A smart pro photographer is interested and aware of their competitors, but not overly preoccupied. When you started your photography business, you put a lot of work and effort into it, so it’s easy to convince yourself that while business is slower than usual, the grass must be greener on the other side of the fence, even to the point of peeking over to see what your competitor’s next move is.
That’s where market research comes in. It’s a bit less “stalker-like” and can help you understand what other pro photographers are doing better and how to get ahead. By doing market research on your competitors, you can decide how to provide a superior product or service.
Sometimes new ideas are sparked when you notice a problem that a competitor faces and try to find a good solution yourself. You hear stories in this industry, especially when things go awry. Those stories are a great way to think about how you would handle similar situations and make sure you have back up plans.
Competitors can also be an asset. You might just be a one-man team and need a second shooter for a larger event, or someone to step in if you got sick and couldn’t shoot an event. Meeting other pro photographers in the area is a great idea. Some will even share their thoughts on great vendors to use or even who not to use.
In the end, when it comes to your competition, make friends not enemies. You are both striving for the same success and can benefit from a great friendship, even if it’s just to throw a few creative ideas around.