by Colleen Smith
I sat down last night at a long table in the back of the bar at the beginning of Happy Hour and looked around at the other faces at the table. As soon as another one joined our group there were hugs and handshakes. All 15 of us (there were, unfortunately, a few missing from the festivities) sat down, ordered drinks and food and got the night underway.
There were photographers, producers, studio managers, sales guys, rentals people, all whom I have had the pleasure, the joy of working with over the past 10+ years, and each and every one of them I consider a friend. We get together not as frequently as we would like but when we do the night is full of laughter. We were by far the loudest – and quite possibly the most obnoxious – group in the place. After the initial “how’s work going?” no one talks about his or her day job. This is a night to catch up with old friends and talk of things in common and reminisce. One shared event brought us together, but no one needed to talk about what’s going on in the industry, we all know, we’re all a part of it in one form or another.
Which brings me to the reason for writing this.
I have worked at three different companies over the last 10 or so years, all (pro) photo retail/rentals related. I have made lasting friendships at each place of employment, people I talk to regularly.
We have all worked I suppose, at “the other guy”, some at Vistek, some at Headshots (and of course B3K Digital), and some at places that no longer exist.
This “competition” is (and I truly believe this) a falsehood, something the higher-ups have pushed and pursued believing they should be the biggest, or only player in the sandbox. Why?
This is a relatively small industry; everyone has worked with, or for, everyone else at one time or another. Why create such a divide? I don’t understand why we can’t work with each other instead of against each other? If I can’t help a photographer with what they need why shouldn’t I pick up the phone and call a friend to see if they can help – or vise versa? Imagine this industry if we did? I’m not saying we need to forget about profit or sales or ROI. But I am saying there is no need to be so protective or so divisive. We all know each other here, wouldn’t it be best to just help out the guy looking for that speedring? Or the producer needing a rental quickly? Why shouldn’t I call the “competition” to find out if they have a lens in rentals and how much it rents for? If I don’t have it for a client I will do what I can to find someone who does. Let’s just all work together to help the photographers, the producers, the studio managers, let’s get them what they need – regardless of where it comes from – so they can get their job done. Isn’t that what it’s all about anyway?
Is this too simplistic a thought? Maybe, but I think simplicity is what we need in an otherwise metamorphic industry.
Working against each other will only quicken the industry’s demise while working together, I’m sure, will only lead to strengthening it.