is uniquely “us” or “ours”…why are so many of us so unwilling to share?
When I first started in photography in 2005 I was like any other “newbie” and was starving for ideas and inspiration. I would not feel my art as much as I would look in magazines or ads or at other photographers work and try to recreate what I saw that I liked. I remember that first year and seeing a photograph from someone I knew that had been shooting for a few years…I said to them “Wow, great shot…where is that taken at?” Now that seems like an honest straight forward question…but the answer I was given was so unexpected that I was honestly left speechless. I was told: “Thanks for the compliment…but I can’t tell you.” I asked “Oh, you don’t remember where you shot it at?” and was told “No, I know right where I shot it…but I don’t want anyone else to know…that is MY spot.”
I have heard to many stories like that one over the last few years from friends and students and it really has me not only confused but (if I am being honest) pretty ticked off! Why, as professionals, are we so afraid to share? Are we really that insecure? Are we that afraid that someone will come along and do a better job or take a better photograph than we did? Really? My question to you is…So what? I have been taught early on in my career from artists like Bambi Cantrell, Jerry Ghionis, Jim Garner and Yervant that if someone is better than you…learn from them…if they are not…lead them. Why is this such a hard concept for photographers to understand? Are our egos really that fragile?
I want you to understand that photography, our chosen career, is more than a photograph. It is a single moment in time, an emotion, an experience that only you can interpret and create. Every time you create an image, I believe, a small part of your soul goes into that. I know that might sound a bit profound….but you know what…It does! Your art is an extension of everything you are. If you are feeling dull and flat and just want to “shoot and get paid”….then guess what your images are going to look like? Lets not be like the professional that I just read about on Facebook that posted an image and when asked about the location where it was taken replied: “Sorry… I don’t tell. It’s far enough away to be secret, but too close to tell anyone. There are already way too many photographers using it.”
Your art is all about you. Not about what camera you use…not what lens you use…not about lights or locations. Your photography…your art…is about you! You make the difference. Lets not be afraid to share what we know. Lets not be afraid to grow, not only as photographers and artists….but as human beings!