Sunday, October 01, 2006

Your Advice Please

In college I remember learning that the responsibility to communicate a message is that of the communicator not the reciever. 90% of what I do is communication oriented and I realize that I failed miserably at communicating a message this past weekend...and it created quite a stir.

So I sent an email to Derek tonight apologizing for not taking the extra time to present my message in a way that would get it across without looking like I was personally attacking him and giving him the option of whether or not the email stayed on the blog.

I posted the email, along with my responses, because I wanted to get the message across that the world is very connected and anything you say or do has the potential to reach 1000's of people in a matter of seconds. Because of my pride and my sarcasm the message came across as me attacking Derek or trying to get revenge or hold him down. Not at all the what I was trying to do or communicate.

My thoughts - Nearly every wedding I go to I have a bridesmaid or groomsman come up to me and tell me how rude the photographer was at the last wedding they were at, I get voiemails from photographers screaming about this or that, and emails from people who pretty much say they hate me because I charge a lot of money. My friend Dane was even interupted during one of his talks at PartnerCon by somebody who just didn't know how to act in public. I think there is a big problem with how a lot of photographers interact with other people and because I live and work in this industry my hope is to see all of us change into being more likable people and I think if we are aware that what we say and do will have consequences and people will find out about it we will be more careful about saying things that we shouldn't.

So a couple of questions...

Question #1 - If somebody is intentionally hurting people or is just generally mean should we open it up for everyone to know about? I'm not talking about somebody making a mistake, we all make mistakes. Should we keep it a secret and allow them to continue on or bring it out in the open?

Question #2 - If you answered that we shouldn't bring it out in the open then give me a long term approach to how we will solve this problem in our industry. By long term I mean a solution that doesn't focus on changing that one person or that one problem but a solution that let's everyone in the future know that this sort of behavior is not ok.

Question #3 - If you answered that we should bring it out in the open then what steps need to happen before it's brought out in the open and how should it be presented to let everyone know to protect themself and avoid this person.

....and if there are other options through them in. I'm always up for conversation and I'm honestly seeking a solution because if we've gotta spend our lives in this industry let's at least strive to make it better.

26 comments:

Deyl said...

I always appreciate your willingness to learn and receive advice. I would say YES to #1... anything done intentionally should be brought up.

However, I think it should be run past the "accused" first, just in case there was a miscommunication on their part :)

Erik Dungan said...

Question #1

If they are hurting them in public, then there's no need (its already public). In this case, it wasn't a public complaint/insult, and I tend to think it would be inappropriate to make a private email public (not to say I wouldn't be tempted). Also, in light of the recent Craigslist scandal, one could be treading near "violation of privacy" territory if your actions caused harm to or mis-identified the person.


Question #2

What problem are we referring to?

--

DJ, I appreciate your efforts here and I'm glad you contacted Derek to resolve the situation. We all make mistakes ... there's two types of people in this world: sinners saved by grace, and those that need to be.

Phil Barber said...

Hi DJ,

This is a difficult subject to tackle and solve. It's not only found in the photography industry but probably most industries.
The common factor is 'People'

No matter what walk of life you are in - if you have worked hard to develop a career or a business - there will always be people out there that will feel they should be successful or be allowed to charge the prices you do.

But are not prepared to put the work in.

Photography - whether it be Wedding or Portaits - is becoming easier for anyone to get into. The advent of cheaper digital cameras and the fact you have no processing costs means that the barrier to entry of the business is going.

So anybody with a few thousand pounds ($5,000) could start up and call themselves a photographer.

The problem is they might not have any business skills / people skills and are not prepared to learn how to use the camera.

People don't instantly become a very successful photographer overnight.

People who are successfull in business don't do it overnight. There are lots of years of hard work / late nights / not having much money / sacrifices to make.

But if they are honest to themselves and more importantly to their clients and customers, then they can and will be successfull.

The only time success comes before work is in the dictionary!

How to bring it out in the open? I don't think you need to. If a photographer is poor at what he does and has a bad attitude, this will come across in his work.

REPUTATION IS EVERYTHING!

It works on the same basis as recommendations. If your clients love you they will tell loads of people. If you are rubbish - they will tell loads of peolpe. No refferals will come.

They will go out of business.

Do you have a industry wide qualification that says you are a good photographer and reach certain standards - I don't know.

Most of the ones in the UK you can join for a small fee. Get a logo to put on your website and say you are good but no selection process or exam has been taken to prove this. Anybody can do this even if you are a bad photographer.

The difficulty is that if you start getting involved with other photographers who are not helping the business - do you want to spend all that time and energy on that - or all that time and energy on your business and helping peolple who want to be helped.

Phil :)

OpenSourcePhoto said...

...do you want to spend all that time and energy on that - or all that time and energy on your business and helping peolple who want to be helped.

Phil :)

---------------

Brilliant point and great post!

MarkGalligan said...

What about some type of BBB for photographers?? Great point Phil!

Billy Diesel said...

"Be the change you want to see in the world."

Nothing you can say can speak louder than your own actions. And I believe you to be a person whose actions speak MUCH louder than most others.

I think the Internet gives us a sheild of anonymity that we feel safe behind. It's similar to road rage. We all have no problem yelling from inside the safety of our own car, but we wouldn't be nearly so bold confronting someone face-to-face.

I think we should adopt a general rule of not writing anything online without first considering if we'd say the same thing in public if the person were sitting right next to us.

In this example, would you have done the same thing in person? Say someone privately confronted you at PartnerCon and told you how much they think you (and your friends) suck. Would you then point him out in the ballroom, tear apart what he said, and have everyone join together to say that he's wrong? I know that that's an extreme example, but I also believe that this person would never have made such comments without the shield of the Internet as well.

I agree with Phil... Focus your energy on bettering your business and continuing to share the love with those who wish to receive it. :)

Thx for sharing the love here.

-Billy

katiebt said...

It's such an interesting situation. Humanly I would respond in a certain way....but then I'm reminded of another point of view. It's coming from a Christian perspective...which you are. I know you have considered this, but here is my take.

As Christians, we are called to judge or bring into light, other Christians. We are to hold each other accountable and support in that way. We were called to do this. But, we were not called to do this to the world. This is to be left for our Father to do. He is just. Like many have said, there are obvious consequences to a business and a man who behaves in this way. It shows him little to see you expose him. Other than being mad at you. My FIRST flesh response would be...not a good one. I do think it's helpful to really understand that it's not our job. His customers will catch on to this.

Maybe a post where you showed the letter with no names telling how this hurt you and asking support from you friends. I could totally see that. I actually posted a painful situation with the Business name I was dealing with on OSP. I later regretted that decision. I should have omitted the name.

I do understand the feelings. It's protective, we don't like mean people hurting others. It's instinctive to let others know and protect them in it.

I hope you understand my thoughts.

Katie

Liana said...

"As Christians, we are called to judge or bring into light, other Christians. We are to hold each other accountable and support in that way. We were called to do this. But, we were not called to do this to the world. This is to be left for our Father to do. He is just. Like many have said, there are obvious consequences to a business and a man who behaves in this way. It shows him little to see you expose him. Other than being mad at you. My FIRST flesh response would be...not a good one. I do think it's helpful to really understand that it's not our job. His customers will catch on to this. "

My thoughts exactly (above).

Plus - if he's already making them public (like Erik mentions) no need to add to it.

If it's a personal attack, talk to the person directly about it.

Thanks for a great debate and some really good thinking this weekend DJ and for you being open for opinions ;)

Mary Jane said...

I think if we all put a little more time and energy into worrying about bettering ourselves instead of others, the world would be a much better place.

It's not our job to put someone in their place in front of 1000's of people. I'm quite sure that this man's outlook and attitude on life is punishing him daily.

In my opinion, the email itself was so ridiculous that it didn't even warrant a response! The email was almost humorous... His words can't change who you are, it won't change how others feel about you.

I think this email was an opportunity for you to reconfirm who you are and to gain confidence in yourself.

-Matt said...

Question #1 - I think we will all have different answers to this depending on the sort of person we are. MY answer is that I try to be nice to everyone except people who don't deserve it. I understand that the general answer to that is "they need the kindness more" and that we shouldn't judge people etc - but that doesn't fit into my worldview. My worldview is that I'm going to treat someone as they treat others as often as possible. If someone's kind, like you DJ, I'm going to be kind to them. If they are a jerk, I don't have a problem ignoring them OR being a jerk back so they get a little bit of a taste of what they're doing to people. But I don't advocate everyone do what I do! :)

Question #2 - The long term solution to this problem of jerky photographers is to succeed. Now I didn't say this yesterday because the argument never got around to a more proper solution but the absolute best, 100% awesome solution is just win. Be the best, create this unbelievable network of fantastic photographers, and let everyone who's a jerk stay on the outside. If people see that there's a better answer on the other side, maybe they'll be nicer. If not, they can struggle along themselves.

We can't do anything like stop jerks from seeing Dane speak. And if someone chooses to heckle me at WPPI they really won't be dealing with the same kind of person as you ya know? I think people need to know that it's an unacceptable way to act IF they want to be part of something bigger than themselves.

So like I said - just grow with it, just take you and your network of friends and RUN - prove that your way, the nice, likable way, is THE WAY to go and we'll see what happens! :)

~Matt

Daniel J. Watkins Photography said...

DJ (don't get too big a head from this, mmmmmm-kay?)...

As a leader in our industry, you are like the sun. You provide nourishment to all of the flowers and plants in the garden. Unfortunately...the weeds benefit from the sun too (even if they don't realize it, and all they are worried about is how pretty all the other plants and flowers are looking).

Don't waste your time worrying about and trying to get rid of the weeds, or the rest of the plants may not be able to get the nourishment that they need.

Let the rest of the plants take care of the weeds. They are quite capable of recognizing which ones are helpful and which ones are harmful in the garden.

Love,
The "dumb ash" tree...

amynave said...

One reason I have always looked up to you is you're an amazing teacher. And I have learned so much even from you posting this crazy e-mail. These things need to be brought out in the open so people know that writing e-mails like this is not acceptable at ALL. So I say #1 all the way. Maybe an e-mail or phone call to the person first might be good. However, something like this was not miscommunicated and what you did was totally fine.

-Vue- said...

Actually got a question for you:
When you see stinky poo in your walking path what do you do? Step all over it because it offends you-- or walk around it?

^_^ ^_^

-Vue- said...

Not that I'm implying the person is poo but the situation :P

ron said...

Kinda funny that you referred to Dane at the conference. Because Me Ra and I were talking during lunch and I mentioned how someone was rude and creating a ruckus in the back of your meeting.

Evidently he then went to Dane's and created a bigger mess. So, Me Ra wanted to know who it was and....well, she beat it out of me. Actually she just guessed, because she was in Dane's meeting.

Well, as sessions moved along he was in her meeting room too! So, she approached him in private and told him what she would be speaking about. And she told him sternly that the way he behaved with Dane would not be appropriate and he would be asked to leave.

So, I guess we pray, respond kindly in person, and if all fails.. tell their mom ; )

DJ - check out 1 Peter 2:21-23

MelissaCarl said...

Hey DJ-

This entire thread really makes me sad because it reminds me of a group that I used to be involved with. People that just love you and support you and lift you up with kind words - then they turn on you in the blink of an eye because you have done something they don't agree with. They look at you and say things like "of all people DJ I can't believe you have done this, I wouldn't even be tempted to do what you did and I can't believe you stooped this low"

They judge you and point fingers and say how they want to leave the forum because you have done something SO WRONG! It's an interesting way to live- to say the least!

I know you personally and I know your heart and it's so easy for me to see your intentions in posting that email. You are ALWAYS GIVING and I KNOW that you posted this email to help others. It's a crack up that people DON'T SEE THAT! You want to teach them things about marketing, running a successful business, how to have a possitive attitude about your business and how to bring photographers together to help each other. INSTEAD of attacking them and being bitter like Derek has been for SO LONG! Cracks me up that Derek is being treated like a victim. Very interesting.

You did NOT attach Derek, you didn't say rude things about him, you didn't post that in a way to "get back" You did it to HELP OTHERS see how important it is to have a GOOD ATTITUDE and that it's very important to work WITH PHOTOGRAPHERS - NOT AGAINST THEM!

I am sorry that people aren't understanding you! I really am. I hope that you know some of us got it and I support you 100%

Anonymous said...

Liana said,

"As Christians, we are called to judge or bring into light, other Christians."

Oh really. What happened to "judge not, lest you be judged"?

Since you opened that door, Liana, I am judging you (as a Christian) as being a poor christian and a fake fluffy person.

How much fun would it be to go to your seminar and then be judged? No THANK YOU!

Anonymous said...

my suggestion: delete the email post, apologize to Derek and try to help him change his attitude privately.

you might want to put a lid on this one!

Liana said...

Dear Anonymous,

Why do you hide behind your words?

I think the only thing we can do in this situation is find out what is REALLY said about "judge and being judged" through the WORD. That is what Katie posted below and I agreed with.

I personally believe it is our duty as friends and fellow believers to hold each other accountable and help each other. NOT to judge others outside our faith (or those who we do not know). DJ and I are friends and I have a lot of respect for him. I will continue to be friends and stand by him even when he does things I disagree with him - but I will not remain silent or agree. That's a bigger sin.

We're all allowed to disagree.

In fact, my business partner and I disagree on many things that we will bring to light in our seminars - for the good of all those attend to come do what works best for them. That is our strenght - agreeing to disagree.

I urge you dear Anonymous to go read what is really said about judging.

I'm sorry if my standing up for what I believe seems to be pointing fingers at any individuals who disagree.

-Matt said...

After the day we all had yesterday it's funny to do this, but I'm going to have to stand behind Liana as far as Anonymous goes - first of all, why be anonymous? DJ stood behind his post, Liana stood behind her condemnation of using the name and Derek signed his name to the email he wrote.

Second - as far as "judge not lest ye be judged" is concerned, I think you misunderstand. Jesus says (am I really saying this!) "Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits." Which really means Jesus fully expects you to "judge" who are false prophets, who are wolves, etc. According to the passage you are TRYING to use, it means "don't try to be someone's ultimate judge" - it doesn't mean "you can't have an opinion on anything."

I don't agree with most of what Liana said yesterday but two things stand out - she has been attacked more than anyone for a few choice words also spoken in frustration.

Let's get back to being nice to each other, and hopefully not be the friends who turn on others in an instant but rather friends who agree to disagree, share and LEARN from each other.

-Matt

Jasmine said...

DJ, it's SO awesome that you're creating discussion and soliciting advice...just further butresses your stature in this industry.
I think everyone brought up fantastic points, but it's important for you to realize that your experience has HELPED so many people! Be it a mistake, a blessing, and/or a disputable action, you've facilitated a way for us to clarify our position and philosophy regarding such matters.
You ROCK! :)

Mark Miller said...

Matt said:

Let's get back to being nice to each other, and hopefully not be the friends who turn on others in an instant but rather friends who agree to disagree, share and LEARN from each other.



Way to go Matt - you are spot on here.


There is a suggetstion fropm some commetators her that becasue some of us disagreed with DJ we are 'wrong' or that we are protecting Derek.

There were only a few of us who were really in the thick of it yesterday. Points were made, reiterated, remade and remade again. In the end we agreed to disagree. All of it was done with LOVE.

To have different points of view is healthy.

I am saddened at the suggestion that somehow we 'turned our backs' on DJ - check out the posts again - couldn't be further from the truth - particularly from Liana and I.

Anonymous - your out of order. What Matt said is (very surprisingly :)) completley correct.

Phil speaks words of wisdom on this issue.

Raymond said...

I think that one of the worst things that can be done is to delete all of this and try to act like it never happend.

I think there is good stuff from both "sides" of the opionion that can be learned here.

katiebt said...

"Anonymous said...
Liana said,

"As Christians, we are called to judge or bring into light, other Christians."

Oh really. What happened to "judge not, lest you be judged"?

Since you opened that door, Liana, I am judging you (as a Christian) as being a poor christian and a fake fluffy person.

How much fun would it be to go to your seminar and then be judged? No THANK YOU!"



Dear Anonymous,

I just want to Make it clear that Liana was quoting me. Although, she totally agrees with me, it was my statement. I understand that it catches you off guard. It is a common "myth" that Christians are not to judge. There are situations where we are not supposed to, but in the area that I was talking about it shows it clearly. I wanted to show you the verse, I didn't want you to think I was making it up. :)

1 Corinthians 5:12-13
It isn't my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your job to judge those inside the church who are sinning in these ways. God will judge those on the outsdie; but as the Scriptures say, "You must remove the evil person from among you."

This is what I was referring to. This is how we are to judge and how we are not to judge. The bible has many verses on judging and we are not the ultimate judge in any way, but we can go to our fellow Christian and show them the word in love. Show them how their actions are a contradiction to the word. We are not passing ultimate judgement.

I hope this explains it. I don't want it to be misunderstood. It is a delicate topic.:)

CrystalOH said...

My question would be: What is wrong with speaking the truth in love to anyone? Whether you/they are a believer or not. Why do you feel Dj was judging this man? His reply was convey'd with love and honesty. Isn't that what we are suppose to do..."love our enemies, do good to thoughs who despise us"? So why did he post it??? Knowing DJ, (and probably MUCH less then most of you) I feel his intention was honorable...in NO way do I believe he posted it as a attack on this man. NO WAY!! (even if it was, I could not fault him for it) We are all human which means...completely imperfect and PRONE to make mistakes DAILY. We are constantly being refined on a daily basis. That is what is so great about OSP...Iron sharpens Iron.

After saying that, I also appreciate the comments that disagree with his decision....but that should have also been done in a loving manner. If the decision he made to post this man's name was wrong or right...Dj should have never felt attacked by the people that say to be his friends.
"Do unto others the way you would want to be treated"..if I put myself in his position...I would have felt under attack!

And I know someone is thinking..."did DJ put himself in Dereks shoes before he posted the email"...maybe not...but let's face it...anything that is sent over the web..has the possiblity to be misdirected and misunderstood. We all take that risk when sending emails to each other. Even writing our comments on OSP.

To wrap up. We all fall short at times...but it is our responsiblity as brothers/sisters/friends...to help that person up and dust them off and continue to walk next to them... Let's not kick him when he's down. It's DJ's character that speaks louder then any words that have been written/typed on these pages. I'll stand by that character!

Frank DiMeo said...

Hey Bud, you're the best, what can I say?

You are an awesome photographer (although I have witnessed you proclaim not to be on several occasions) and a fantastic thinker. Your creative thinking has helped so many people, and we will never be able to thank you enough.

You are one of the finest human beings I know, and definitely one of the finest at being human.