Hey there girl.
So I get lots of questions on the blog and in email form about either how to make it OR about thinking about how to start trying to make it OR getting stuck trying to make it. A gentleman named Paul emailed me a very nice comprehensive email and I started to write a very nice comprehensive email back.
Then, as I was writing, I decided to turn it into a large 4 piece post on what I think are the four most important things you can do to become a professional photographer. They are (follow the links back at the parts appear):
Today will be about initiative #2, building a network. If you missed part #1 on assisting, click here. I will roll the last two initiatives in the following week . These pieces will be a bit all over the place but, hey, so am I. If you have specific followup questions, drop a line and I will answer them.
Repost this, too, if you want to share it. Liking it won’t get it too far. God, I wish I hadn’t gotten the like button tattooed on my lower back when I turned 18, big mistake.
This is what I have to say about building a network.
OK, so you’re assisting. Making money, and when your job is done you can leave it all behind. Or continue to work on your own shit later that night. But it’s also incredibly helpful to have a network of friends who are in the same position as you. A camaraderie/support/motivation/inspiration network. Dudes and girls who are also going through the struggles, the ups and downs, of trying to make it. People you can turn to when you have questions on how to get your foot in the door at a certain magazine, or how to price out something on an estimate when you’re on your own, or just sharing the work of photographers you love. These are people to bounce work, ideas, projects, great experiences, trainwrecks, and totally meta thoughts off of. People to help slingshot forward, cyclically, till all of you are where you want to be, or are collectively making your way there.
For me, the closest people in this group are
This is when you check out their work too, cause they are awesome.
Oh snap, did you see what I just did? I was a hypeman. I’m going to digress for a second, starting right now. In photography, there are roughly three camps: insular photographers who do their own thing and don’t outwardly interact (I’m cool with them, I respect that), photographers who hoard everything and consider everything to be proprietary (I don’t get them), and those like myself who are pretty much open-source, who love photography and having a network of peers and want so badly to see others succeed, cause it’s such a pleasure to see friends you love so much making rad, progressive, excellent work for great clients.
As an example, as Daniel and I have built up solid rapports with disparate clients over the years, there came a time last year where we spent like a month basically getting each other in with our respective client bases. I had been working for Dwell, Daniel’s work was a perfect fit, I introduced him to Amy Silberman (one of the raddest photo editors to have EVER roamed the planet), and soon Daniel was getting work through Amy. If you saw the home in South Carolina he shot for DWELL….. yeah it’s one of the best things I’ve seen editorially last year. Daniel’s done the same for me as well, and so has Adam… Adam brought me into Travel + Leisure, a title I’d never been able to get a cold meeting at…. within a year I’d shot two features for them.
I also recently gave Joao almost all my NYC ad agency contacts, happily. You want to know why? Cause he’s rad and I love his work and he’s got this sexy Peruvian accent thing going that makes me weak in the knees. But seriously, I do it cause I want to. I really don’t know any other way. How can you not want to help your friends? I want to see my friends succeed, and honestly, all of these things come back around. You can get on the bandwagon or not, but I assure you, you’ve got a longer distance to walk if you go your own way.
Have some fun, make some friends, get to know some people, meld this career together with your life. So many of these photographers I speak of have turned into some of my closest friends, in part because we all can “get” each other so quickly and so well, in part because we’re all going through the same life pursuit, and in part because I feel like I can really get to know someone by looking at their work.
Bottom line: get yourself a network, keeps yourself happy, connected, stoked, enthusiastic about the photographic company you keep, and helps everyone move ahead.