Tuesday, September 29, 2009

How to get Work.

This entry and more like it were inspired by Peter Lombardi. Peter attended and as far as I know graduated Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, CA. Peter got a better education than me, in that he actually attended and completed more classes. I didn't graduate, but that's a blog for another day. He's managed to find himself assisting in Los Angeles, where as I've heard through the grapevine, so many photographers get caught. The money's good, you're around creativity and you're learning. However you can get worn out from 14 hour days and forget that you're busy building someones photography career. (Hint: Its not yours.)


For some silly reason I think (myself included at some point in the past) that individuals pursuing a career in photography or design, think that the work fairy just appears one day or that there is some well kept secret. (another HINT: there isn't a work fairy or a big secret)

To make it in the photography/design freelance world, in my experience thus far, mostly you just have to be persistent, relentless, and CONSISTENT with everything you do pertaining to where you want to go with your photography. I realize that was a bit of a run-on sentence, but I really just wanted to get my point across to you. Maybe you have a great little portfolio, but you haven't shot/designed anything in awhile. Or at least you haven't posted anything in a while. If you have a job right now, this is going to require 2-3 hours PER NIGHT of your time after work... for potentially 2-3 years before things really start rolling. Even then, there are no guarantees. If you know you don't suck, then its time to fly. No offense but there are some dreamers out there, that really just aren't that good.

You can be the a great photographer and not know how to market yourself and waste talent. There is nothing worse than wasted talent. You can be a snapshot artist but a great business man/woman and make millions.

You need to be right between the two. Do NOT WASTE YOUR TALENT. You have it, you enjoy it, and if you're not working at it EVERY day then you're wasting it. And I don't mean shooting everyday (shoot often of course) I mean, searching for ways to be SEEN.


  • If you don't have a current business card this is the most important. You should be giving out at least 2 cards a day at EVERY opportunity that you see where your talents can be used. How many times have you been asked for a card and didn't have one?
  • Create a blog. (pimp the shit out of it on every social networking site) Creatives lately I've heard are looking to see how you see, the blog is the new website 2.0. Moreover you're inspiring others to create new work, its a great way to give back and its great creative karma. Artists are slightly narcissistic. We want some recognition. If you're an "artist" and you choose hold on to your art, and you want to make a living doing it, you have to be willing showcase it.
  • Update your website, you know it needs to be done. Don't have more than one photo from a shoot. Ask for another qualified person's opinion. Your Aunty doesn't count. She loves all your shit.
  • Set up a new shoot or three. Once you have one, it starts to get addicting to update with new images. Put the production images or anything like that in your blog. Since we're in a "recession" you have a ton of time to do self promo/personal work. PDN's (Photo District News) when questioning professionals, as to what they were doing in the "recession", their answer was spending time streamlining portfolios, their look, creating a blog, and shooting tons of personal work.
  • Brand yourself. This is probably most important and should be in the number one spot. But it comes with time. Your website should match your blog, should match your business card should match EVERYTHING that goes out of your office. Down to the label on the DVD of images you give to a client. You're a professional, act accordingly. Even the Golden Arches took years and years to serve 90 billion hamburgers.
  • Start using "normal" job money and invest it in your photography/design company. Skip the new pair of shoes and create a promo card and send it out. Pay for a user friendly up datable website like Livebooks or Sitewelder.
  • Utilize Professional Photography Profile websites. These are KEY. Even if you're not getting work from them, you're still putting it out there. There is a list below.
  • Craigslist. This is a necessary evil. There are so many people scrambling for the crumbs of work on this site. But really, I've wrangled in a few really nice jobs from it, as well as some great personal work.
  • For your first logo save some money and come up with some designs yourself that work for you. They don't have to be perfect right away. Your brand and logo, everything for that matter, evolves into itself. My logo now is not the same as it was 4 years ago. It is the one I feel most comfortable with though.
  • Last and not least is LET NOTHING STAND IN YOUR WAY. Nothing. If you have a partner that does not support what you do, they're fired. Student loans? Take care of them later when you're making more money, you're never going to pay them off anyway. Parents, dogs, cats, rats, pelicans, NOTHING. KIDS! Oh man this is the biggest excuse for people getting a grinding job and not pursuing a creative career. Don't you want to inspire your children to be what they want in life?? Kids are part of your life, don't use them as an excuse, put a picture of them by your desk and use them to inspire you! You are on a mission to become the best photographer/artist you can be. Perhaps you've paid a lot for an education pertaining to the field you wish to be in. It WILL NOT just come to you. You are essentially trying to become a ROCKSTAR, if I had a dime for every person that said it was impossible I would not have a career in photography, I'd have a career in money management.
You need to think, eat, sleep, breathe creativity in the beginning. Only now after 4-5 years of REALLY wanting to become a photographer have I been able to rest just a little bit. Metaphorically speaking, I have bigger hills I want to climb, my hill might not be as steep, but my pack is SO much heavier. The bigger my company gets and I want it to be, the bigger my costs get. That is just the nature of the beast. Once you tame the beast just a bit, its beyond a feeling of bliss, but the beast gets pissed you have to get stronger or beat. YOU WILL NOT BE BEAT.

The more profiles you have online, and the more places you are involved with, Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, Websites, the easier it is for the Googles, Yahoos, Bings, Leapfishes and other search engines to find you. Here's a couple that at reasonable in cost, but if you want to play with the big dogs then you have to pay. I'm not sure, but I'm almost positive there isn't any site that's FREE and you're going to get QUALITY work from. There may be some, but believe me, Saatchi and Saatchi creatives are not looking there for you.

Profile sites, these sites get thousands of hits a day looking for people like you:

Companies that have databases of creatives looking for you:

A great freelance site I haven't been on in a while but is great:

I know its not much but I feel good just getting this out there. Writing this has been as therapeutic for me as I hope it has been for you to read it.

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