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…
WHY You Should Network With Other Photographers
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.