Guest Post by Nana Annan
“Nobody wants to be my friend”. Several years ago my daughter whispered these words to me on her second day of school in the first grade, and it broke my heart. She hadn’t attended kindergarten at this new school, so she missed out on forming those crucial relationships that first year. Don’t feel sorry for her though, she’s in the 8th grade now and is Ms. Social Butterfly, but that took work on the entire family’s part.
Like many professional groups, photographers can be cliquish. When I see newer photographers struggle to join the clique, it similarly disappoints me. There are millions of weddings each year, around the world, at all different levels. The next photographer is not your competition; you are. Elevating the craft helps us all so we should embrace newbies and teach them the “right” ways. Having said that, if you are newer to photography or the business of photography, you have to also be willing to do the work. Don’t put out a post on social media announcing “I’m here!” and sit back expecting everyone to flock to you. It doesn’t work that way.
Here are a few pointers to help you in the photographer’s playground:
1) Clean up your Instagram accounts – these days, it is the FIRST place everyone goes to see how serious you are about your craft. Don’t put things there that are not representative of your brand or the brand you aspire to be. Do I want to invest time working with someone who has a poorly curated IG? Not even for money.
2) If you don’t have content – CREATE IT. Put on a styled or test shoot. It doesn’t have to be lavish, but it should be meaningful and representative of the category and style of photography you are drawn to. Be ready to pay for the production costs of the vendors who help you.
3) Educate yourself! Attend a few seminars/retreats and make some connections! Learn and network all at once. Getting to know your fellow photographers and affiliated vendors makes it easier to call upon them to help you when you need it and to get work. Be organic and authentic with your relationships though. No one wants to be harassed because of what they can give you!
4) REACH OUT! Don’t sit in the corner stewing because no one wants to be your friend. Ask if someone you admire would be willing to mentor you.
5) Do your best work and be open to the truth – This can be hard because sometimes it’s hard to know what is “best work.” Ask a friend who is not afraid to tell you the truth. Some work should not be posted unless that is truly your best work and you want that to represent you.
If you are an established photographer, be kind. Help a newbie out. You were once that person and also, we are a long way from kindergarten and first grade!
About the author:
Nana is a wedding photographer based in NJ and serves as the COO of one of the oldest non-profit youth development agencies in New York City. She is proud of what she considers to be her “nerd credentials” and has a B.Sc. in Computer Science from Spelman College and J.D. from Boston University, but her true superpower is keeping up with her two children and husband!