Sooo, I hit play on a voicemail from my fabulous girlfriend, Gina, this morning, and she practically threw up in my phone. She was disgusted that the SAME post popped up the last 17 times she’d checked in for updates Ehhh, MY BAD!! We’ve been traveling a bit, but I’ve undoubtedly neglected my blog… making me lame.
Last month, I received an email from a sweet sweet student at the New England Institute of Art of Boston with questions for an assigned project. I thought I’d share a few, in the hopes someone gains at least an ounce of insight.
1. What is your educational background? Do you have a degree in photography, art, or business? Or something completely different?
The only “formal” training I have in photography was a film photo class I took in Italy as a Sophomore. I graduated from Syracuse University’s amazing communications school, S.I. Newhouse. My focus was Public Relations, but I was lucky to have vast exposure to other disciplines and business.
2. Do you think your educational background helped you to get the job you currently have? Does the fact that you have a degree (if you have one) weigh in on the jobs and clients you get, or do you think your portfolio is what gets you hired? Or a combination of both?
Although I wish I knew more about the technical side of photography, my business background has helped me tremendously. So many incredible artists fail because they lack business savvy. About 20% of my career is art-focused. The remaining 80% is all business (client relations, marketing, brand development, finances, answering emails, conducting meetings, etc.). Ultimately, what gets me hired is ME. The photography industry is oversaturated, and couples will always be able to find someone cheaper. The only thing separating me from the thousands of other portfolios, is me. So capitalizing on who I am, my lifestyle, what I think about, look like, and enjoy is what will create the emotional attachment between me and a client – and all of sudden, no one else matters because we connect on a different level.
3. What are your thoughts on working or assisting other photographers for free?
I don’t think “free” is ever fair. There HAS to be a valuable exchange. Even if that’s one-on-one attention to YOUR questions and weaknesses, or getting to use the images you take at their event for your own portfolio, you have to “win” in the partnership too. I think finding and second shooting with a great photographer who’s where you’d eventually like to be, is a great way to learn hands-on what this business entails. For those of you just starting out, you still have something to contribute… so don’t give yourself away for free!
4. Are you SEO conscious-minded when it comes to your website and other online presences?
Yes. SEO is crucial for my business, which is specifically targeted around the country and internationally. If I want people to find me all over the map, I have to be building a strong web search presence. The only downfall is that it takes time to build.
5. What is your worst professional habit (such as procrastination, etc)?
Hands down, promoting. I love meeting new people and socializing, but when I feel like I HAVE to meet with new vendors, stores, or other businesses to gain referrals, I twitch. I feel weird promoting myself. Thankfully, my husband loves talking to everyone and anyone.
6. If you could go back to the time when you were an undergrad, and maybe ‘just starting out’, what would you have done differently?
Other than actually having a background in photography and learning the technical side, I would have asked more questions. I was shy and felt like I should have known everything, so I hesitated reaching out. No one walks into an industry and understanding every part. Asking questions also fosters relationships, on top of gaining knowledge.
And here’s a shot from beautiful Victoria, BC, where we spent the weekend with great friends and lots of love!