#communityovercompetition | Community over Competition for Photographers

July 15, 2015
Rachel Avery Conley
A personal business post from Fotoskribe founder, Rachel Avery Conley

Building a business is hard… really hard. And being a soloprenuer, doing it from your home like most photographers are, can potentially add another level of isolation. When I left my job at MIT to open my first photography venture, I had no idea of this remoteness. I was so sure, a trait that I think helps when making huge life changes. I wasn’t afraid of the work, I was so excited to hit the ground running. But I quickly realized that customer issues – or unusual requests – are more fun when you have someone to bounce them off of. That moment when you do book a new client, you look around for someone to high five. And that sinking feeling when a potential client goes to another photographer, yeah, that’s no fun.

Fortunately for me, in February of that first year of business, I learned about a regional photography conference – Inspire Photo Retreats. This was their second year running it, and it was being held in Concord, MA, about 40 minutes from where I was living in Boston. I had 3 days to decide, and while my personal introvert tendencies cringed, I knew I needed interaction, people who understand. And that is where, amid a sea of “competition,” I found community.

Fast forward through five years, lots of life changes and a new business. That community still exists in my life and it has become the basis for my professional interactions.

Helping photographers blog was a natural next step because I was able to collaborate with my friends in this community and see a need. Fotoskribe was created to solve a problem that a lot of photographers I knew were having. And every step of this journey was done with their input and feedback – the year-long search for a name, the seemingly endless debates between Fotoskribe and Photoscribe, the design, the outreach, everything.

As we branch out into the more national market, I realize that not everyone is so fortunate in their particular regional groups, and it surprises me every time. Most of the big nationally known photographers or companies that work with photographers embody that sense of giving back, and that has aided them to get where they are.

Helping out, driving a lens to a photographer in need, buying lunch for a colleague (even one who works from home!) who’s having a bad week, I promise it will make YOU feel better. The feeling that I mentioned before, of losing a client to another photog, is very different when you know that person, and you understand the subtle differences between you and them as artists and as business people. It can help you to understand that that client may not have been the right client for you. Also, it can help you to work smarter and market to your strengths, knowing your “competition” (i.e friends) are playing to theirs. And, if all else fails, knowing that you can get out of your life and your business and spend time with other humans who understand.


That, to me, is community over competition. Need help getting started? Email a fellow creative person that you have met before and admire, and invite them to coffee. Listen to their story and see what happens.

photo credit: Kate McElwee for Inspire Photo Retreats