Why all the secrets?
Why all the secrets?

I have to be honest, I’m always amazed when I hear from someone saying they asked another photographer a question and they didn’t answer them.

We all know it isn’t the camera or the gear that makes the photographer so why are we terrified to share what gear or editing software we use?

I’m not talking about asking someone to mentor you for free, just a simple, what type of camera do you have? Or What lens is that?

Why do we feel like this is top secret information?

I’m not saying you have to share every piece of information you have learned. Learning photography is hard work. I know how much time and money goes into figuring out this art and become confident in your work.

Why all the secrets with photography? via Click it Up a Notch

The next time someone contacts you to help them out, you have a couple of options.

  • No.
    Answer the basics.

    If they are curious about your gear, tell them. Even if they do go out and buy the exact same camera and lens you have, it doesn’t mean they will be able to photograph a moment the way you can. It doesn’t mean they will edit the image like you and it doesn’t mean they will become just like you. Everyone has their own way of seeing a scene before they capture it.

  • No.
    Point them in the right direction.

    If someone asks you to share all your secrets and you don’t want to, tell them where to look. Send them to my site (thanks) or to Clickin’ Moms. Say something like, “Thanks so much for the compliment of my work. I’m flattered. I have spent the last ____ years learning all I can about photography. If you are serious about learning more you should check out _________ (insert photography website, book, or class here). If you can share a workshop or class you have taken, I’m sure they would really appreciate that. Then it’s up to them to do all the leg work. Don’t forget, I’ll be offering an online workshop in the Spring.

  • No.
    Offer to mentor.

    You may have a passion for teaching and sharing your knowledge. Awesome. You can offer to mentor them either for free or for a fee. That is completely up to you. I have taught countless friends how to shoot on manual mode. It is fun for me and I love watching them grow into amazing photographers and am honored to have been a part of that journey. Like I said, you don’t have to share everything for free. Consider creating a mentoring rate. Then if someone contacts you to be mentored you are ready and can say “Sure, this is my rate.” This is especially helpful if you are business and the person contacting you would also like to go into business in the same town. In fact, many photographers won’t mentor people in the same town. I get that. In that case, I would stick with tip #2 and point them in the right direction.

I don’t think photography has to be this huge secret. I don’t understand why we are terrified to share the basic knowledge that is out there.

We all started somewhere.

We all picked up a camera and had no idea what aperture, ISO, and shutter speed was.

I was blessed with a friend to hold my hand and help me. Were you? If so, pay it forward.

If you weren’t blessed with someone to help then let’s stop that cycle and pay it forward.

  • January 14, 2015 at 10:52 AM

    Love this! Thanks so much for sharing. I am still towards the beginning of my photography journey, but far enough in to look at my pictures from a year or two ago and think, “Ugh! How awful!” Your website has been SUCH a huge help because you answer all of “those questions” in your posts and tutorials! I have learned more from you than from any of my photographer friends. :) Can’t wait to try a Clickin’ Mom’s class, but until then, I have plenty to learn and practice from right here on your site. So thanks a bunch!

  • January 14, 2015 at 11:15 AM

    This!!! We need to help each other because when one person improves we all win, they might even learn enough to repay teaching you a thing or two in the future. After all, “a candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.” – James Keller

  • January 14, 2015 at 11:15 AM

    You hit this one on the head. I didn’t understand why these were such well guarded secrets. Thank you so much for mentoring so many of us!

  • Beth
    January 14, 2015 at 11:17 AM

    Yes! Thank you for this. Just asked a photographer this morning if she’d post her settings on a picture she posted. <—– That to me is immensely helpful. I'm just a beginner, but won't always be and when I get there, I vow to be open and helpful.

  • Donna Niemann
    January 14, 2015 at 11:31 AM

    I love reading all of your articles. I agree when everybody shares there time and talent everybody wins.

  • Paul
    January 14, 2015 at 11:33 AM

    I think you will find most amateur photographers are fearful of being ridiculed about their abilities and equipment, maybe that is the reason for the reluctance to share information. I am mainly into wildlife and birds living here in South Africa so my equipment will always vary from other photographers. I tend to find my peers rather trying to force their ideas onto me. Remember everyone has a budget and can only go so far equipment wise.

  • January 14, 2015 at 11:55 AM

    I agree..sharing is so much better than hoarding:)
    In any job..the same applies..help a newcomer our..
    Recipes..share them..Etc etc..Love the little girl here:)

    I disagree that tips can’t be shared.I am a humble blogger and I have had fun when peope have asked me questions..I talk about exposure..ask them what kind of camera they have.. to ook on Youtube.etc.There are tips and tricks. Like sharpening and backgrunds etc..
    I feel great when I can help someone.Even in a small small way.

    January 14, 2015 at 12:34 PM

    THANK YOU SO MUCH for saying it how it is! i am still early on in this journey but seem to be a hands on learner in most cases and work a full time job as well as being a mother of 3 and wife. so i don’t have a ton of time to do this but really LOVE it. So i wish i could find someone local that would actually want to teach me (not to be like them, just more basics of photography & equipment) so i don’t have to read so much~i hate reading lol~ i have come across this too and it makes me laugh because some are people i know learned from other photographers! Your so right and i say that all the time- We all have to start somewhere!!!! Thanks again.

  • rebecca
    January 14, 2015 at 12:45 PM

    Great post. I couldn’t agree more.

  • January 14, 2015 at 1:24 PM

    As a self taught photographer, still learning, I appreciate what you said. I have learned so much from the gracious photographers who have shared their likes, dislikes; settings and edits with me. It gave me a reference point. A place to jump off from. Once I had that, I could discern who I was as a photographer. My eyes, my head and my heart are different from anyone elses. I am going to interpret what I see in a very different way than you are.
    But please, help me learn.
    Thank you

  • January 14, 2015 at 1:27 PM

    Great post. I especially like tip number 2. I learn better by reading/seeing, so giving me some handy websites to look at can be more helpful than actually telling me what to do.

  • Nancy
    January 14, 2015 at 5:58 PM

    Epic! YOU charge to help. So, “why all the secrets”? Why not just share your e-books & workshops for free!

    • January 14, 2015 at 6:18 PM

      Hey Nancy,

      As I mentioned in #3, I don’t think there is anything wrong with charging for your knowledge, but like I said in #1, I have absolutely no problem telling people what gear and editing software I use. In fact, I have countless tutorials on that. I hope I did not give the vibe that I think all information should be free. I do feel people should be able to charge for their knowledge and expertise :)

  • Michele
    January 14, 2015 at 10:17 PM

    Ever thought about somehow setting something up for people who want to get together in person? Either to learn from someone in person, or set up a local photography club int heir own state? Or is that just asking for trouble, being strangers and all…?? Just a thought.

  • January 15, 2015 at 1:48 PM

    Great article! I’m really a fan of your blog. As an amateur photographer I love to ask photographers for little tips & tricks. I once sent a message to one of the most well-known photographers of my local town. I didn’t just get 1 small sentence back, the guy send me really big messages back! Personally I think that that’s a great thing to do as a photographer. Now I’m even a bigger fan of him and I would love to do a workshop from him once!

  • January 16, 2015 at 6:58 AM

    Beautifully written! You are not only an amazing photog, but you have the gift of writing, too! Very well said! Keep up the awesome work! :)

  • January 16, 2015 at 8:15 AM

    I get this all the time! I’m two years into my photography journey and I am constantly learning new things. When I see another local photographer post a photo and I like the way it looks, I will ask about lighting, location, editing tips, etc… NEVER get anything in return! I’m fortunate to see that some well-known photographers offer mentoring sessions that I will probably take advantage of! My goal is to be an amazing wedding photographer!!! Thanks for the post!!

  • Tish
    January 16, 2015 at 2:01 PM

    I appreciate so much all that you wrote here. I am self-taught, and by self-taught I mean with the help of my camera manual and photography books, but especially with the help of your site and several other extremely generous photographers willing to share information on their blogs. I am forever grateful because it has opened up a passion I didn’t know existed in me!

  • January 17, 2015 at 12:58 AM

    i love this post. i couldn’t agree more! very well said.
    keep up the amazing work! xo

  • January 18, 2015 at 8:21 PM

    There are so many people who open a photography business with all the right equipment and tricks. I’ve even hired several of them. However, true talent doesn’t rub off…. no matter how close you stand to each other.

    I could read all of the the wonderful posts here and still need to hire a professional. I appreciate a photographer with a REAL eye. Thank you for sharing.

  • Joelle
    February 27, 2015 at 8:33 AM

    Thanks for the tips… my issue is when a friend wants to become a ‘photographer’ and lives only several blocks away. I don’t want to mentor her because I don’t want it to interfere with our friendship. I have already noticed that she is copying my work pose by pose… and to be honest, I am a little bugged by it. Any suggestions on how to deal with this? (getting lots of questions on how I do certain edits… etc..)

    • February 27, 2015 at 5:02 PM

      Hey Joelle,

      That is tough, I would say be honest with her. Tell her you worked for hours learning everything you learned and you recommend she check out x,y, and z to learn more. :)

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