Being a professional photographer can often become isolating. You are working hard, delivering images your clients are happy with but often alone, even with your own team and the work it creates almost a vacuum of outside influences, those conversations with like minded people who see things slightly differently.
There is a good case for sucking up the ego and going to assist another photographer on their shoot, whether it is second shooting a wedding or just putting out there that you are struggling and need some help.
Last week I was offered exactly that opportunity at exactly the right time. To head up to Baltimore to work with ridiculously talented Sam Levitan, be part pack sherpa, part light stand, stand in model and assist in shooting a corporate CEO for an alumni magazine. It's an interesting experience to watch someone work whilst keeping mouth firmly zipped, watching how someone else sees their vision for the shot and how they interact very differently with a subject. Yes there is even a tinge of jealousy over it not being my gig, and loving the resulting images, so very different than I would have taken, but admiring them for exactly that reason at the same time.
Part of the afternoon was then spent talking at the studio with the stupidly talented global nomad - Erick Gibson. I met Erick a few years ago on a video shoot and remember at the time seeing his work and thinking "there is just no way I will ever be this good", honestly if I had other options I would probably have quit on the spot. I avidly attended exhibitions at his old studio and standing in front of pictures staring at the details, soaking up how far the gap was between our work. To sit and chat as almost equals, of life, clients, travel and expereince of doing what we do, while watching him standing staring at pictures hanging on the wall was incredibly cool. He's still stupidly good, an eye and vision for delivering an image that I'm not quite there with, but the gap is smaller than it once was. It was good to see him, to spend that time listening to someone that you once, and still do look up to, in your own studio.
Those days are good for the soul, to not be so isolated and sharing with others, talking freely.