Why Tea Break Tog Might NOT Be For You
In this episode I talk about who is NOT a good fit for Tea Break Tog. The best online photography communities don’t happen by accident. There is a secret to getting the most out of an online group and I talk about that too! It’s all in the podcast (and it is much better to listen to my ramblings than read them I promise…)
I have had lots of emails and messages wondering where the podcasts have been recently and even someone telling me they have had withdrawal symptoms! I know and I am sorry! There is a reason for the lack of podcasts and the reason is that I have been crazily planning the future of Tea Break Tog and formulating a plan for the next 12 months. I have so much content for you guys and I am so desperate to share it all with you!
I have also been putting together an email course which is now finished and up and running.
The email course is called ‘Auto to Manual in Ten Days’ and is basically ten days of emails and audio teaching the basics of getting into manual mode with your camera. If you have been following the podcast since the beginning then the content of these emails and audio will be familiar to you. However, you can’t beat a good refresher. BUT if you are just dipping in to Tea Break Tog for the first time or you have only listened to a podcast here and there then the course will be a GREAT way to take yourself from auto to manual mode quickly and easily.
The email course is completely FREE and you can subscribe to it by going to autotomanual.com.
I have also made two big decisions based on some feedback I have been getting from listeners. One is to make the episodes shorter and more focused. Some of the episodes are pretty crammed with info and I do agree that it will be more digestible if I break things down even further than I have been so far. It will also make it easier for you to find the exact episode you need when you have a very particular question.
This doesn’t mean there will be less content. There will just be more podcast episodes covering the content so there is nothing stopping you listening to a few at a time if that is your preference.
Another big decision is to get rid of the geek links. This came to me the other day when I was looking for an answer to a photography question that I had. I found so much information it was unbelievable. Honestly there was enough to keep me reading for 50 years. And the majority of the content I found was super geeky and technical. It was GREAT content but it was geeky content.
I realised that what I am trying to do here with Tea Break Tog is different. I am trying to give you the minimum amount of science and tech to make photography a bit more palatable to those of you whose brains just don’t work that way.
You are the people I want to help.
People like myself who can do with out all the science. And when you think about it like that the geek links just don’t make sense.
There are a zillion and one photography sites out there for you if you ever want to really geek out from time to time. And you will want to. There will be times that you do that. And that’s great! I find myself doing it more and more. You just won’t be able to do it here.
This also means that there are lots of learner photographers out there who will not be a good fit for this podcast and for the Tea Break Tog community. This might appear to be a negative statement but that couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s actually a very positive thing.
We can’t be all things to all people and we certainly can’t please everyone.
If you are highly technical and you love nothing more than to delve deep into the science of how lenses actually work or which camera has the best features then this podcast probably isn’t for you. You won’t get what you want from it. We will be avoiding the stuff that you truly want to know more about. The good news is that there are LOADS of other photography sites which will satisfy your need for tech talk. But here it is going to be kept simple and short.
That leads me to talk briefly about one of the reasons I started Tea Break Tog and why I wanted it to be kept free of all the super-techy talk. I have been a learner photographer for 8 years now and I am a member of countless groups and forums. Some of them have real and virtual aspects to them but most are just online.
I find that when I meet fellow photographers in person it is a seriously positive experience. I have made some fabulous friends over the years. In person everyone is kind, supportive, positive and willing to accept everyone regardless of ability. Unfortunately online is different isn’t it? A minority – and I do mean a minority – of people can be incredibly unpleasant online whilst hiding behind a computer screen. Almost on a daily basis I witness some poor learner post a photography question or an image to a group and alongside the constructive, friendly responses they get others which are so long-winded and technical that they seem as if the intention is to confuse. But much worse than that is the scorn and the ridicule that can come from a small minority of fellow photographers. Yes they are in the minority but they are a very noisy minority sometimes. And you know what it’s like;
Even if you had 10 positive, helpful responses and just one that was negative – which is the one you would think about all day?
We do cling to the negatives in life don’t we? It’s human nature.
I remember I posted a technical question relating to my new full frame camera to a group. Alongside some helpful responses there were a couple of members who just seemed really angry that I didn’t understand this feature and poured absolute scorn on my questions. I was told I was clearly just another ‘mum with a camera’ and that I was just ‘playing’.
I mean what’s wrong with being a mum playing with her camera???!!!
It was a long time before I posted anything anywhere again.
Now I am not saying that Tea Break Tog is a fluffy, ‘rainbows and butterflies’ kind of place. No way. There is plenty of substance and room for serious photography chat. But it is a place where there are no stupid questions. I think when people regard a question as stupid it just means that they have forgotten what it is like to learn something new. I want you to find us and breathe a sigh of relief that you can finally browse through information without feeling stupid and overwhelmed and that if you have a question you can ask it and the community will help you – with respect and without confusing you further.
If you are wondering about the community aspect of Tea Break Tog – at the moment it is a facebook group. And if you are not a member of it then why on earth not? It is a safe place for learners to post photographs, ask questions, request critique, share challenges and offer encouragement. There are photographers of all different abilities in there and those more advanced than you are there to encourage not judge. Remember they were once at your level too!
We are all at different stages of our journey and there is great value in having people in a group who are more advanced than you. It is so important that there are more experienced photographers involved in Tea Break Tog. You should never feel inferior because of that. You should just feel inspired and blessed that there are others you can learn from. But that only happens if those who are more advanced are respectful of the stage you are at.
So yes, advanced photographers are more than welcome. In fact we need them there. But the only advanced photographers who will ever be welcome in Tea Break Tog are those who are willing to help and teach and support and probably most important of all, ENCOURAGE others on their journey. That is what it is all about for me and I hope that resonates with you too.
Those who get the most out of the community are those who engage.
I will tell you a story relating to this. And the story is not unique. It happens all the time. I had one of our community members send me a private message recently saying that they felt a bit disgruntled with the group and were thinking about leaving. He went on to say that he was not getting much feedback on the images he was posting. He could see that other images got loads more ‘likes’ and comments than his did and he felt a bit put out by that. He felt ‘left out’.
Now I can completely understand that. It is human nature to want a bit of recognition and acceptance and some praise will always be nice. When we don’t get anything back we feel really quite dejected. So I looked into it – but I knew before I did what I would find out.
When I looked through the group feed I could see that he just wasn’t present unless he was posting one of his own images. He wasn’t commenting on anyone’s images. He wasn’t even clicking that all-important ‘like’ button (come on we know it matters even if it shouldn’t!). He never shared any useful articles or information and never engaged in any of the conversation threads whatsoever.
Isn’t it funny that although he gave nothing to anyone in that group – he expected others to give to him?
Those who will get the absolute most out of the Tea Break Tog community and indeed any community, let’s face it, are those who are willing to give before the receive and actually to give more than they receive too. When you do that magic things start to happen.
Now there are those who will say;
‘But I don’t have the confidence to take part.’
‘But I don’t have enough experience to offer critique or opinions.’
All nonsense! It doesn’t take confidence or experience to tell someone you love the image they have posted and to tell them why. It doesn’t take confidence or experience to offer someone some encouragement with a challenge they are having – even if you don’t have the answers for them. It doesn’t take confidence or experience to ask someone a question about an image they shared. It doesn’t take confidence or experience to congratulate someone on reaching a new stage in their photography. The list goes on guys!
Give before you receive and give more than you receive. You will soon find that you are part of a really special community and that is a wonderful feeling!
So there you have it – that’s my sermon for the day all sorted. But really I just wanted to share all of this with you. Share the thoughts that have been in my head and the direction that things are going in.
I would really love to hear from you on twitter or facebook about this. Hit me up at @TeaBreakTog and let me know your thoughts on being part of a photography community and what qualities you think the best photography communities have. I would love to hear from you there and will make sure I reply to you all.
So next episode we get back to learning photography and you are going to learn about focal length. What does it mean and what difference does it make to your images.
I hope you will join me for that but even more than that I hope you will join the community on facebook and we can get to know each other there.
See you next time…