Today's blog post comes from a fellow photographer and friend looking to make her way in the big, wide world of photography. My guest blogger is Rebecca Herem and among the many reasons I admire her is her willingness to up and move to a place that she loves to do something she loves. As you will see from her post today, that move has not been without difficulties but she is determined to make it work. I believe she has learned a lot from the process and she is willing and open enough to share those insights with us here. Although the title of her post mentions "recent grads" and "new photographers", I think even seasoned photographers or anyone looking to make a change could gain insight or maybe inspiration from Bek's journey:
Relocating: Tips for recent college grads and other new photographers
Just months after graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in photography, I
decided to leave the land-locked and way-too-cold-for-my-tastes state of Montana
in search of new opportunities (and a warmer climate!). I had exactly 1.5 years of
professional photography experience under my belt, and felt confident in my ability
to find new clients in a big city over 800 miles from home.
But then I hit a snag: once I got there, I couldn’t find work! And this was for good
Though professors and photo pros throughout college did their best to cement into
our brains the need to “network, network, network!” I hadn’t realized just how true
this was until I moved away from—and mostly out of—my own network. Suddenly
it dawned on me: geez, they weren’t kidding! Literally every photo job I’d gotten
had been dropped in my lap by a professor, classmate, friend, or family member.
I realized that, in a nutshell, I didn’t know how to go about getting these jobs for
myself. Not surprisingly, this created problems when I relocated!
This brings me to offer two pieces of advice for photographers in similar situations:
1. Network in as many ways as possible before, during, and after you relocate. Try to
avoid the mentality that it will be easier to find work once you get to where you’re
going (otherwise, like me, you may find your hair falling out from the stress levels
associated with watching the bank account slowly empty…) It’s true that it’s harder
to job hunt and make contacts from far away, but by no means impossible! Even
one, small job will ease you into your new environment better than simply showing
up and finding yourself asking the inevitable “Now what?”
2. Utilize every tool and resource available to you. This means advertizing your
business services in as many places as possible (both online and in person) and
enlisting the help of anyone you know who has knowledge that could smooth the
transition process. (If you paid close attention to that last bit, you may have noticed
that, again, this involves networking! ;)
Since I had been living on Easy Street (metaphorically) before I moved, I neglected
to secure any kind of job opportunities prior to arriving. I thought it would be easy
to find clients, and had only researched the market casually. I thought, “It’s a big city,
there will be tons of jobs!” Well, it’s true that there were more jobs, but just as true
that there are also many more people clamoring for those jobs!
Fortunately for me, I had better luck with point #2: utilizing resources. I enlisted
the help of several of my best friends in getting my business off the ground in my
new city: Thomas designed my professional website, Lucas got it online and fully
functional, Daniel provided invaluable business marketing advice, and they all gave
much-needed suggestions and words of encouragement. I could not ask for a better support team!
Lastly, if, like me, you are relocating with a shiny new degree and solid experience,
but jobs still aren’t coming in like you hoped, help yourself out! Ease any financial
strain by getting a side job with scheduled hours (guaranteed income) or build some
good credit by taking out a small business loan. These things can, at the very least,
fund your business and land you more contacts.
In my case, I found that as soon as I ditched the more conventional methods of job-
hunting (looking for job postings) and began contacting potential clients that I found
through my own research, the pieces began falling into place. This makes good
sense, as ours is certainly not a very conventional job market!
Whatever you do, keep your head up! Even if you do find yourself taking smaller
steps than you hoped, take comfort in the fact that you are getting somewhere!