Last week, I was at a local coffee shop meeting with a friend who I had done some head shots for. We were doing a little editing on the fly and talking about how to make our picks–what to look for, what to throw away, etc. The morning barista was closing out her till and asked us what we were doing. After I explained to her about the head shot session I had done with my friend and now his interest in hoping to use a few of the photos to assist him in his job search, she offered some feedback, and a dialogue opened up between the three of us. Turns out she is a theatrical costume designer.
After our little meeting of the minds, Megan, the costume designer, asked me what I shoot. I always struggle with this question because it means it could lead to some work, but answer it wrong, and maybe I’ll blow it… who knows. My shooting tends to be of the generalist variety, but I always like photographing and working with people, no matter what the application, and this is usually my response. I have found it allows me to find out more about what the person is looking for, and then let me adapt my answer to hopefully fit their needs. Turns out that Megan was just looking to get some on-stage (theatrical) production shots of her costume designs, so naturally, I could accommodate her needs. She informed me that there might be some other photographers there to shoot also, and that she couldn’t pay for my services, which is fine, at this stage of the negotiation. She was just looking to get some telling shots showing her designs at work. The hope here is that this little shoot will lead to bigger and better things. Bear in mind that I will retain the copyright on all images and any further usage will still be negotiated. Perhaps the production company, director, or the play-house will see something they like and approach me for other work or want to purchase rights to an image I shot.
The point here is that you must always be on the lookout for shooting work, either paid or unpaid, and whether or not you’re still assisting. Continually developing your skills and developing your portfolio as a photographer is a must. Always keep your eyes sharp and your ears peeled! Networking opportunities are everywhere, even when you least expect it.