Like many photographers, designers and artists these days, I've spent a fair (trans.: insane) amount of time and energy trying to make heads or tails of how best to utilize social media – especially where promoting my craft is concerned. In fact, I'd sort of gotten into the habit of thinking of these tools only in terms of how they could be used for business and marketing, when recently I was struck by a most wonderful and unforeseen byproduct of my narrow-minded efforts.
A few weeks ago, I began following award-winning adventure travel photographer, Nick Hall, on Twitter. Not long after, I received a message from Nick asking if it would be possible to purchase a print of one of the images featured on this very blog.
Now, it's not every day that I'm approached by super-talented photographers asking to buy my work, so naturally, my first reaction was to re-read the message to make sure it was intended for me. But after confirming that it was indeed properly addressed, I found myself in the curious predicament of having to quote a price on one of my own prints for a fellow professional. (...and I thought bidding on commercial jobs tough!) Nick must have sensed my dread, because even as I crafted my reply, he let me off the hook with the exact same propostion I was about to make: a swap...of course!
As we firmed up the details with a few back-and-forth messages, it was as if a light came on for the first time. Why hadn't this idea occurred to me before? I hadn't even considered it. I asked Nick if he'd done this sort of thing with other photographers and he said he hadn't. Nevertheless, we were both excited about our exchange and agreed that this would be a really fun way to build a photography collection. In addition, we thought it might be a good idea to tyr to spread the word and encourage others in the community to follow suit, provided they were open to it. Perhaps the best thing to come of this though – better than the flattering thrill of having one's work appreciated, better even than becoming the proud owner of a Nick Hall original, was the experience of connecting with a fellow photographer on the basis of nothing other than mutual admiration.
In this age of tight budgets, in a hyper-competitive industry that's busting with talent and being re-defined daily by technology and shifting markets, this experience has been a real breath of fresh air and welcome reminder of the joy that comes from the simple act of creating something and sharing it. So, thanks again Nick!
As for the rest of you – do yourself a favor and reach out to someone whose work you admire and spread the love...you'll be glad you did.