— Valerie Jardin
Not advice, so much as a ‘reality-check’: it’s not enough that your work is good. If that’s all you think is important, then you’ll enjoy a fruitful reception of ‘likes’ on various social media platforms… and not much else. And though I’ve tried very hard, Visa won’t accept ‘likes’ as a form of currency to pay my monthly bill. Yeah, sure, there are those you hear about being discovered from the obscurity of the internet or elsewhere, and suddenly being given great opportunities, bypassing a lot of network building. But most of the time, an ‘overnight success story’ is a misnomer; the majority of people only ever see the final images and don’t think much about the amount of groundwork it took a photographer (or any artist, really) to have gotten there.
Most of the work invested in building a career isn’t in the craft, as it is in relationships; what else is ‘business’, but relationships? Relationships give you access, not your work; your work is why someone is sitting down with you or accepting your phone call; now it’s up to you to foster and use those relationships to your advantage. Every paying job I’ve ever gotten is because someone referred me, not because the client came across my work randomly.
So, I guess my business advice is, yes, find and hone your photography voice and all that stuff I keep on going on and on about in prior posts… but absolutely do not neglect the importance of seeking out and building relationships in the industry. Don’t sit on your ass, thinking someone is going to come to you; and if you’re introverted or shy or not confident, I don’t know what else to tell you, but ‘get over it’, cause you have to make your own luck happen. Destiny will never ‘call’, it just lays out the map; it’s up to you to get on your feet and follow it, and relationships are the bridges.
There’s always a choice. Definitely don’t shoot anything you don’t want to; your time is worth more.