Instead of bemoaning where things used to be I am trying to focus on where they might end up. I’m always thinking about new ways to get myself out there and new things I can do to make my mark. I am also asking for help more than I may have in the past. And that is a great thing.
In this time of turbulence it’s more important than ever to connect with people you know and with people you want to know. If things aren’t going well then all we have is each other. Now I’m not trying to sound like a self-help book, but feeling a part of something is much better and much healthier than isolating yourself.
In New York City you are maybe two degrees at most away from someone in media. Take advantage of that! Ask your friends if they know any photo editors or art buyers and if they will make an introduction for you. Think in terms of the long run. Not everything pans out immediately, but if you are taking a long-range view of your future, you will have more success.
Is your book ready to go at a moment’s notice? Is your website current and attractive for viewing? If you’ve been meaning to update and improve your portfolio or website do it now! If unbelievably you don’t have a website, DO IT NOW! There is no time to waste, because what you should be spending time doing is thinking about how you can make yourself known and your work seen.
Do you read other photography blogs? Why not? Do you comment on things you read? Why not? Do you have a blog? Is it something people can get value from? By that I mean are you offering an opinion or information or ideas that are singular to you? The world doesn’t need another self-involved blog from a photographer who has nothing to say. However, you can make your blog important reading by really understanding what it can be for you. Maybe you want to comment on other people’s work. Maybe you want to talk about your own. Maybe you want to comment on the larger issues in the industry. Make sure you’ve looked around at some of the thousands of other blogs to see how you can make a real, unique contribution.
And if you have a blog, is it linked to others? If you’re just beaming things out into the void without touching down anywhere it will be harder for you to be found. Think about it, you can communicate with and befriend people around the world through the Web. That’s incredible! Think about how you can connect with people everywhere.
If work is slow (or even non-existent) ask yourself what else you can do. If that means taking a job in order to support yourself, so be it. There’s no shame in supporting yourself. Is there a way you can barter for work? Can you do publicity for a neighborhood business in trade for their offerings? Maybe you can shoot some publicity for a local restaurant that will pay you in meals. I don’t think enough people are thinking this way. When things are tight bartering is more important than ever.
I think people should be talking more with each other and coming up with new ideas. I mean if not now, when? If you get an idea, execute it! Don’t wait for things to come to you. Think in new ways, create in new ways and maybe you’ll come up with a viable outlet for others as well. The old ways are falling to pieces at our feet. Let’s get out there and create new avenues for story telling and for great art. Let's show the vital value of photography in our world.
And finally, I hope this goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway)—SHOOT MORE!! Get better at what you do, produce more. It will keep you sharp, keep you connected, and keep you learning and refining your eye. Thing big. Be the photographer you want to be. Don’t stop and don’t let things stop you in your tracks. Things will change, and those who are ready for the change will be able to take advantage when it comes. If you really want to be a professional photographer, be one. Fight despair; fight the impulse to give up.
Remember, you are not alone; we are all going through this together.