The professional photographer's kit-bag

Tue 1 Dec 2020

With no barriers to entry, a crowded marketplace reconfigured through recent technological adjustments, the immediacy of the image, and its instant global transfer, how is it possible to say remarkable things, as image-makers, and stand out in a competitive space?

Photography is an aspirational field. We are all opportunistic photographers - we have phones and will react to an arresting image by taking it, sharing it and even printing it.

What sets an aspirational photographer apart from a professional one who succeeds in making a career?

Specialise broadly before establishing your brand

Log experience in all aspects of photography; from theory and broad technical know-how, to practice. Take photos of everything - products, nature, weddings, weather events and moments of political unrest. It costs you nothing to document a broad range of skills, paying with your time early on will pay dividends later.

An actor doesn’t find himself playing Hamlet without first playing Puck and a model's first job is rarely the cover of Vogue.

Follow and harangue

What are your peers and competition doing?

Go low to go high: get out the begging bowl and work as an assistant or a photo editor, scout locations for graduate filmakers, and in the meantime continually seek out networking opportunities to bolster your contact list.

People likely won’t need to advertise for an assistant for example, so it will be your job to find the opportunity. Working for free is a compelling USP to begin with.

Be a nuisance with a useful vision.

You are the product

What makes Jane Doe the working photographer she is today, juggling fashion shoots for high street brands and editorial gigs for glossy magazines and you’re waiting outside a nightclub at 2 a.m because you heard there’s a David Beckham look-a-like inside?

Every sales person will tell you: it’s not the product it’s the person. Work your best side, be customer-facing, ambitious and self-confident. Bring something remarkable to the table that sets you apart and makes you memorable to a commissioning agent or buyer.

Agents or editors are habitual and if you do an excellent job, on-time and under budget, you might enjoy repeat bookings and become a permanent fixture or a specialist in the minds of the key decision makers who will make the next call.

Read up on your favourite or notable or veteran photographer's personal journeys, why did they succeed? 

Promotion, promotion, promotion 

An aspiring model isn’t discouraged by knock-backs. 

‘NO’ is ‘YES’ in temporary disguise. 

Photographers need the same ethos and the same tenacity. Be the hardest worker in the room. Cultivate a never say die mantra and a determination to deliver excellence: innovate at every step of the process. Define your own vision with a process and a brand that is remarkable.

Don’t hide behind the computer or hopeful mail drops. Face-to-Face experience drives the industry and is a premium resource.

Website wonders

Build a compelling and interactive website with arresting content, mesmerizing imagery and an introduction to the brains behind the lens. Describe your own journey and invite feedback; treat your Instagram and Facebook pages as evolving extensions of you and your brand, encourage interaction and make sure your interactions impact target audiences or influential peeps.

Create your own blog

Create a blog for your website and update it with current or emerging industry discussions. Encourage responses and stimulate dialogue.

Being a professional photographer isn’t a nine to five thing and imagination, resource, compulsion and ingenuity will define your role within the industry. Transform your image making capabilities by transforming yourself! 

If you've completed a 2-year foundation degree or an HND level course in related fields, and are now looking to receive an internationally recognised undergraduate honours degree, then Falmouth Flexible's online BA(Hons) Photography (Top-Up) is for you.


Photography, Blog

Get in touch today