Hot Take: I Think We Should All Be Nice.
Updated: Dec 21, 2018
Cady Heron said it best: "Calling somebody else fat won't make you any skinnier. Calling someone stupid doesn't make you any smarter. And ruining Regina George's life definitely didn't make me any happier. All you can do in life is try to solve the problem in front of you."
Robert Ingersoll, perhaps a touch more insightful than the fictional Mean Girls character mentioned above, said -- "we rise by lifting others". You know I'm all about positivity here -- so there is nothing that grinds my gears more than people who have absolutely nothing nice to say about their peers.
I know that I might sound "too nice" for the cutthroat business world, but you know what? I'm so tired of the "it's a dog-eat-dog world" mentality. Can we just relax? Can we just coexist? Listen. It is my personal belief that you can learn something from anybody. There are photographers from all walks of life, at so many different points in their careers, with all different experience levels. There are photographers who are trying out different styles, who tone their images in unique ways, or who use unique techniques that you may have never seen or thought of before. It all comes down to this: just because you don't personally like or understand someone's work, doesn't mean their body of work is bad. You will never rise up by dragging others down. Since when has learning new things, or being different ever been a bad thing?
I have a background in marketing and branding. I have always tried to steer people away from the temptation to engage in what I call "comparison marketing", because in my opinion, when you try to sell yourself to customers based on how little you think of others, you come off as insecure. Positive marketing (again, in my humble opinion) works so much better and speaks volumes about your company culture.
It is also my personal belief that if your product and service is as good as you think it is, you shouldn't have to run around disparaging other people's hustles to try to make yourself look better. There should be no need. Your stellar work should shine on it's own through pure quality. Your brand should shine on positivity and glowing reviews.
Another thing -- not every single person your "target market". To determine who is truly your market, just take a good hard look at what your brand really is and who is really purchasing your products.
For example, I know for a fact that my target market is couples aged 19-26 with a medium-sized wedding budget. My packages aren't the most expensive and they aren't the least expensive. I don't cry over spilt milk when someone books a $7,000 wedding, because (for now at least) folks looking to burn that type of cash aren't who I'm targeting (but honestly if you're reading this and want to book a $7k wedding with me DM me immediately). I don't get my backdrops in a knot when someone hires their cousin to shoot their wedding for $500, because I know that that couple was never my market either.
Take a look at this extremely illuminating article from WeddingWire called "Why Craigslist if Not Your Competitor". The people behind that blog know their stuff and really made me think. Top takeaway from them:
"Why should they choose you? We choose to do business with companies, and people, by the way they make us feel about the experience. For weddings – where the consumer is not experienced in shopping for what you do – it gets even harder. They’re spending more money than they’ve ever spent on things they don’t really understand. It’s your job, first, to get their attention. Then, get them to make an inquiry, convert that inquiry into a real conversation, move that conversation to an appointment (in-person or virtual), and the on to a sale.
So, why should your couples choose you, even if your price is higher? That’s the question you need to answer, and then you’ll come closer to knowing who your real competitors are."
This "target market" idea also holds true to aesthetic. I have a very specific realistic + photojournalistic style. All of my galleries look realistic in color, light, and all the like -- so I know that couples looking for the specific light + airy or dark + moody look aren't for me either. And that is fine! We need to be true to what we want out of our wedding photography experiences, and choose the photographer whose aesthetic we dig the most. The fact that I don't produce these styles doesn't mean that these styles are bad. I am so obsessed with so many talented photographers on IG that shoot light + airy or dark + moody and I respect their work so very much.
Anyways, drop a line and let me know if you think I'm right or crazy. Very interested to hear others' opinions on here.
TL;DR: your vibe attracts your tribe. Just do you, boo.