I feel as though I need to welcome myself back into the blogging world – it’s been 5 months too long! I always feel there isn’t really a lot to ‘blog’ about as a photographer, unless you’re one of those Instagram-famous people who get flown around the world to document a boutique experience in the Maldives (I for one get excited about climbing onto a Jet2 plane and landing somewhere in Europe for 2 weeks a year!). Since starting a full time job, I haven’t given this blog a second thought so Christmas feels like the time to knuckle down, get my photographer head screwed back on and write about something useful. This blog post is on the topic of using connections and networking to your advantage - very exciting, I know!
To start things off, one tip I’ve been told constantly throughout my (short) photographic career is that making connections and networking with others is like gold dust to us freelancers. Any opportunity given or email shared must be used to our advantage, as that could be a foot in the door towards the next job. Until recently, I turned down 80% of opportunities given to me, as they weren’t what I personally wanted to do and I don’t regret that choice at all. At the age of 21, I felt as though I was in the position to be able to cherry-pick my jobs whilst I didn’t have too many responsibilities in life and I was able to focus on building my portfolio with images I truly loved and created. I am now a whole year older (!!) and have started to broaden my horizon and see what other opportunities are out there in the big wide world.
My tutor at university always told us we had to call people instead of email because 99% of the time we wouldn’t get a response. I of course ignored him and continued to email, as I was terrified of calling and got word vomit once they answered. But, in the end, my tutor got me into his office, dialled the number of a photographer I wanted to email and put the phone to my ear (I still hate him for it!). However, through that one hideous and terrifying call, I have somehow come out of my awkward and nervous shell and have found the confidence to pick up the phone and speak directly to people, rather than hide behind Gmail - it truly is a game changer!
Another great networking tool I’ve started to really use is Instagram. Don’t get me wrong, I am always on Instagram posting on my personal account, but I never really bothered about a business profile. I made one at the beginning of my second year at Uni and posted pictures here and there, never really thinking or caring about my ‘brand identity’ I was putting out there. It wasn’t until around March 2018 that I deleted everything and started again with a fresh perspective and clear idea about what I wanted to achieve through social media. Through this, I have made connections and have been in contact with loads of my favourite photographers and have even started to get some work from people following me and like what I post.
One last hugely useful and the most obvious form of networking out there are business cards. I bought my first batch of business cards just before I graduated last July and I’ve only just got through them (I am a professional business woman I swear). I was in the mind frame that I didn’t want to hand them out willy-nilly and waste them, but then I realised that from the 100 you hand out, that 1 person who contacts you could be the reason behind your next job and the one after that. Any networking event or shoot you go to, always make sure you have a fresh pack ready to hand out to anyone you have a 1 minute, 2 minute or 5 minute conversation with, so they know and remember who you are – you never know what they could offer you in the future!