Are you trapped in a bubble? I’m not talking about one of those plastic, hermetically sealed bubbles like the one John Travolta acted in the movie “Boy in the Plastic Bubble.” I’m talking about the invisible, sometimes insipid bubble that is your photography industry clique. Or your videography industry clique. Or your “whatever industry” clique. It’s that bubble of people, colleagues and “friends” (quote, unquote) whom you are always trying to please. You know the ones:
- The ones for whom you make a promo video, not because you want it to appeal to your prospects (heaven forbid), but because you want it to make you look like a “rock star” to your bubble buddies.
- The ones for whom you blog not because you’ve determined that blogging for other photogs/filmmakers has a strategic purpose in your business, but because you want to be known as someone who has a lot of blog readers.
- The ones from whom you desire such approval, you post a photo or a video every week, not because you really want or care about feedback, but you want them to like you and your work.
Am I hitting even close to home? Am I striking a nerve. I feel like I’m preachin’ up in here. Can I get an amen? (Is there s a black church member out there I can borrow for this blog?!)
Seriously though, we all do this. Heck, I’ll admit it. In many ways I’m a bubble boy too. But this past week I’ve been reminded on a couple of occasions the importance of breaking out of my bubble.
The other scenario was from travel photographer and social media maven Trey Ratcliff. Trey has over 1.4 million Google+ followers and is the guy behind the blog StuckInCustoms.com. He blogs a photo and a story of that photo every day. He’s garnered such a huge following, that twice Google has invited him to speak at their campus. Below is one of his latest talks. There are many great take aways from that talk. One of the key things I took away was the importance of getting out of your bubble.
Trey does a few things that go against the grain. Not the least of which is upload full-sized digital images for anyone to download. He does it under the Creative Commons Non-Commercial License (which drives a lot of “old timers” crazy. Well, all except one particular old-timer who was inspired to change his ways because of Trey.) When Trey talks about “getting out of your bubble,” he’s talking precisely about the things I bulleted above in my mini-sermon. Don’t be so set on being accepted by other creatives in your field. Branch out and get your work in front of regular lay-people. They will enjoy and benefit from your work exponentially more than other photogs and filmmakers. Market yourself to people who will actually want to hire you. Don’t put so much authority in the feedback from people on your respective forum of choice. Why get a hundred different opinions or critiques from other photographers and filmmakers? Especially when (as Trey put it) many photographers are incompetent (don’t shoot the messenger folks!) Expand your social connection beyond just the clique of creatives in your bubble.
So, I’ll ask you again. Are you stuck in a bubble?