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Disclaimer: This may seem harsh at first but hear me out and read the WHOLE post

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This industry is growing at an unbelievable rate.  When I bought my first SLR, it was $1000 and came with 2 standard (crappy) lenses and a bag.  Today you can buy a Canon Rebel for under $600! It’s crazy!  The more popular they become, the more “Photographers” start to emerge on facebook.  It seems so easy. You get an SLR, you put it on “P” and make a Facebook page and wa-la! You’re a photographer! …… right?  Isn’t that it?

It seems so simple.  The truth is that ANYONE can do that.  I’m letting my little sister BORROW (It’s not yours Emy!!!) my old Rebel right now and if she wanted, she could start a fan page and Emily James Photography would exist! Just like that! So what does this mean for the photographers that have been doing this for years and years? What happens to the photographers who are extremely talented and trying to make a living but everyone is settling for the $500 wedding photographer from facebook who is shooting on automatic!? Don’t get me wrong, not long ago I was the $750 wedding photographer on Facebook with a bludomain website and no clue what I was doing. I understand that that is where you have to start if you want to enter this industry! But there is a common misconception that this is easy…that launching a business is just fun and that anyone can do it.  That’s just not true.  Building a business from the ground up has probably been one of the hardest, most stressful adventures I have EVER taken in my life thus far and I’m still not done! This job never ends! Growing and maintaining a business is demanding and requires CONSTANT innovation and dedication.  If a photographer is going to make it in this industry, they’ll have to fight for it…. myself included.

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Now that all of you newer photographers are all depressed and frustrated with me, please let me continue! I have struggled with how to handle the fact that ANYONE can just decide to become a photographer whenever they want. Social media enables people to do this so easily! I think that for people like me who are still new but have a couple of years under our belts, it’s hard to hear people automatically called themselves “Professional Photographers” when they really don’t have any idea what that entails. I STILL have a hard time telling people I’m a professional wedding photographer sometimes! Somedays I don’t feel like I deserve that title yet.. but that’s a whole different story!  If this is hard for me, I can’t imagine how it must feel to those who have been doing this for 5,8,15+ years! However, (I promise this gets better so stick with me!) I have recently gained a lot of wisdom in this area from some amazing photographers who I’m sure struggled with this a ton!

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Basically, with the help of Jstar, Dane Sanders and Becker, I have realized that I have no control over this industry.  Different people are going to decide to become photographers, whether they are talented or not, and I can’t do anything about that, nor should I! Wasn’t that me just two years ago?! Wasn’t I the newbie trying to launch a new business and needing advice? The truth is, for those of us who have a little bit of experience and choose to turn up our noses at newer photographers, we are digging a hole for ourselves. We are actually killing the industry by not investing in other photographers because no one is teaching them how to become professional! If we would stop considering young photographers as competition and start helping them grow and enhance their businesses, we would accomplish three things:

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1. We would form community and support

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2. We would enable new photographers to grow their businesses & charge more for their packages. This eliminates the “$500 Facebook Photographer” issue.

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3. We would weed out those that aren’t serious about creating a business and whose approach to the industry could hurt the value of what it means to be a photographer.

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So what am I going to do about this?! I’m starting a new “Ask Anything” series.  Periodically I will answer questions that come from other photographers in hopes that it will help everyone! I receive several emails and facebook messages every week with technical questions, business questions and sometimes even personal questions! I don’t have all the answers and as a disclaimer, some of my answers are probably wrong! However, I want to share and I want to help because people poured into me when I first started, Jessie Smith in particular.  I could tear up just thinking of all the advice, encouragement and time she spent on me. It was a gift and I want to be that for others!

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I’m sure you are tired of my rantings and I hope I didn’t scare you off! Please know that I am NOT hating on the $500 photographers.  My whole goal of this post is to encourage experienced photographers to fight the urge to be bitter and resentful… that doesn’t end well for anyone.  If you want more information about learning to help instead of hate, you have to read Dane Sander’s book, Fast Track Photographer! It would be my number one recommendation for anyone just starting out or thinking about taking the plunge into full time photography!

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ALSO! Speaking of connecting! If you are a VA, MD, or DC photographer come hangout for our first ever Photographer’s Unite meetup in Fredericksburg, VA on June 4th! Join the facebook fanpage! I want to meet you!!!!! I’ll post more info soon! (Thanks Sarah for her help with this!)

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