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Community over competition: Community is a verb

Bride and grooms wedding at Gaynes ParkThis year, we celebrate moving into our 8th year in business. Weddings and the industry itself has changed a lot during that time. One constant in our business however has been rejecting the idea that those in the same profession as us are our competition. They are of course, in some sense of the word, but that doesn’t have to be a negative thing. Competition can be healthy. Competition can encourage you to up your game or to take another path. Your competition can also be your community and your support network. No one quite understands the crazy world of weddings and some of the unbelievable enquiries or demands like a fellow photographer. No one else quite understands how mentally and physically draining taking photographs can actually be. So it can be nice to have somewhere, or someone to unload to every so often.

Community over competition

That’s always been how we’ve chosen to see things. The idea of helping one another out and being pals with our peers makes everyone better photographers. Once a community is established we’re able to work together to make our industry better. A better industry, with higher standards benefits all of us.

In recent(ish) years the term “community over competition” has been coined. Every so often a whirlwind rushes in and there’s a whole hooo haaa about it. Lots of fancy posts appear on instagram alongside sentimental quotes and shareable sound bites. In that week or so, everything is vibrant and fresh and we’re all united. We all have each others back. We’re united. And it’s all thanks to some modern calligraphy against a pastel pink backdrop. You got this #bossbabe

Jokes aside. As quickly as it begun it all dies down again and soon we’re back to a place where instagram stories become little digs and Facebook posts get a bit more snipey and vague. Everyone loves a helper, a supporter, a lover, a mentor and we all love the idea that the wedding industry is one big happy family- particularly the relationships between other photographers.

It’s not just a hashtag on instagram

But community over competition isn’t just a hashtag on instagram. Community isn’t just a word that can be whispered once a year and expected to sustain itself thereafter. It requires action. Community is verb. It’s a doing word. It’s something you build and nurture and invest in so that ultimately you can watch it grow.

That means being an active participant and it means living by the words you speak. It’s easy to reel off sentimental captions and preach about building one another up. It’s easy to repost the shareable quotes and it’s even easier to get caught up in this whole dreamy idea of an industry that’s tight knit. What’s not to easy is actioning those things and where necessary, adapting your behaviour or habits to echo the words that you speak.

If you truly believe in the idea of community then simply being more mindful can help that community, your community to grow. It all starts with you.

Small steps

We’re not talking going full on mentor, event organiser and pillar of the community here. None of us realistically have time for that, especially in August. Small actionable things can make a huge difference though. Reeling in negativity for example and asking yourself whether you really *need* to post that or what it’ll gain. Being more mindful of how you present your opinions. Giving people the benefit of the doubt. Giving a peer a like on a photo rather than scrolling by. Connecting with another supplier directly rather than going via the bride/groom. Small things turn into big things that ultimately help us all feel a bit more connected and a bit more noticed. That’s how communities are made and sustained. Worth a try right?

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