As I faced the blank screen of writer’s block in my struggle to produce the promised article for the erudite journal, f11 Magazine-for photographers and aficionados; the thought struck me that I should speak to one of many network connections and see if they could offer the magic solution – a theme.
Pondering the many ways of avoiding just getting on with it and doing some writing, it occurred to me that I do have a large network of connections and that they had played a significant part of what is my photographic life today.
Whilst cries for photographic help often come in the form of “what camera”, “which software” and “how much”, I am more of the opinion that a solid network of support and advisors is just as important. It goes without saying that the support of a life partner rates highly; your Mum is usually not your best creative critic. Sometimes that is not another photographer but a creative from another field. Good aesthetics apply in many genres.
Commencing my commercial photographic practice somewhat late in life, part of my network has always been younger people. Why not older more experienced folk? My first business partner was younger and able to communicate with what seemed then to be pre-teenage art directors; but I knew what an invoice looked like, the value of schmoozing with the bank manager and how to order from a wine list. The value from networks is the interchange of ideas and thoughts.
Buying the cheapest, newest photographic device on-line is easy and sometimes financially attractive – building a solid relationship with staff at a professional supply house can sometimes repay in times of dire need. Being the strong silent self-contained one-man band is often a prime aim in setting up a business, but having access to a network of like-minded, or perhaps wildly differing, photographers can sometimes enhance the product your little business offers without detracting from its integrity.
Regularly using the same copywriter, commercial artist, printer, or helicopter pilot sometimes makes you feel vulnerable to the possibility of their taking advantage of your custom. But looked at another way it brings them into your network and the regular use of their unique skills reflects your unique output.
Joining professional institutes – photographic, business, industry or charity – broadens the network options in ways beyond photographic techniques. Too many photographers feel that photography is the beginning, the middle and the end of maintaining a business.
F-stops are critical, but feelings are crucial. A good connection with a client will outlast a technically perfect image. That’s my theme, the one I’d been searching for – the value of networks and networking, found and explored.
I also chose NOT to contact this journal’s learned publisher (more commonly known by his contributors as The Dark Lord), electing to save that network connection for when I really need some assistance.
I can sense his exasperation now…
This article appeared in Issue 29, f11 Magazine – for photographers and aficionados, an online magazine read by over 5000 professional photographers.