Get Out of Your Bubble

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.

One of those occasions was by Australian glamour photographer Sue Bryce. (Or “glama” photographer for you northern Englanders I know. ;) ) I’ll talk more about Sue tomorrow.

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?

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8 Responses to “Get Out of Your Bubble”

  1. Ron, as I comment yet on another 1 of your blog post, it should be obvious that I’m a regular reader of yours ;) haha

    I have not seen that 2nd video of Trey. I must admit, that I tried watching his 1st video when he spoke at google but had to stop within 10-15min. I couldn’t force myself to watch anymore. The reason why, is b/c everything he said was 100% subjective about photography and in some cases, the facts he was explaining were just plain wrong. Not about art/photography that can be opinions, but facts of photography he expressed. I can’t remember anything specific b/c it was a while ago, but I just could not watch it anymore. The feeling I got was that he’s all self taught? I dunno, maybe it’s just me that I’m a snob and studied art, photography & the history of art in school and still consider myself a student of art. But I guess I stopped watching b/c it almost seemed like the blind leading the blind.

    Yes, I guess my comments can be a little out of line b/c I didn’t finish watching his 1hr long talk but it’s what a felt.

    I completely agree about the bubble thing! One thing I always tell photographers is 1) don’t fall in love w/ your work. If you do, when someone is honest & actually gives you great feedback, you’re just going to shut-down & not listen to them. ALSO, don’t EVER go w/ the expectations of impressing someone with your work, that’s the #1 way of getting your ego checked. 2) don’t just show photographers your work. They often have their own vision and will sometimes try to press that upon you when you show them your work. Show photo editors, art buyers, everyday people, with an open mind and not trying to impress them.

    I was actually tweeting w/ the old timer whose now trying the “Creative Commons Non-Commercial” thing. One concern that I have with that is if EVERYONE does it, it can make photography a free low-level commodity. It’s worked pretty well now b/c only a few “cool kids” are doing it, but I think it’s one of those things that if EVERYBODY does it, it can be a bad thing with a big grey area. NOT everyone can popular.

    I’m sure Trey is great person. But I think his comment that you quoted is ironic!!! “many photographers are incompetent”, well, my comment about the “blind leading the blind” =) He would be considered a “leader” in this industry? Well, to respond to his statement which I also believe is sad but true, I have another quote… “Attitude reflects leadership”

    I would try to listen to his 1hr long videos, but quite frankly, I would much rather listen to Tony Robbins, Zig Ziggler, Bryan Tracey, make cold calls to potential clients, talk w/ 1 of mentors, work on personal projects, or read another one of your blog post =D

    • Ha, Alexis, yes I know you’re a regular. I love your comments and appreciate your support. :)

      FWIW, my wife wasn’t able to finish watching this video either. But for entirely different reasons. But I thought it was funny you mentioned that.

      I want to also say up front that the “incompetent” comment seems much worse written here out of context. It comes of much more jovial in the video. He’s basically saying that a lot of people don’t really know what they’re talking about.

      As far as Tre’s skill, he may be self-taught, but that doesn’t matter. So are Chase Jarvis and Jeremy Cowart. They’re doing okay. And as a matter of fact, so is Trey. His photos look pretty amazing to me, and he has a staff of ten to manage his business which is solely based on licensing. That means there are enough people out there who also think his work is good enough to purchase or license, so he must be doing something right.

      I disagree that Creative Commons and the sharing of photos could make photography a low-level commodity. Mainly because the people and organizations who need it for business still need to pay for it. And for people who need personal commissions, they will still need to pay someone to shoot their photos.

      Lastly, you can’t go wrong listening to Robbins, Ziglar and the rest. :)

      Thanks again. Until the next blog post. ;)

  2. oh!! I now remember what it was that made stop watching it specifically! It was bugging me and thankfully it came back to me after I hit the gym. Gonna save that when we hopefully chat or see each other next time if it’s something that you’d want to talk about.

  3. I read the comments and started watching and thought it was a bit boring and jeez an hour is going to be along time etc…but I persevered and I feel Trey has a very inspiring and heart felt message. I congratulate him on his success and peace of mind – good on him for sharing and finding a way that really works for him. Thanks for posting Ron.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. How to Break Out of Your Bubble | Dare Dreamer Magazine - March 9, 2012

    [...] Yesterday I talked about how we’re each part of our little industry “bubble.” It was inspired by a talk that travel photographer Trey Ratcliff gave at Google. (I’ll do my post about Sue Bryce tomorrow or Monday). I realized that I didn’t offer any suggestions or tips for breaking out of your proverbial bubble. Photo by maskedcard on Flickr. [...]

  2. What You Can Learn from a Hack Photographer | Dare Dreamer Magazine - March 12, 2012

    [...] of the things Sue talked about I alluded to last Thursday. She is surprised at how many photographers have blogs that seemed to be aimed at other [...]

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