SME-A subject matter expert is an individual with a deep understanding of a particular job, process, department, function, technology, machine, material or type of equipment.
Through the ages, knowledge transfer has played a major role in how society has grown. Monks transferring the bible from stories to written words. In the middle ages children would be sent to work as apprentices in trades to learn, practice and finally go out on their own. As time moved on apprenticeship were replace by schools, university, Grandparents, even Google and ZOOM. But the principal is the same, to transfer as much knowledge as possible and to mentor the next generation.
So why do I feel strongly about passing on what I have learned? As I have grown in photography, I have been fortunate enough to have people and organizations around me that were more experienced and were willing to share what they have learned with me. These SME’s were more than willing to explain not only the basics of both capturing an image, but also how to post process the photos. Now there were those very few who did not want share as they were afraid I would steal their techniques, but with a little help from Google and YouTube I was able to figure it out. I would not be where I am today without their help.
So why NOW should we as Photographer pass on what we learned? If there was one good thing to come out of the Covid crisis is that people have been taking time to learn new skills or improving the skill they have. In a report from LinkedIn comparing the number of people who watched LinkedIn learning, hours increased from 560,000 hours in January to 1.7 million in April. 40% of people surveyed reported that they improved their cooking skills in 2020. KelbyOne, a photography site that offers training on-line held 4 on-line conference that drew over 1000 photographers to learn from some of the world’s best photographers. The digital age has afforded everybody opportunity to learn from experts at little or no cost.
So How does one pass on this knowledge? Well this Blog is one way to do that. Blogger by Google is free and easy to set up. Depending on your experience you can produce YouTube videos. From what I have seen the quality of training goes from so-so to very very good. In fact, as I travel down the road to Water Drop and Stop action photography, I have learned everything from YouTube videos. You could also teach a Continue Education class at your local High School or even Senior Center. There is no age limit to taking pictures and everyone from teens to Betty White are willing to learn new skill. You could also just offer assistance to people as you go about taking pictures when they ask how you do this or that. Let face it, as I said above there have been photographer who do not want to share as they don’t want the competition to steal their work. They forget that a photo is a moment in time and they may learn their technique, they will never get the same shot. Unless we as photographers train other as to what a good picture is, quality will decrease, people expectation as to what a great picture is will decrease, and all the effort you put into that ‘Special Talent” will be lost. Why should people buy your pictures when what they shoot, in their minds, is just as good?
As photographers we can continue to complain about the poor quality photos today, or we can do something about it. The “Covid Learning Effect” as I call it will not go away. People will be taking these newly learned skills into the new normal and the more we can show and train them what great photography is the better we all will be. So while I will always be questioned on why I share my settings, techniques, and such with possible competition, I will not stop. The better my competition get will drive me to get better. Besides if they don’t get the information from me, they will go someplace else.