This has been an interesting week for me–both positive and negative. I wanted to end this week of blogging by writing about a disconcerting incident that raises some basic questions about how we treat each other.

I put a query out on FB last week looking for photo projects about health issues in NYC. I had been wondering what people were shooting in NY, since I had seen health-related stories in other places. The curiosity came out of a talk I had with someone. I’ve seen some personal projects, but I was curious about the larger health issues that affect so many people here. I’ve also been wondering why photographers often think they need to go somewhere else to shoot documentary projects, instead of finding them in their own back yard.

One page on FB immediately started asking me what I was going to pay, what kind of license this was for, etc. I kept saying I was just asking, but the thread took on a life of its own, which is so common on FB.  After a while of trying to tell people I was just curious, I deleted the post. However, that didn’t stop people from attacking me as being just another person trying to rip off photographers and get work for free.

It’s reasonable to have believed I was among people who know and respect me, since it is an invite-only page. Most of my time is spent advocating for and helping photographers. But the amount of anger, paranoia and bitterness I encountered really threw me for a loop. It’s too bad that there are photographers who are so angry that they lash out, assuming that everyone has bad intentions.

I no longer care to engage on this, but I am left with this: If people can’t ask questions of photographers anymore without being accused of working against them, and if others are jumping on to condemn the questioner, where are we at?  Why would anyone want to work with people who are so negative and defensive?

We need to remember to treat everyone with respect. Besides, you really can’t afford to alienate people in this industry if you expect to work in it.