We can all remember the teacher who believed in us right? The one who knew we could do math when we just wanted to give up. Or the coach who encouraged us to the plate just one more time, because if we just swung a few more times with a little more direction, we’d get a hit. Or the dance teacher who walked us out on stage because we were too scared to walk out on our own. We’ve all had those people in our lives, and we wouldn’t be where we are without them. Adults always encourage kids. All the time. It’s like some kind of unspoken code among adults: kids can’t do wrong when they’re trying to do right. So we’ve been wondering lately, when did that stop? Adult to adult? When did the code get erased? Why is it so natural to encourage children and so hard to cheer on each other, our “competitors.” Our two cents? We think that stopped when we forget that in our industry, the same people who we might view as our strongest “competition” are our community, too.
Threats or Friends?
As photographers, it’s easy for us to see what another photographer is doing, and immediately think about all the things we’re not doing. We were talking to our dear friend Mary about this very idea, and she reminded us that when we see one person doing one great thing, and another doing a different great thing, pretty soon we all think we have to keep up with what EVERYONE is doing! Why is it that the second we see someone else achieve something incredible, our brains immediately jump to what we’re not doing?
We have to constantly remind ourselves is that, like our sweet friend Tash says, “Her success is not my failure.” And that the people who are the most like us can actually be our best, most treasured community. Who’s going to understand us better than people doing the same thing as us?! The more we talk with people about this idea, the more we’ve realized this goes far beyond our own little photography world. Our industry peers are going through the same thing! We are so thankful for movements like The Rising Tide Society, who are standing up and talking about these insecurities we all face in this competitive industry!
You know what’s crazy though? Being around other people who are doing what we’re doing is a blessing! Nobody understands us better than the people who are in the same trenches we are!
And the last time we looked into it, we found out there are 25,000 brides every year in the greater Phoenix area alone, which means we’d need 1,000 full-time photographers shooting 25 weddings per year in order to serve just our county’s brides the way we know they deserved to be served! That’s one of the reasons we love teaching our workshops! We can’t possibly photograph all the weddings out there, and there’s nothing that makes us happier when we know other people’s brides and grooms will be served the way they deserve!
So why the outer smiles yet inner walls? Why does the up-and-comer feel like an outsider when all they want is to do what you do and be who you are. Why is it so hard to “double-tap” someone else’s Instagram? We have to remind ourselves that it’s time to wipe out the notion of competition. And that those same people could be our greatest community! A lot of times, we just don’t know it yet.
What Do We Really Believe?
And we can look at those people in two ways: competition or community. If they’re competition, then our businesses aren’t really about what we say they’re about — loving and serving brides — because if we believe with our whole heart (like we do) that every bride deserves to be loved and served well, then community’s the only answer. Why? It’s simple, really. There are only two of us and there’s only one of you, but there are tens of thousands of brides all across America whose granddaughters, fifty years from now, whether we’re their photographers or not, whether you’re their event designer or florist or stationer or catering manager or not, will sit on their grandmothers’ laps, flip through their wedding album one day, and know how much their grandpa loved their grandma. They’ll see, in living color, a legacy of love that they’re soon to inherit. And what a shame it’d be if we, as an industry, robbed today’s brides, who are tomorrow’s grandmothers, the chance to share the only tangible memory of their wedding day because we, as a community, weren’t willing to share what we know with others, weren’t willing to work as a team, go beyond our job description and weren’t willing to put our arm around someone’s shoulder at an event when they feel scared and small, because we were afraid ourselves that they’d get too big, even though it’s the big thing to do.
The People Who Helped Us
Since our career started a few years ago, we can’t even count the overwhelming number of people who did that for us, who acted like that math teacher we had growing up, or that t-ball coach we had as kids, or that dance teacher who walked us onto the stage when we couldn’t stand there on our own. And do you know the coolest part? In a few weeks, we’re walking onto one of those stages, but because of those people pouring into us, we can walk out there alone. Now, it’s our turn to do the encouraging. Our chance to do the coaching. Our moment to do the mentoring. It’s time for us to believe in others before they believe in themselves. That’s why we’re so excited to have been invited by our dear friend and Martha Stewart top wedding planner, Jennifer Thye of Imoni Events, to speak alongside an incredible lineup of local leaders who believe in those things, too. We are so thankful to have other people right here in Arizona who are ready to break down the walls that can so easily get built up, and instead share what we’ve learned with one another.
A Powerful Arizona Wedding Community Event
So, if you’re an Arizona wedding veteran, or if you’re new around town and want a safe place to experience real community over competition, join us at The Wedding Symposium on Tuesday, August 25 at one of our favorite wedding venues, El Chorro! Registration ends in just a few days and, trust us, if you’re within driving distance of this event, you don’t want to miss it! So make sure to grab your seat here by August 15th because seats are limited and we want to make sure you get one! See you in a few weeks, friends! And do us a favor when you get there, okay? Find us so we can give you a big hug, because if we’re meeting you for the first time, we want you to know how welcomed you are, and if we already know you, then no matter when we saw you last, it’s been too long!And a FREE Webinar for Everyone Else!
p.s. And, if you don’t live in Arizona, we didn’t forget about you!! We’re teaching our very first LIVE online webinar hosted by ShootDotEdit THIS Wednesday at 10 a.m. PST and we’d LOVE to have you join us FOR FREE! We’ll be sharing our blog and website curating secrets and breaking down our image selection strategies so that you’ll be able to avoid the mistakes we made early on that cost us bookings! It’s gonna be practical, applicable stuff that we hope will be a blessing to you, your business AND your brides, because displaying the biggest day of their life in the most beautiful way possible is one of the best ways we can love and serve them as professionals. Sign up using this link right now before all the spots are gone! And did we mention it’s FREE? Aw, yeah!
PS Our friend Mary wrote an AMAZING post on something we struggle with ALL the time that relates so well to this post! She’s really helped us with this, and we think it will help you too! Read it here.