I’ve heard the phrase in many different creative social groups, community over competition. The meaning and concept of it is wonderful, as a mutual support system for likeminded creative artists. I suppose in its correct context, it could be a utopian society for artists. Suppose this discussion is targeted towards photographers, I will use that reference going forward. But, you can fill in the blanks with whatever art genre you choose. The whole idea is to be a resource for one another, and support each other without “competitor” being a thought. That sounds wonderful, and I love it when it works. I find such an arrangement works best in small groups of professionals.
What I love about community over competition-
Sharing information and tips about the craft, technical, business and marketing, etc. is the whole idea. There’s no thought of holding back because technically, they’re “competitors” Well, I also suppose it depends on how many are in the same market, or scattered about. What one needs to learn, another knows, and down the road, it comes back around. I think it works best, even with varying levels of skill and knowledge, when people give as much or more than what they take. Think of it as a joint bank account. In the end, it makes the industry better and stronger. When used correctly.
It’s naive to think of it as an absolute-
There are always those who throw the community over competition term around in certain situations, which is passive aggressive at best. Those same people ask locations from others who explored manually themselves, and maybe don’t want to risk being banned from it are a prime example. Especially if they’re from out of town poaching local gigs. It’s different if that person has contributed, but usually not. How many times have we seen Instagram follow exchanges, where some unfollow immediately after just to fool the algorithm. Which does nothing. Attitude plays a big part in it. There are always those too stubborn or fragile to accept any criticism, but use “community over competition” as an excuse for their petulant behavior. There’s no room for growth with that mindset, nor can they be an asset to others. Just take, selectively.
I’m happy to share my knowledge with a group, as even local photographers, I don’t truly see as competition because we are very different from one another. I have good friends who are also photographers, no problem with that. On days I’m booked, I can refer them, and vice versa. I do think it’s ok to be selective who I help. If someone is over-sensitive or defiant, there’s no point wasting my time, and is not a worthy member of the “community” At least for me. There are also things I will need to call on community for, and because I’ve contributed, I reap the benefits too. I just have no time for those who are selfish and obstinate. Benefit of the doubt is given, but trust is earned.