Who has two thumbs and has been absolutely awful at blogging lately? This gal. Since taking off the whole month of April for a leisurely jaunt through Asia, updating this blog has been pretty hit or miss, due mainly to overly ambitious goals. By now I was hoping to have my full recap blogs for the Asia trip published, but haven’t even made it halfway through, all the while juggling regular work as my photography busy season begins to sink in. This post is an attempt at getting caught up on blogging and getting back into doing a weekly post.
2015 was a rough year for me as a photographer, mainly because I felt drained and uninspired to shoot anything, especially music and concerts. It’s probably due to being in the business for a little too long and finding the work repetitive. My entire sentiment toward photography changed in May, and suddenly I saw a huge boost in motivation and inspiration. One big thing I notice is the I credit this 100% to April’s travels, which definitely did their job of giving a much-needed mental break and leaving me more refreshed and inspired to work than ever before. That is to say, vacations are important! Make time for them, and they’ll reward you.
May 2016 Stats
Monthly Highlights Series
Photo shoots completed
*17 more than April
Business miles driven
*666.5 more than April
Hours worked for the month
*171.91 more than April
*87.92 less than April
*34 more than April
What Went Well
24 hours after returning stateside from Hong Kong, I found myself jolted back into my element shooting food photos at Seattle’s iconic Elliott’s Oyster House downtown. The rest of the month brought on much more food and architecture photography work at places such as Metropolitan Grill, Naka Seattle, San Fermo, Corvus, and the newly revived Mama’s Cantina. All in all, it was a great month for food photos and made it clear that my New Year’s resolution of upping my food photography work in Seattle is on its way to fulfillment. Perhaps the best part of all was realizing that I have a solid base of food and architecture clients that I can rely on for steady work and who trust me enough to be willing to wait and schedule photo shoots with me based on my availability. Compared to the life of an editorial freelancer where it’s based mainly on availability, it’s good to know I have solid partnerships out there with quality clients.
Event photography, another staple of my creative income, was also a key highlight of May with regular local events such as the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF), Beat the Bridge and Sasquatch Music Festival taking center stage. I was also honored to work with Delta Air Lines and the Seattle Sounders for the first time, shooting a promo piece with Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei.
Another photography-related highlight of the month was having the opportunity to a photography assistant my colleague, Alan Alabastro, on a couple of his shoots. As a self-taught photographer, photo assisting is one of the best ways to reinforce your skills and techniques, as well as learn tidbits from other professionals. My two experiences with Alan taught me a ton and helped invigorate my passion for photography even more.
Refining the art of the pitch
As a freelancer or self-employed individual, the most important thing to keep in mind is that you should never stop promoting yourself. Many industries, especially in creative fields, are based entirely on word-of-mouth and referrals, so your reputation is your most valuable asset. The month of May reinforced these beliefs as I found several dream opportunities in my inbox that were based purely on a colleague’s recommendation, no job application or formal interviews required.
I also spent a good chunk of my free time in May planning out future photography projects, setting my sights on expanding into new photography markets. In the photography world, this means refining your portfolio and your pitch. I started undergoing a massive update to my photography portfolio, and sent about a dozen emails out to various editors, introducing myself and pitching them projects. I recall doing this several years ago when I was looking to push further into the music photography industry and having a 1% response rate, with the rest of my messages being left unanswered. While that might seem like a low success rate, the truth is you just need one “yes” to really get you going in the right direction. This time around, I vetted my sources much more closely and had a 40% response rate for my pitches, meaning I created several new projects for myself that I’m truly excited about. More on this later!
A quick note on photography portfolio updates and pitching editors–notice that I sent out my pitches before my portfolio was 100% ready to go. My belief as both a photographer presenting my work and as a website designer who works with a lot of artists is that it’s best to have something published, rather than nothing. Just make sure you have enough of your portfolio ready to go to make a worthwhile impression on an editor, and fire away! Even my 75% completed portfolio was enough to get buy off from several key editors that I’ve had my eye on for a while.
What Didn’t Go Well
Too many priorities = lack of priorities
When my head starts to fill with ideas, it’s like a faucet that can’t be turned off. April’s vacation spawned so many ideas in my head that May was all about trying to execute them all at once. In the end, not much was achieved by chasing a million ideas at once, so prioritization was really lacking this month.