Do Photographers Have Secrets + Should They Share?

Dear Jasmine,
I discovered your blog last week and since then have spent a hefty amount of time sitting in the middle of it, looking at posts one by one. All this reading has led to several questions. It's difficult knowing how to ask the right questions, and in thinking of these questions the past few days, I've realized how selfish my thought process is, but here goes.

1. How is it you seem so happy to share all your secrets?
I'm a peon in the world of photographers, yet, I feel defensive of my work and my methods and story because it feels so personal. Are you never afraid of telling/sharing/giving too much? You've worked so hard to brand yourself - make yourself stand out...Do you fear losing that if you tell too much?

2. Why do you seem happy about encouraging others to be photographers?
It's such a flooded market. And it feels disheartening when every Tom, Dick and Jo bounce out of middle/high school and decide they want to be photographers. There are SO MANY already... It's almost a fear that "with every new photographer on the market, I become less needed and my work less valuable."

3.We're not paying you to write the blog posts that are invaluable to us. Yet, you do it faithfully. Why?

Thanks for reading this. I know it's a lot.
Sincerely,
Perilous Photographer


Dear Perilous Photographer,
Welcome to my blog, a small place on the web that has--somehow--become a way for me to connect with people who, like you, start as readers and morph into friends. And as any friend knows, I answer every question I can, so let me dive into yours...


1. How is it you seem so happy to share all your secrets?
Let's get one thing straight: I don't have secrets. In fact, there is little in the photo industry that can be considered a "secret", so the minute you shift your perspective, you'll see it too. Sure, we might have our own ways of running a business, but we all use a camera, edit our photos (that were captured using similar lenses) with virtually the same processing software, and often doubt our ability to produce work we love. We're more alike than we'd like to admit.
Everything I've shared on my blog--everything--I've learned from others. When I first started my photo career, I felt incredibly overwhelmed and alone. I spent weeks online learning how to use a camera and as the months passed, I promised that--one day--I'd share freely what I learned because freely it was given to me. This blog and its posts dedicated to helping others is simply a effort to pay it forward.

2. Why do you seem happy about encouraging others to be photographers?
Two weeks ago I completed the Strength Finders test. I'd heard great things about this test, so I spent $20 to help me find my strengths as I move into a new venture in my career. What the test revealed, however, was something I knew, but was embarrassed to admit. My top two strengths were Achiever and Focus, and a byproduct of these traits is the desire for success...for myself, but it was equally as important for others. If I can help others be successful, I'm functioning at my greatest strength. I've been blogging nine years and it's the first time I was able to embrace that others' successes make me happy.

3. We're not paying you to write the blog posts that are invaluable to us. Yet, you do it faithfully. Why?
As a child, my mother trained me to think differently. If we read at the library, we needed to organize the books before we left. If we used a playroom, we were expected to clean the toys. As life progressed, my mother's expectations have remained tattooed to my heart.
I faithfully write blog posts because I'm supposed to leave the photo industry different than I found it. If I share, it encourages other photographers to share and when they share, it encourages others to follow suit. The more information available for photographers to get better, the industry, collectively, will get better. And that couldn't make me prouder.

Perilous, I hope you see things in a new light today. Sharing does more for your business than secrets do. Really. As you follow your passion, help others along the way so they can celebrate your success with you.
Give Until You Can't,
j*
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York Wedding Photographer - It's true that some people have things they don't want to share with their local rivals. I certainly do.  03.12.14 - 5:16am
Amy - And this is why I love your blog :)  03.11.14 - 2:32am
Lucia - This is why I love your blog, you are one of the first blogs I found when decided to work as a photographer and I have been following you since then (I found you mentioned in David Ziser's blog) . Your enthusiasm is contagious and is crazy that it could travel kilometeres to the south and encourage me to follow what I love. I have to thank you for that infinite times. Thanks for sharing it all. What your mother taught you is great and I would love to do the same and to pass it to my childrens. Thanks J*!  02.24.14 - 10:08am
Gee - Great read, thank you for sharing.  02.19.14 - 6:42pm
sejan - I've always wanted to dive into some high-end photography, but it has always seemed difficult. This was a great read and helped ease some concerns.   02.19.14 - 11:53am
Clifton Man - Wow, really great post! I understand the feeling of not wanting to share “secrets”. Once I’ve found a location I really like, I feel very reluctant to share it with my other photographer friends. However, maybe I should be more willing to share my “secret”, ha. Thanks again!  02.15.14 - 4:08pm
Norma Skinner - Thanks for listening to your Mum/Mom. Sharing is contagious.  02.12.14 - 1:00pm
Ray Urner - This is my new favorite blog post from you. Thanks for writing this. We can all help each other, and we all started somewhere, right?  02.12.14 - 12:31pm
Kama Carranza - Jasmine...you are seriously the heart of the photography business. It doesnt matter if you are a photographer, a painter or a florist...you set an exemplary standard of how anyone should run a business, help others and teach passion. Thank you.  02.12.14 - 8:22am
Melissa - This is the very reason why I love you so much. (Seriously, we are BFFs in my head. We chat infrequently though, as in never, because you are a busy girl, but I totally understand.) I am not a photographer, but I am deeply in love with the art of capturing moments that tell a story. At one time I wanted my passion to be my career and when I got up the courage to approach two of my heroes, I was completely disheartened by their replies. One told me that she wasn't about to share her intellectual property with me and risk losing her customers and the other never replied, but posted messages on Facebook and her blog about how sick she was of every soccer mom with a camera thinking that they could do what she does. I was crushed. The later had taken pictures of my daughter multiple times and she always replied to my e-mails when I was scheduling an appointment. You, on the other hand, capture and share beautiful images, put yourself out there until it hurts and are one of the most authentic human beings I have ever come in contact with. I love your family and friends like they are my own. Your visual and linguistic imagery make me swoon. I take your posts as personal messages to me, pushing me to go after my dreams. I learn a little more about how to use my camera here than anywhere else on the web. I have employed your techniques for dealing with people in business meetings. What you share is truly priceless and because you do it with heart and soul, you are differentiate yourself naturally. I hope your success always surpasses your wildest dreams because you are leaving the whole, wide world better than you found it. Stay fabulous, J*.  02.11.14 - 7:53pm
Ashley Rogers - Wow, thank you J! You are wonderful; thank you for investing and believing in us. <3  02.11.14 - 3:58pm
gabrielle fulmer - Jasmine, you're a pure gem. Thank you so much.  02.11.14 - 12:57pm
Monika Greenaway - Oh...bravo...beautifully written Miss.Jasmine!! xoxo.  02.11.14 - 12:48pm
Vaughn Barry Photography - Well thought out share about sharing Jasmine, I wasn't afforded the luxury of someone. I've learned (learning) the art on my own however now I'm being approached to mentor and it's an odd circle. I love this post, it's given me a new angle to challenge my thoughts on it. Thanks so much!  02.11.14 - 6:04am
Moi - Thank you for sharing and BTW your new website is AWESOME! Love it!  02.11.14 - 12:51am
Michelle S Hanks - What a great post and thank you for always sharing your heart. Your journey has blessed me beyond words.  02.10.14 - 9:54pm
michele.hans@gmail.com - Wow. Love this! You come from such a pure, positive place. You are doing great things for the photography industry and I appreciate your blog so much! Thank you for all you do! XO  02.10.14 - 8:45pm
Quinn Burke - I've gained so much knowledge from other photographers willing to share, and I feel it's important to give back as well. And teaching aids in learning as well :)  02.10.14 - 6:45pm
Anna - Thanks, Jasmine! This post came at just the right moment! Your faithful encouragement is greatly appreciated!   02.10.14 - 5:28pm
ELP - That is exactly why God blesses you more each day. You have a kind heart! Love the blog. You are definitely changing the industry...God bless u always!   02.10.14 - 5:01pm
Yuliya M. - Yes! Jasmine you did again! Amazing post. Thank you so much. If it wasn't for you sharing with the world, I would have never been a photographer, I was too afraid to admit my love for pretty photos, I would have never charged anyone, and I would have never ran a business I do today! I've met you once, but you have become my mentor in this crazy journey the past few years and I love you for it! You are very much appreciated!!! ;)  02.10.14 - 4:23pm
Francis - I Started in Photography a few years ago and i felt like photographers always had this "your trying to steal my secrets" thing about them. I also spent hours on youtube videos and pinteres learning how to use my camera and how to process my photos. HECK im still learning. I also promise myself that some day i will help "the new guy". Recently I had some one come up to me and ask about my business, my equipment, what i process with ... and i had this !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! moment because .. i could finally Give :) Thank you J*  02.10.14 - 3:51pm
bobbie brown - such a great post! I love how you share with us all - thank you!   02.10.14 - 1:06pm
Stephanie Rose - You're more than brilliant. Thank you for sharing.   02.10.14 - 12:51pm
kat - thank you for sharing! for being the spark that lights up others' dreams, for putting a smile in our faces and leaving a positive mark!   02.10.14 - 11:50am
rollee - " ... because I'm supposed to leave the photo industry different than I found it." This cannot be expressed more eloquently than by you J*! :) Don't we all want to improve our art and biz each and every time we pickup our camera? That is progress. As much as one can copy / inspire, talent can never be duplicated. There is nothing to fear.  02.10.14 - 11:04am
Eileen - Amazingly written. Immediately after reading this, I thought, 'this is not just for photography, but this is how we should LIVE OUR LIVES.' Be real. Be transparent. Love. Live. Give. Share. Laugh. Be blessed, Eileen (Vancouver, British Columbia)  02.10.14 - 10:53am
Kristin - Jasmine, you are one inspiring women!   02.10.14 - 10:02am
Valerie Whetzel - J*- You, and you alone have given me so much knowledge and encouragement I will forever be thankful! And although we have never met, I feel like you are a friend I can count on for encouragement and advice. So thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for ALL your hard work. It really does mean a lot, to a lot of us! <3  02.10.14 - 9:58am
Daniel Grove - Thank you for sharing... about your sharing! I too feel obligated (but I really enjoy it) to teach people about photography who are interested. I learned everything the hard way and it took years. I love the joy of helping someone the way I wish I would have been helped. If they make it they make it, but perhaps my training will show them whether or not photography is for them. But I give them a chance. Anyway, you're awesome keep of the good work.  02.10.14 - 9:41am
Cori Mc - Wow!!! Great blog and great insight into who we are called to be as individuals! We are here to help those around us, not crush them to make ourselves look better! Thank you for sharing from your heart!   02.10.14 - 9:38am
sheng - Amen to this posting. Thank Jasmine for being you.   02.10.14 - 9:28am
Rita Temple - Your momma was one smart lady to make sure those awesome qualities are engrained in you. :-)   02.10.14 - 9:22am
Rima Hassan - If it wasn't for YOU Jasmine, I would have never been able to help other photographers with the information of how they can get into the secretive industry in Dubai & where to go buy their equipment (as online shopping isn't as common here). Thank You for being an inspiration and guiding me with how to be a better photographer & person! Love you loads <3  02.10.14 - 9:19am
Linda - Almost 6 years ago Jasmine encouraged me to GO for it! and I did. She and David Jay blazed the trail to break down the walls of photographers being all for themselves. They have given so much and encouraged so many. me being one of those.  02.10.14 - 9:18am
Dara - Thanks for the questions and answer. Jasmine I found you on Creativelive and have enjoyed following you since. I have fears of wedding photography but would really like to go that directions. No one around my small town is willing to share advice even those that are retiring so I so love the unselfish advice you give and have found myself helping those less experienced as me....pay it forwarded. Again thanks.  02.10.14 - 9:14am
Jenny - Beautiful post. I had many of these same thoughts when I first started following you 3+ years ago. As I develop as a professional, I've realized many of the points you made in this post. Your way of expressing yourself is also a treasure. Thank you for being you.   02.10.14 - 9:12am
Jennifer Hudspeth - j*, your honesty, integrity, and the ability to push yourself past your comfort zone amazes me. I have followed this blog, for. like. ever. I have followed for so long, not only as an admirer of your work, but for posts like these. Something about the way you write and connect with people, it just takes away all of those anxieties and pressures the photography industry sometimes seem to place on us. (I could keep running with that sentence.) It reminds us, if we are true to who we are... what do we have to fear? Nothing and no one. #fearless   02.10.14 - 9:00am
Debbie Lefever - This is GREAT! I'm a self taught photographer...which means I've had hundreds of teachers (both virtually & in person). I love teaching what I know as it's my way of repaying those who got me where I am now. Also, by teaching/sharing it reinforces my learning. Physician learn by...see one...do one...teach one. Then you own the knowledge. Thanks for who you are!  02.10.14 - 8:54am
Michelle - Jasmine thank you for being willing to share your "behind the scenes". I have loved reading your stories have found the information you've shared to be helpful and inspiring. Keep up the good work. :)  02.10.14 - 8:46am
Melanie Höld - Thank you Jasmine, I really believe that our world only has a chance to move forward if we all admit to work together, to follow our dreams together, to see the world in a lighter perspective, we are not victims of our destiniy, we are creaters of our world ... thanks for sharing, lovely Jasmine. xox Mella   02.10.14 - 8:43am
Levi Wiggins - Great stuff, Jasmine! Brilliant, and helpful, as we've come to expect.  02.10.14 - 8:43am
Navdeep - I think most of the photographers feel when they share experience .. they are sharing business secrets which actually is not the case. Its more about connecting with people.  02.10.14 - 8:38am
Gary Simmons - Nothing to add except... "Exactly!"   02.10.14 - 8:36am
CdvaPhotography - Super great answer... that is why you keep us inspired ... all the best   02.10.14 - 8:33am
Denise Espinosa - I agree 100% - although you fine very little that do in this industry. Oh I wish to maybe get 30 minutes of your time one day (on my bucket list) jejejeje God Bless  02.10.14 - 8:32am
sarah (danaher) bradshaw - Jasmine, I've been following your blog for more than 5 years now, and I am continually blown away by how amazing your posts and perspectives are. Thank you so much for caring enough about the photography industry to want to change it. xoxo  02.10.14 - 8:28am
Christine - Great post Jasmine! :)   02.10.14 - 8:27am
Ashley Urke | Domestic Fashionista - I love what you said about leaving the photography world a better place. If only we could have that mindset about all areas of life! Good words and well said! Thank you!  02.10.14 - 8:24am