"I've spent 3 years supporting him. Every photo he posts I like and comment on and share with other people. I truly believe in his work, but the couple times I messaged him about a question around his work or advice, I never got a response."
It's easy to do. As you become more successful in this industry, you get preoccupied with your next photo idea, job or social media post.
You might have 100k followers, or 500k followers, but no matter where you're at, you can be the kind of person that is grateful towards the people who helped put you in your position of success OR you can be the dick.
You can be the kind of person who takes the time to respond-
the kind of person that remembers the feeling of wishing you had someone to give you an answer-
or you can make excuses like "I don't have time to respond to every person that messages me- if they have a question, they can Google it."
But if you choose the latter, just don't let me hear you complain when work slows down, or that you aren't getting noticed like you once were, or that the photographer responding and connecting with the people is "just getting lucky" when her following grows.
The world has changed. Information on photography used to be much like that of a good magic trick-and everyone knows a magician never reveals his secrets.
But as time wore on, big-name photographers started realizing that there was money to be made in the education of photography as well as the feeling of community that it brought with it. When they shared their processes and answered questions and helped instruct the next generation, their followers and supporters became more loyal and multiplied quickly. More jobs came their way. Outside of just being a good person, helping others grow is also shamelessly self serving and acceptable.
In the end, it doesn't really make sense to be the jerk who never responds and is always too busy.
You are just hurting your business as well as the perception of your character.
Those of you out there that actually care about others can attest-making time to connect with your audience is one of the single quickest ways to advance your career and feel good about it in the process.
So next time a green photographer needs a couple moments of your time, throw a rope down. You'll be all the better for it.