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Why It Is Important To Network With Other Photographers

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Why It Is Important To Network With Other Photographers

When my wife Ally wishes for world peace every time she blows out candles everyone in her family chuckles and pokes a little fun at her, but she goes right on wishing for it every time…  Peace is a good thing and we’re all looking for some form of it.  I have seen many photographers lament about the lack of peace and the cutthroat nature of the photography business in their market.  But I’m here to tell you competition is indeed good for the marketplace since it helps to keep folks honest and from becoming complacent, and cooperating and building relationships with other studios can be rewarding.  There will be photographers in your town who don’t get it and never will, but you can connect with good people and this can even help you grow your studio.  Let’s dig into some reasons why you should and some ways to do it…

network

WHY You Should Network With Other Photographers

  1. You can learn from your peers.  Whether you pick up a new lighting tip, advice on how to handle a certain scenario with a client, ideas for products or marketing you really can recharge and grow by exchanging ideas with folks who do what you do every day.  You don’t have to divulge your deepest studio secrets but the more you share the more trust you can build and the more you’ll get back.
  2. Other photographers can be a referral source – both ways.  I wrote recently here on MCP Actions about why photography studios should specialize, and as I mentioned we do not photograph big events.  There is another photographer in town who does a fantastic job with events and because we networked with him and built a relationship with him we can feel comfortable sending our clients his way.  Even though we don’t do events we can still make sure our clients are taken care of and they appreciate that.  You may also find someone who wants no part of newborns and will send them your way if that’s your specialty for example.
  3. Working together with other photographers elevates the profession.  Clients enjoy seeing their favorite local businesses working together – even when it’s in the same industry.  It’s just a good way to create harmony for the local economy.  Playing nicely in the sandbox reinforces the notion that photographers take their craft and livelihood seriously and are professionals as a whole – not just in our dealings with our clients but when it comes to the big picture too.  Fair or not, the profession of used car salesman doesn’t give people warm and fuzzies.  Let’s give people the opposite impression about photographers.

HOW You Can Network With Other Photographers

  1. Connect with them online and follow their content.  Social media is social right?  Visit and/or like a facebook page of another studio and be GENUINE about it.  Don’t overdo it with a sudden onslaught of comments, but a like or a comment here or there is a good way to start building a relationship.  Follow their instagram or twitter – just introduce yourself and strike up a conversation.  Read their blogs and post thoughtful comments.  You can send them a direct message as well.  Just be friendly.
  2. Visit their studio.  This may be bold so proceed with caution and it can depend on their environment.  For example our studio is a fishbowl in a mall and you can see us sitting at our desks in plain view.  It’s certainly not uncommon for other photographers to be here for any number of reasons and when they’ve peeked their heads in to say hello when we aren’t shooting or with a client we have totally welcomed that.  Just be genuine, respectful and friendly.  We had a photographer stop in and start asking questions just to get information without identifying himself as another photographer thinking we didn’t know who he was.  We did, and we busted him right there – he was a little embarrassed and rightfully so….  DON’T do that…  Oh, and don’t show up at their studio telling them what they are doing wrong and why you know everything and they don’t.  That also happened…  Like I said at the beginning, some don’t get it.
  3. Join online photography forums and/or groups (such as the MCP Facebook Group), google +, or LinkedIn and join in the discussion.  You can learn a lot there and on some of the membership forums the topics are very organized so you can get the info you need pretty quickly.
  4. Go to seminars and conventions.  We met an established photographer from our backyard 3 states away in Nashville at Imaging USA a few years ago and we’ve connected with her back home.  She’s been very helpful to us and we have great respect and admiration for her.  Not to mention we’ve met photographers from all around the country and we keep in touch with many of them.
  5. Organize meetups with other local photogs you’ve met on forums.  We have a group locally we meet with every few months at one of our studios and we usually rotate the meeting location from studio to studio.

I know there are plenty of other ideas – what are some other ways you have networked with other photographers in your town and what have you gotten out of it?

Doug Cohen is a co-owner of Frameable Faces Photography with his wife Ally in the Orchard Mall in West Bloomfield, MI.  Ally is the photographer and Doug handles the sales and marketing  You can follow them on twitter and instagram at @frameablefaces and you can also connect with Doug on twitter at @dougcohen10.  He writes for their blog and sings in a rock band called the Detroit Stimulus Package.

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8 Comments

  1. Vicki
    July 18, 2013 at 8:43 pm —

    Doug, great article! I was wondering what you do at your local meetups. Is it strictly social or do you have some sort of program?

    • July 19, 2013 at 9:53 am —

      Hi Vicki – I’m glad you enjoyed the article! At our meetups there is usually a loose itinerary – for example at a recent one there was a conference call hosted by Seniors Ignite about senior portraits that day, so the meetup went something like this: Some of us hadn’t been to this studio before so when we got there we spent some time getting a tour of the studio and discussing best practices – her setup, lighting, ordering room, general discussion about her studio etc. Then we settled in and caught up with each other a bit – mix of socializing, industry gossiping (lol), and sharing some best practices. Then we ordered lunch and called into the conference call and made it kind of a working/eating/listening lunch, followed by some discussion about the information covered on the call and more schmoozing and that was pretty much it. Fun and productive and very typical. Sometimes if someone has a certain area of expertise we’ll make a point of focusing a discussion on that. Hope that helps! 🙂

      • July 19, 2013 at 9:56 am —

        WHOA – that is scary… so sorry – I’ve had issues before commenting as “guest writer” if I’ve been logged in and I thought I was attaching my avatar but my avatar ended up posting after all as well as attaching in a big scary file….. ugh.

  2. July 19, 2013 at 12:07 am —

    I network more with DJ’s, florists and videographers who I get far more referrals from. Seems that any form of interest I get from other photographers is about wanting to know how I do things or whether I’m hiring.

    • July 27, 2013 at 4:00 pm —

      Thanks for commenting George. Sounds like you focus on events – do you do a lot of portrait work as well? I don’t want to assume but maybe from a referral standpoint you can network with folks who focus more on portraits and NOT events if events are your niche. Or for talking shop and best practices, maybe keep searching for an event photographer a market or two away who is at a similar level as you so you can learn from each other? Just suggestions – not telling you what to do… 🙂

  3. July 20, 2013 at 6:35 am —

    Such great tips… I have to try more to meet photographers in my area, there seems to be little “clicks” but im sure it will work if I keep trying. Thank you!

    • July 20, 2013 at 12:47 pm —

      Thanks Jade! No doubt that some groups may be reluctant to let in “outsiders”, but it’s worth it to keep trying and you will find people you can connect with. Traveling to a convention like Imaging USA for example or just connecting with people online can definitely help you to expand your reach beyond your community if you aren’t having luck in your own town.

  4. August 9, 2013 at 9:35 am —

    I’ve heard this idea before through attending seminars and online info sessions. The idea behind it (networking with other photographers) is great but in actuality it is much more challenging to successfully put in place.

    One factor is geographic region. Some areas/cities/countries don’t have the photographers that want to network. I’ve had that challenge in the central Ontario, Canada location I am at. Every photographer I’ve approached has said they think it is a great idea but time and time again I’m the one giving them referrals when my schedule is already booked but they almost never return the favor. After 2 years I drop them having given several their way and never getting any in return. Happens again and again. Now … after trying for 5 years I finally appear to have 2 ladies that actually acknowledge my referrals in one sending me a $50 diner card as a thank you for booking a referral from me (was very kind of her to do that) and the other photog just touched base with me because she is already booked for a recent inquiry. Wow, what a treat for a change. But that certainly isn’t the norm from my experiences in the smaller city I live in.

    “Clicks” … yup, seen that as well. I tried to get into one at the start and was shunned. There is another one, a group of ladies and they do their own thing.

    What I have found is those that are excited about the idea of networking are the Noobs and there is such a gap between my services and pricing and theirs that networking gets me to know new people in my area but never results in an exchange of a client (due to a schedule conflict where we can pass along a client) because their clients want mediocre work at a Walmart price (so they go to the Noob) where mine understand you get what you pay for and would not go to a Noob as they can see the difference in the quality and can afford that luxury. So I need to network with those of similar skills but it just doesn’t happen in my area. They say to me they want to and are happy to take my referrals, but never reciprocate. It has been disappointing and for the most part I’ve given up on that type of networking and have gone with the wedding venues (give them images from weddings to use for their marketing in return for a mention of me) and that has been much more successful for aiding my business.

    These are just my experiences as I know photographer-to-photographer networking has worked very well for some … but I feel one needs to be in an area that produces Photogs of that kind.

    Thanks for putting together the article.

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Why It Is Important To Network With Other Photographers