Quebec Premier Jean Charest kicks a ball as he inaugurates a soccer field, part of the Promenade Samuel-de-Champlain Tuesday June 24, 2008 in Quebec City. The Promenade, a 2.5km parkway along the St-Lawrence River, is the gift from the government of Quebec to Quebec city for her 400th's birthday (Photo Francis Vachon)
Jean Charest lors de l’inauguration de la Promenade Samuel-de-Champlain le 24 juin 2008 à Québec (Photo Francis Vachon)

L’été passé, un jeune photojournaliste en (très) début de carrière m’a présenté son portfolio pour recevoir une critique. Parmi ces images, une photo de Jean Charest (Premier ministre du Québec). Pas très bonne, je dois préciser.

« Si ce n’était pas Jean Charest, aurais-tu mis cette photo dans ton portfolio? »

« Non. Mais c’est Jean Charest! »

« Écoutes. Des photos de Jean Charest, j’en ai fait en masse. Les éditeurs photo, ils en voient tous les jours des photos de Jean Charest. Ça ne nous impressionne pas Jean Charest. Si la photo n’était pas assez bonne pour être dans ton portfolio si c’était Jo Nobody à la place de Jean Charest, alors enlève-la de ton book »

Et il là enlevé. Et quelques mois plus tard, il était engagé dans un quotidien de Montréal.

Parfois, on devient attaché émotivement à une image. Parce qu’on admire la personne que l’on a photographiée. Parce que l’accès a été très difficile et qu’on est fière d’avoir réussi à prendre la photo. Parce que c’est une personne très connue. Parce qu’on a fait du « hiking » en montagne sous la pluie pendant 4 jours pour faire la photo.

Cependant, la personne qui regarde le résultat final n’a pas cet attachement émotif et la regarde froidement pour ce qu’elle est. Si vous montrez la photo à 10 personnes et que les 10 vous disent qu’elle n’est pas très bonne… C’est probablement par ce que c’est le cas. Gardez-la pour vous, mais retirez-la de votre portefolio.

PS : Je ne dis pas que c’est À CAUSE DE MOI que le photographe a été engagé. Ce jeune homme avait d’abord un immense désir de réussir dans ce domaine. Il a rencontré plusieurs personnes, a fait l’éponge, absorbant toute l’information qu’il pouvait. Il a mis tout cela en pratique, et cela lui a réussi.

The monster

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

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Copyright © 2017 Francis Vachon. Réalisation web par Eve Drouin-V.