Many fields are full of competition… wanting to safe guard trade secrets and beat out the next person. Photography unfortunately seems to be a lot like this. Of course there are some wonderful photographers out there who are open about their businesses, and their blogs are a wealth of inspiration and knowledge. But as far as the photographers down the block, you aren’t always guaranteed to get that supportive response.
Beginning my photography experience in college, I was lucky to have a much more supportive start. I was able to bounce ideas off of my classmates, take photography day trips to places like Palo Duro Canyon, and go out on a pretty evening and take headshots for each other.
Photo by Angel DelCueto
I have to admit I miss those days. It can be hard to build genuine relationships (especially the positive and supportive kind) with others in the industry, and I’ve found that for those of us who don’t run our businesses as our full-time position, it can be even harder. That being said, just because it is hard doesn’t mean we should quit trying to build those relationships. Here’s some thoughts on how to make it happen:
1. Make it beneficial – for BOTH of you. Just like with mentors, you want to make sure that you are helpful, encouraging, supportive, and enjoyable. All those things you’re looking for in friends in the industry – be them. Find ways to be helpful – whether that be loaning gear when needed, suggesting great local vendors to partner with, referring them when your calendar is booked, or being a listening ear/sounding board for them. Focus on giving just as much (if not more than) you are getting.
2. Be persistent. If at first you don’t succeed, try try again, right? I admit, it’s awkward to reach out to another photographer and feel like you’re trying to create a friendship out of thin air. But go for it. Take time to reach out in a genuine way. If you get nothing back, or worse, if you get a snarky response, just know that they are losing out and someone who would react that way probably isn’t the kind of photographer you’d want to spend time with anyway. Don’t let it prevent you from reaching out again.
3. Be creative. Are you the outdoorsy-type? Organize a photo walk/hike. Can’t go a day without a cup of coffee? Set up a meeting at a local coffee shop. Into fashion? See if you can partner with a local boutique to photograph their upcoming Spring/Fall collection and invite your soon-to-be photo pal(s).