The Work in Network
Networking seems so cliché. The act of going out of your way to meet new people and potentially sound pretentious while asking "so what do you do?" over an awkward cup of coffee just doesn't feel right. Or maybe its just me. The hard truth is networking whether online or in person is very necessary; especially in a close knit field such as media. Although, what I have found is that you can kill two birds with one stone if you're smart about it.
Since this is clearly a photography portfolio, I will speak on what I know – photography. The number one rule for every photographer is keep your camera on your hip at all times. If you follow this rule you will find yourself in situations where you're the go-to guy when someone is in need of your services. I have found myself using the tools and skills I use to make money as a bartering chip to make friends and clients.
Your friend invites you to a day party in the city and you just so happen to have your camera, so naturally you whip it out and start shooting. You wind up capturing a dope shot of someone who runs a cool company. Unknowingly, you post it to the latest social media platform and your blog, and then BOOM! Sooner or later someone realizes: 1) It was a dope shot and 2) It’s so & so who created that cool magazine you always hear about. That image has now become a bartering/networking chip. Use it to break the ice when reaching out to them and flourish.
Don't be hesitant to offer your services for a non monetary return on investment. The long road may bless you later. You have to use your judgement on this one. First, is it worth it? Really worth it. Chances are if it’s fun it probably is. Having a good time doing anything will allow you to give more of yourself, thus making whatever skill you're developing better. Enjoy yourself and hone your skills.
There is a chance to work with a friend on an independent project doing some social good. Your friend needs a photographer to capture images for their project. Of course they can't pay you. The project just started and there is no funding behind it. Why? Because they have nothing to show for it. Duh! Several things could happen. 1) You take some great shots and define the look of the project. You guys package the project right and pitch it to get funding. 2) You take some great shots and add something new to your portfolio. 3) You pass on it and either find something else or regret not diversifying your range of work.
These are just examples of common situations you may or may not have already dealt with. The key is to learn from them, practice what you've taken away and teach others to come up from our lessons. No matter how much I hate the awkward feeling of being in a room full of cool people and not know how to start a conversation, networking is necessary. So as a photographer, learn your camera, shoot often, and use your skills and work as an icebreaker. "Hey, is that a Fuji x100s? How do you like it? Is it better than the Leica M9?" Boom. Conversation started.