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1.4 How to Get Work

Finding that first client when you are starting out can be tough. You have spent a lot of time building your portfolio—maybe years now—and you just need that initial break. In this lesson you’ll learn how to approach photo editors.

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1.4 How to Get Work

Finding your first client when you're starting out can usually be pretty tough. You've spent years building your portfolio but now you just need your first break. My approach to finding new clients is just going to a newsstand or local library, flipping through stacks of magazines and newspapers, looking for one that I may not have known about. And also just talking to fellow photographers. Find out who's assigning and who I might be interested in working with. Photo editors and art directors are always listed in the masthead of the magazines, and also online under the publication's contact info. Getting cold call emails from freelance photographers is part of a photo editor's job. And this is usually how I make my first contact. Sending a cold email and introducing myself and my work and requesting a meeting. That being said, getting a referral from a mutual friend to a new photo editor is very helpful. This is why have a network of photographers around you is very important. For instance, I belong to a documentary photography collective made up of 11 members. We're always sharing contact information, and we're happy to introduce someone to a potential client whenever it is helpful. When you're presenting your portfolio in a meeting, you can do it in a variety of ways. Laptops and iPads are the most popular, but for me, I prefer tangible prints or a portfolio book. Meetings are usually fairly quick, about 15 minutes. But that being said, I keep back up portfolios with me in case I have more time or the editor has more questions and wants to see more work. I usually use my laptop for this. Postcards are a nice leave behind for meetings. They can easily be designed and ordered online. A nice big image with your contact info can go a long way when displayed on the right desk. Post cards are also great for mailing campaigns. Sending them out once or twice a year to your favorite editors is a great way to keep people's attention and keeping people's attention is very important. Blogs, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook. It can all be a little overwhelming, but they are all very important. The only way to really tackle this is just to find a strategy that works best for you. For instance, on Facebook I find that people respond better to posting news articles about yourself, interviews, and up and coming exhibitions. They're less interested when you post new photos of new work. But I find the opposite is true on Instagram. People love new work but they're less interested in the rest of the stuff. It is also very important not to come off as obnoxious online. Posting a million hashtags on your photos can make you come off as desperate. Petty arguments with people in public forums is the best way to cancel potential opportunities. There are also other creative ways to promote yourself. I have a lot of photography exhibitions with my personal work. This is a great way to get editors' attention. Also, recently producing do-it-yourself newsprints and street exhibitions, have been popular. Up next, we're gonna be talking about general news photography, how to approach it, and what will be required of you.

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