A photo editor I worked with in the past had a good way to describe what working at a daily newspaper is.
He was saying that a newspaper is like a big monster. You feed him all day long with photos and stories. And no matter how many pages you produced, how many photos you put in, how many texts you wrote, at 12h01 in the morning, you go back with a hundred blank pages to fill.
Being a freelancer is more or less the same. You can have a great month with many assignments and money is coming in. But it does not matter how much money you made on the 31 of the month, because on the first day of the next one you go back to zero, and you have to reach your overhead to stay out of the water.
And when you reach it before the 10th of the month like I just did this month, it’s pretty reassuring.
Two weeks ago, a photographer that I chat with on a photographer web forum announced that he accepted a job as photo director at an important Quebec magazine. Got a call today. Guess who doing a shooting for that magazine this Friday?
I also got a cold call for a another job thru my website. Again, it paid off to have a beautiful and Google-friendly website. The editor wanted me for an editorial job, but he also wanted to know if I could recommend a local studio photographer, for a side part of the same assignment.
Since I am an editorial photographer, I don’t really hang out with studio and commercial photographer. However, a couple of times I worked side by side with a guy that I never had a chance to chat with. One day, I stumbled into him while taking a walk, so we took the time to introduce ourselves and chat a bit. I learned that he has a studio in his apartment, and he gave me his business card.
So of course, that’s the guy I recommended to my client. However, that photographer do not have a website. Did he end up having the job anyway, without the ability to show his work to this potential client? I don’t know yet. But a small investment in time and money would have helped a lot. As a freelance photographer, you ARE a business. Do you know any store that did not invest money for a front sign, some decoration, and maybe some advertising? Invest in good gear, but also invest in self-promotion too!
I’ve often told younger photographers that the most important day in their fresh careers just might be the one where they turn down a job. Turn down a job? Sacre Bleu! You might feel a lump in your throat as you enunciate your thoughts, no question. But it’s a sign that you’re in control of your own destiny.
Matt Mendelsohn on Getting paid