Is the competition real? Ok, you might be looking at my question and think, “What the heck is she talking about? Is she for real?” Since I only have so much space for a title, I couldn’t be as nuanced about this week’s subject. The short answer is yes. Competition is real but the long answer has more layers to it.
Depending on the industry you are in, competition looks differently. For instance, gas stations have competition and they compete on price. Lately, there have been gas stations like QT, that provide other services and products because cheap gas is being provided by other stations, as well. They realized that they needed something else to stand out. In photography, competition isn’t necessarily a real thing. Sure, there are plenty of photographers vying for your attention but they are not all the same. For the most part, pricing for photographers is not standard because it’s not regulated like other industries. Basically, we get to say what we believe our services and talent are worth. From that point, people will determine what is important to them. Is the price important? What about the artistic impression/expression and style? What about the personality of the photographer? To me, it is not really a matter of competition but of what is important or desired by the person looking for a photographer.
All of this came to mind while I was watching the Verzus battle live event on Instagram with Erykah Badu and Jill Scott some weeks ago. If you’re interested to see what I’m talking about, click here to check it out. Basically, they each played songs from their repertoires while fans posted comments and listened. The thing is, they both praised each other and their songs the entire time. At one point, Ms. Scott became disconnected from Ms. Badu’s page while one of Ms. Badu’s songs was playing. Being the queen that Ms. Scott is and knowing that her candlelight doesn’t dim if she lights the candle of another, she continued to play Ms. Badu’s song on her page. Even though they are musical artists in the same genre, they have no competition between them, only admiration and respect. I’d like to think that we, as photographers, have the same level of admiration and respect for each other and our work.
There are plenty of photographers whom I admire and whose work I admire. Yes, even photographers who are in the same photographic genre as me. There are many whom I am friends with and we share information and resources. Why? Because we know that sharing knowledge will only help all of us grow stronger. I even have photographer friends who I refer potential clients to because either I don’t offer that service or for some reason, I am unable to accommodate their requests/needs. So I really don’t feel that I have competition. I feel that those who like my work, like what I have to offer and who like me, will choose me. There will always be price shoppers but I don’t feel like they are my clients and that’s okay. There is a photographer for every type of client just find the one who is right for you.
Maybe I’m looking at competition wrong but I really feel that I am competing against myself. I can’t control what others do or how they do it but I can control what I do and how I do it. All I can do is offer my best, find my tribe and keep it moving. With all that said, I want to leave you with this quote.
“Competition has been shown to be useful up to a certain point and no further, but cooperation, which is the thing we must strive for today, beings where competition leaves off.” ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt