Recently I gave a presentation alongside a fellow photographer and a fantastic colleague of mine. This individual and I have known each other for several years, have worked side by side, and have even referred clients back and forth to each other. When either of us has a question related to how we shoot; whether something looks good or not; how to handle tough business situations – we pick up the phone and call each other. And yet at the same time we target many of the same clients.

I got to thinking that this is not the standard definition of “competition.”

We don’t fight tooth and nail against one another. We don’t try to out bid each other on projects. We don’t trash talk the other’s work just to make sure we get an extra few dollars in our pocket today (regardless of what may happen down the road). Instead we help each other out. We encourage each other to be successful, to work harder, and to do better work.

Think for a moment about the word “competition.” The word itself has some pretty strong negative connotations. One definition I found online said that it means when two or more parties strive for a goal that cannot be shared.

My argument is that this definition and the mentality around competition could not be further from the truth.

When treated in the right way, competition can drive innovation, it can enhance creativity, it can lead to new ways to do old things, and it can develop more demand. And that is the key. Competition can lead to a greater demand.

Doesn’t really matter what specific business you are in, whether you work as a talent, an actor, a fellow photographer, or you sell giant pretzels at sporting events. The more a community of professionals can support one other and share best practices; the better outlook that industry will have as a whole.