Is it an information Hit and Run

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Is it a simple case of information “Hit and Run”, a lack of understanding how valuable information is or just plain bad manners. What ever it is I am getting sick of it. What I am talking about is people who take the time to email me asking for advice, guidance on camera systems, shooting techniques and equipment used, that kind of thing. Their emails are always very flattering and the questions asked are fine, its not like they are asking for you to outline your business model or profit and loss for the last year like some do.

Where the problem lies is when you take the time to respond to their question you don’t even get a simple reply of “Thanks”. I can honestly say I would have about a 99% “No thankyou” rate. I would get about 80 to 100 emails like this a year. When I reply you always give the person the benefit of doubt and you hit the send button not expecting any return communication but it stays in the back of your mind that a simple return email expressing their appreciation of your time and knowledge was not given.

When you do this gig full time you are always busy designing new publishing ventures, marketing yourself, processing orders, processing new images and for myself working on new tutorials, that kind of thing. Answering emails not directly related to your income is a luxury during the day.

For me now it will be a case of hitting the delete button to emails like this or pasting a simple paragraph stating why I haven’t answered their questions directing them to Rubbing Pixels. This was why I use to sell a tutorial outlining the gear I have as I got sick of giving it away for free with no gratitude. Yep it is a shame when photographers like myself wont answer emails like this anymore but time is precious, information is valuable and a simple action of hitting reply typing the words, “Thanks” and then hitting send is obviously too hard to do. So why bother when you have better things to do and they can go and figure it all out for themselves. Maybe with the spare time they save from typing “Thanks”.

26 thoughts on “Is it an information Hit and Run

  1. hmm that must really get annoying, i think i have sent some stupid email to you once before… i was reading an article in better photography mag just yesterday and it was saying why so many photographers dont say anything to the people who ask them questions n stuff, its pretty much because they dont what the i quess your one of them few photographers that dont mine sharing ther knowledge to other photographers wanting to learn..

    i think the realy stubborn photographers dont realise that they were once beginner photographers wanting to learn of the pros n stuff, but now since there a pro they dont give a rats about the beginners …


    • Mitch when your on the outside looking in, I can see how photographers not sharing information might seam like they don’t give a rats about beginners when at a time they were one. But when your in the inside looking out it is a different story. With the birth of digital cameras the market is SUPER saturated with photographers. I have seen people on blogs asking basic questions on how a graduated ND works and then three months later they have a website selling their work calling them selves the next rising Australian Landscape photographer who’s work is collected internationally. Nana in the UK doesn’t count. !

      To make a living from landscapes you don’t have to be good you just have to get your work out there. Unfortunately to the unknowing public they will buy crap work over something far more professional even if it is at the same price.

      I would say most landscape photographers these days do it as a part time gig (its not to say they don’t do it well) but any sales is a bonus that they can spend on what ever they want, which was what I use to do when it was part time for me. But when your sales pay your home loan, food and general family living expenses it is a different story.

      So at the end of the day a photographer is going to ask themselves why share your knowledge for free in a random email from someone who you don’t even know, that will never be a customer and who in the very near future could have a competitive website regardless of quality. I can see why they don’t share information and I can totally understand why my emails as a beginner where never answered.

      • hmm i see were you coming from…i think its just gonna get harder and harder to get you name out there when there is so many “wanna be” landscape photographers out there trying to do the same thing!..when ken duncan started taking photos way back he used to go door knocking to try and sell his prints!, thats some dedication there haha…

        most question that come to my head can be found on the net anyways so i just google stuff now lol

        cheers mate

  2. Matt, I think it really is a case of plain old bad manners these days (doesn’t that make me sound so old lol).

    I have drilled good manners into my kids, and I am constanly being told by people how polite they are, it seems strange that people should comment, but, a teacher from their school told me that good manners are so rare these days that she feels compelled to congratulate parents of children who have them.

    Its too bad that so many of us feel so little gratitude from people that we no longer feel like sharing.

  3. I can happily say im in the 1% of people who replied and said thanks whenever you answered one of my emails 🙂 but i also am one of your customers on rubbing pixels 🙂

  4. Matt,

    An interesting conundrum you find yourself in – and it’s not just you, I am with Jocelyn, it’s a 2010 problem, which I suspect will be worse in 2015, and worse still as the years progress.

    The internet has given you a following, but also made you more accessible.

    Me? Interesting – I have as much time as anyone else in a 24×7 week. I have not (yet) paid you any money, however have followed your blog over and above the other photographers that I have bookmarked in my browser. Where I do spend my time on your good self is to post comments – something I choose not to do to anyone else. And yep, when I upgrade my gear, you will get my dosh for a 1-2-1 day course.

    So I’m with you – run your business wisely, guard your secrets appropriately and make people pay for your time, products and knowledge.

    Christian also had web-overload going back a while.

    and a heartfelt THANKS for all the wonderful images.

    • Thanks Barney and your welcome. Your comments on the blog are appreciated as despite the blogs traffic it is nice to get actual written feedback / comments on posts.

  5. Hi Matt,

    I just want to say I completely agree with you. Your time is valuable and people should compensate you for it, weather that is actually paying for an existing tutorial or a simple and polite thank you in acknowledgment of your time spent helping them.

    But like you say, every clown who can stump up the funds for a DSLR has aspirations of being the next Ken Duncan or Peter Lik, the staggering thing to me is that they have the expectation that working professionals like yourself are there to help mentor them free of charge. I would also agree with Jocelyn about manners in general but think that this issue is largely caused by one of the few unfortunate side effects of the rise of the internet and the democratisation of information. It is the expectation that ALL information, and the output of peoples personal or professional creativity should be given away for free. For an example of this pervasive mentality ask the average 14 year old kid how much of the music on their computer/mp3 player is actually paid for. They usually express confusion and contempt at the very concept.

    When I was interested in learning more about photography and particularly post production, I had no problem whatsoever with paying for your tutorials pack which has since evolved into the Rubbing Pixels site. To be honest I saw it as a much cheaper and more convenient way to learn post production techniques than to go and do a Photoshop course as well as the content being more focused on the landscape issues I was interested in and not the usual fluff in standard courses. Additionally I was grateful to you for providing your considerable experience via these tutorials for a very reasonable price. I searched high and low and found very few similar tutorials in existence.

    So I personally would like to say thanks on behalf of all the people who have purchased your tutorials and the silent majority who read your blog, appreciate your work and don’t feel compelled to bug you with additional questions. At least some of us appreciate that your time is valuable and that you do not exist simply to be our unpaid, personal photography mentor.

    • Cheers Steve, I have had quite a few comments on other forums where people have been very passionate about how all my tutorials should be free and open source. When it comes to photography people have no problem buying an expensive lens or camera but when it comes to learning how to use it or edit their work they expect it for free. Frustrating how little value they place on knowledge in this field. But I do find the more vocal the person on how it should be free the worse their work is.

      I’m glad you have gotten a lot out of my tutorials. It’s great to hear.

      • Knowledge is far more valuable than camera gear and rubbing pixels would have to be the best value around. A hundred bucks for a year of tutorials from a pro, doesn’t get any better than that !!

  6. I can’t think of 1 good reason why you should help people for free. You are perfectly entitled to make a living from your knowledge and as far as I’m concerned my membership to Rubbing Pixels is the best value for money photography related purchase I’ve ever made.

    • Thanks Michael. I don’t mind helping people out for free (of course it is always subject to the question being asked). I just wont be doing it when people randomly email me after a google search and I don’t know who they are.

      Glad you are enjoying the Rubbing Pixels site. I have received a ton of positive feedback regarding it.

  7. I totally agree with you as I find myself in the same situation, I’ve been emailed for location tips, not thanked and then I’ve seen photos from the same spot for sale next to mine in galleries. It’s a free world and I welcome competion but sometimes it’s just a case of plain bad manners! I’m proud to say I’ve bought a couple of your tutorials myself and as a professional coming from a 6×17 film background, they are extremely good value and have helped me stitching panoramics.

  8. I can concur with the lack of gratitude with public requests, particularly from school kids and their projects etc. I take some time to answer their questions and get no ‘thank you’ in return, so can certainly understand your stance on that point.

    As one the of wannabe professionals with a website for quite a few years now, including some stock images on your site a while back, I am personally finding it more difficult so sell images as you eluded to in your opening remarks where everyone is starting up a .com and selling their own shi%.

    These, I believe in part come from greater awareness and access/affordiblity of equipment but also from almost every professional selling their processing ideas/ tips/tutorials/courses/tours etc on how to take and process a better image. Of course I’m not begrudging that you sell these as it is a legit income stream and many hours of effort gone into and if you can make a quid then I say good luck to you, but I feel that it has created a vicious circle.

    • Andrew I think it is a very common practice for people to email other landscape photographers in the industry and no to say thanks in return.

      I know where your coming from with these .com’s popping up everywhere. 10 years ago it was me. But at the end of the day what is the quality like and the persons drive to sell. I think a lot of these business will only ever stay online or maybe at the markets on a $50 a day table. But would they support or take the risk on a six month lease at $2500 a week. Just because you got a camera dosen’t mean you start a business. Or does it ??

      Competition is a healthy thing and if one of my courses or tutorials helps someone out and they create a better photo because of it then that’s great. But if that same person gets better and creates a competitive business to mine, I know from experience that a lot more has gone into getting to that level than just doing my course and watching my tutorials.

  9. Steve you said it the best mate!!!

    The only times I speak to Matt is to provide him with feedback and never would I bother him with any questions as I think it is showing a lack of respect for his time. For that I have Rubbing Pixels which with the progress that Matt is making will answer just about any question anyone has all for a measly amount of money when you consider the time and effort Matt has put into it! Matt you have done so much and continue to do so for the Australian Landscape Photographic Community – more than anyone else I know!

    I suggest that you prepare a template email that you use every time to respond to any question saying something like “thanks for your email… Rubbing Pixels will be able to help you…”

    Hell even when freinds ask me questions these days I tell them to go to Rubbing Pixels rather than telling them myself… Besides you explain it a lot better than I ever would plus it helps keep the site going and continue to help me develop my skills.

    Thanks for providing such a fantastic resource Matt!

    • Thanks Ric, those are very kind words. I remember how hard it was starting out with very little information around or scattered all over the net. So I am proud to have created a place that landscape photographers can come to and find and have most of their questions answered. Your feedback has been fantastic over the development of the Rubbing Pixels site before it launched with me throwing a few ideas at you and your detailed feedback was more than what I expected. I should have you on the pay roll 🙂

  10. Thanks for such an exciting post Matt. The way I see it…if you’ve got time to post an entry like this, you’ve got time.

    I have over 6,400 subscribers on YouTube and still find time to personally respond to every question & relevant comment that comes my way. A little effort goes a long way sometimes…a lot farther than a negative attitude will anyway. But to each his own.

    Everyone has to start somewhere. Don’t forget that was you once.

    Normally I don’t mind your email posts because you do have some pretty nice pictures from time to time. But in this case it actually irritated me to the point of feeling compelled to comment, and unsubscribe. Best of luck to you.

    • Dave I do this gig full time, I also have three kids under the age of two. If you have the spare time to answer questions without anyone showing you appreciation for your time and knowledge then great for you. But my time is better spent else where working on my business even adding and replying to comments on this blog (I answer a ton of questions on my blog), other than helping those who email me from a random google search and don’t show any gratitude.

      What I don’t get is sure express your views, thats what blog posts like this are all about. But do it in a mature way, why throw in the last paragraph of your comment and make it personal and burn your bridges with another local photographer in the same field. Doesn’t make any sense to me.

  11. Dave, you are in the minority here, do the math. Dave, it’s people like mat who spend the time to increase awareness of landscape photography, provide excellent products and increase the potential market for not only himself, but other photographers as well. To constantly get used by people which is what it is, is very wearing, and in the end soul destroying.

    Nobody is “entitled” to free advice, so say thanks when you get it. Thats all matt is saying. So run along, dave and post a free hug video to your 6400 faithful, I bet they are on the edge of their seats.

    • Thanks for the support Mike… whats interesting about Dave is in January this year he emailed me telling how much he loved my work and it was an inspiration to him and he wanted to have coffee with me so he could “Pick my brain”. When I politely declined I guess my usefulness to him ran out and now my inspirational work is now “some nice images from time to time”.

      Funny how people change their tune when they cant suck you dry for free and you become an expendable contact.

  12. Maybe Dave could subscribe to your tutorial website, that’s a great way to pick your brain and keep on picking it! By the way, do you have any courses planned for the month of August? I hope to be in Sydney for a few weeks then.

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