I don’t know when or how the “Rockstar” stuff started in this community. I came into it in 2007 and I honestly didn’t know anyone from Adam. After spending some time online I saw some names were thrown around more than others but I didn’t really know one more than the other. I attended my first WPPI in 2008 and I was FLOORED to see girls squee-ing and giggling about taking a picture with Jesh de Rox. I had no clue who he was other than some guy who reminded me of a hippy from the 60s (mind you, nothing is wrong with that, my Dad was one). I mean sure, some of these people had amazing work and worked with some pretty awesome people but fangirling over a picture with them? Really? I met Jerry Ghionis and asked if he was a photographer. True story. I’ve somehow maintained that attitude throughout my career in the wedding world. I know who the “Rockstars” are now but I have never really held them above others in the field.
At that WPPI, I took a Plus Class with Mike Colon and to be quite honest, it just didn’t live up to my expectations. He seemed like he knew his stuff but the format was kind of crazy and I really felt more frustrated than anything at the end of the class. When I was on DWF a few weeks later people asked for reviews and I gave an honest review of my perspective of the class. There were a few people that shamed me but for the most part it was accepted well. I didn’t realize it at the time, but back then most people went by the old adage, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Oops. After that I somewhat took my “say it like it is” mentality and ran with it. I haven’t looked back since.
Others have been slower to say it like it is online. For the most part photographers online tended to bite their tongues and keep their true feelings about workshops or wares that Rockstars were selling to themselves (and a few close friends). No one was willing to stick their necks out and say what they truly felt about the products and workshops because they were afraid of what the Rockstar would do. When I asked a friend who had a terrible experience at a workshop why they wouldn't say so publicly, they replied, "what if they get mad!??!"
About a year ago Scarlett Lillian hosted a workshop. Once the reviews of Scarlett’s workshop hit the interwebs and they were NOT rave reviews it seemed to start a slow trickle, than a flow of people standing up and saying their honest thoughts about products, workshops and seminars by other photographers. However, they are often anonymous and sometimes you can tell they are still a bit watered down. I feel that we really are getting there with getting honesty in the wedding photography business. The past year has really given me hope that people are finally rising above the hero worshipping and not being afraid to say it like it is. This past week I feel that we as a community have came even further than before with not being afraid to voice our dissent when something is not right. I have been SO proud of my fellow photographers this week for taking a stand.
So what I want to do is encourage you to speak your mind and say what you think. I promise you that good or bad, you will be OK! I am living proof that pissing off a Rockstar (or ten) will not hurt you in the least. I still have a great career and am still booking weddings. Heck, while I was making waves yesterday, I managed to book a wedding with one email! My clients don’t know, nor care, that I made a new enemy today. However, my fellow photographers know my feelings and some have even told me that by my saying my peace about things, they’ve had their eyes open up and are so happy I was brave enough to take that step. I can’t even begin to tell you how many people have thanked me for my honest reviews I’ve done here and how they had a similar experience or that I’ve saved them money (even though they’ve said they are afraid to comment and say so).
Keep in mind, saying what you think ≠ slamming. I hate that so often people see a review that isn't oozing with compliments and immediately call that reviewer a hater or even funnier, jealous. Just because you disagree with a viewpoint does not mean that one is a hater or is jealous. Remember to not get personal and stick to the facts. Keep it classy when/if giving an honest review or critique.
Say what you think and trust me, you will be OK. You will still book clients and who knows? You may even make a friend or two.
Corey Ann is a wedding & lifestyle photographer from North Canton, OH. She is a mix of everything - fashionista (runs Clothes for Pros, clothing suggestions for photographers), travel guru, deal hound and geek rolled into one. She's had a website online since 1997 and a blog since 1999. When not plotting world domination or her next trip, she can be found reading one of the 100+ books she reads a year. Follow her on Twitter.