I recently posted a poll on Twitter asking "What would you need to do to improve your photography" and a good number of discussions and private messages came out about engaging, sharing and opening dialogs with photographic peers - and I would add those we look up to as potential mentors.
Though our community is a very vocal and encouraging one, I feel we just don't share enough with each other to encourage growth in others. We don't give (or ask for) enough constructive feedback or use peers enough to bounce ideas and to help each other grow and improve our own bodies of work. We need to reach out to each other; to those doing the work we aspire to do or who can help us reach our potential.
I have been lucky talking with a few close friends online daily (the Against the Grain co-hosts) and have really begun to expand my limits because of these talks. We share current bodies of work and ask for feedback, tips and so on. A lot of this has begun to make its way to our podcast, but I would love to see these kinds of discussions make their way out into the community: one-on-one talks with peers and so forth.
Topics like gear choice, composition, exposure, lab vs self developing, image critique, editing film and digital work and so on should be discussed more between us, though I am the first to admit that asking a peer, or to a greater extent, someone you admire is sometimes the hardest part. Admitting you want help, thinking they won't reply or that you're not worthy to ask can be a huge hurdle. I've been surprised at who was quick to reply over the years. I truly believe the road needs to be open for our growth, so if you have questions and are looking for help, just ask them. It really can't hurt.
So, to encourage this move to openly asking, sharing and participating in these discussions, I want to invite you to talk with me over email or Twitter (or even fire-up a Hangout call). Let's see how we can continue to grow our photography and push our internally assigned limits.