I recently received an email from my College Professor/Mentor, asking if I would you be willing to share advice with his students, on what I think young photographers need to know to be successful. Figured I'd post it here, as it may be helpful to others as well. Here is what I replied with:
What young photographers need to know in order to be successful? Let me know when you find out the answer, I'm still trying to figure it out!! Just kidding. In all seriousness, here are some tips and info that have helped me out thus far in my career:
-Networking: As lame as it sounds, it's actually not that bad, and can be extremely beneficial. I landed my biggest job to date this year, and I landed it via networking; shaking hands, talking to important industry people, going to events where I may be able to meet people interested in my work, exchanging business cards/information, etc...
* However, a majority of my work still comes via "word of mouth".
-Social Networking/Self-Promotion: I have a fashion/portrait/editorial website, a wedding/engagement site, a blog (which is constantly updated with new work), twitter account, Facebook account , and a Vimeo (video) account. My web-presence may be a little excessive to some, but it's really not much work to manage them on a regular basis. A majority of these accounts are frequently updated from my phone. The most important to me would be my websites and my blog, especially my blog as of late. I'm able to post multiple photos from shoots, behind the scenes videos, and written content explaning what's going on. I've gotten multiple jobs because of work that clients have seen on my blog. People just enjoy blogging and viewing other interesting blogs. I'm one of em.
-Shoot Shoot Shoot: Earlier this year I fell into this slump of "If I'm not getting paid, I'm not pulling out my camera". Terrible, right? That didn't last long, as I quickly remembered why I started making photos in the first place: because I love to shoot photos. That being said, I went on a shooting spree. I reached out to models I've worked with before, and set up a ton of non-paid shoots with my team of hair/makeup artists. The photos I've been getting from personal shoots are some of my strongest/favorite photos to date. Everyone involved benefits from these non-paid shoots that I arrange, as we are all able to use them in out portfolios. These personal shoots I speak of aren't always these big productions, sometimes it's just me and a model walking around untill we find interesting locations to shoot at. As long as I'm staying active, and shooting on a regular basis, I feel productive. The more I shoot, the more I learn. The more I learn, the better I get.
-Confident: Be confident of your work. If you have solid work, be confident of it. Nobody wants to hire a photographer that isn't sure if they can deliver. I've been in situtaions where I was a little intimidated, but I didn't let it show. I charged into the shoot like a professional, and everything worked out great (thank god).
Hopefully this helps. I'm still in a position of growth, and have a lot to learn. However, I do have some great experience and these are some of the things that have helped me out thus far.