I find it comical that the very people who paint themselves as inclusive and a supporter of (insert your cause here) tend to be the biggest jerks out there. They virtual signal you, bash your work, then turn around and hold prestigious gallery openings in the ritzier parts of town spatting they’re with you and your struggles as an (insert “oppressed” group here). Heartbreaking when I hear the very people talk down on photographers who are just starting out or aren’t in the same pedestal they believe to be sitting on. Perhaps it’s because academia tells them that those who don’t have the same education as they do, don’t fit the mold and are therefore inferior artists. While your own photos could be considered bad to these people, bear in mind photography as an art form is a subjective one. As artists we mustn't discourage others who have yet to find their why, their voice, the message and story they want to tell through their art.

At any level in our career, I believe we have a moral obligation to reach out and help our fellow photographers and not see them as the competition. Considering academia perpetuates the snobby attitude attributed with the fine arts, we must support each other however small the gesture. Photography has a multitude of genres some of which I don’t fully understand however, we can agree when we see beautiful work created by beautiful people. We have the freedom to express our opinions through our art, through our photography, even form opinions as to why we don’t like certain art forms. I believe if you form an unpopular opinion, say it out loud, but don’t be quick to judge if you don’t immediately understand what you’re seeing. Always state why.

Then there are the gear snobs. I believe it doesn't matter which medium you choose to take photos with; be it film, digital, SLR or mirrorless because labels are for cameras, not people. Let us appreciate photography for what it is, a way for us to connect with strangers, to build bonds with our friends, to have people fall in love with themselves in our photos, to capture moments that slip through our very hands. If you’re a new photographer, use the camera you’re comfortable with. Don’t listen to people who act like children and talk down on your gear. If they don't like it, have them buy you a new camera, simple as that. No one obsesses over the tools people use to make our food, so why do we obsess over the tools photographers use? Your camera should be and is an extension of you. Your camera is simply a precision tool. I’ve learned over the years that simplicity is key, the less is more approach. A one lens, one camera, one film stock combination is all you need to be a master of your craft. Someone once said, “to be a master do the same thing a thousand times, not a thousand things one time.” Learn to hone the tools you have on hand; you’ll be surprised that as you grow as an artist so will your tools.

No, you will not be an overnight success, but don’t let that stop you when they tell you no. Keep pushing because you don’t know what’s around the corner. Stick to your guns and make a correction when it feels right to do so. Yes, this is an industry that requires a ton of hard work with very little pay off for a long time, you’ll even see others reach overnight success the second they step in. So do your best to guard your heart against jealousy and find a way to find joy in peoples success while you continue to push yourself forward. If you learn to keep it simple, support local businesses that help your work shine, as well as other artists and vendors within your respective community and continue to purchase American made products like Kodak film and Tap & Dye leather wrist straps, together we will keep our love for film alive for years to come.