Reflections On Growth
It can be really, really tough to grow to grow your portfolio and, you know create unique imagery that stands out as well as grow your network and your base and just take things to the next step. It's easy to get kind of stuck in these ruts. And we all go through it. I personally have so many waves that I'm constantly riding where I'm inspired and I'm focused and things are lining up and I'm taking photos I'm really happy with. And then there's moments where I question everything. I don't like the photos I'm taking. I don't like the photos I have. I'm questioning why I'm a photographer why did I choose this industry? How am I gonna how am I gonna make this sustainable? I look at other people's photos and I'm constantly comparing myself. And I'm saying, you know, how can I compete with that? How can I, why do I even bother? And that's normal, it happens. It's you just have to know how to ride that wave and stay afloat. And ways to do that is sometimes you need to step away from the came...
ra. Sometimes you need to, you need to think about things and you need to find inspiration elsewhere. Maybe you just go for a walk in the park and you don't bring your camera with you. And you're just kind of studying the trees and absorbing what's around you. And other times maybe you just need to focus on a little personal project something close to home. We all have unique eyes and a way of seeing the world. And sometimes you need to really harness in instead of focusing on what other people are doing. Just shut that noise off. Maybe you delete Instagram off your phone or Facebook and all these things and just kind of shut out all the noise and just really focus on you. Because at the end of the day it's about you. Your eye, your vision, and your creativity. When I was talking about social media deleting it off your phone and kind of finding that balance and recharging. One of the old school ways is books. So, thank you, good sir. Books. I love photo books. I love collecting, you know stories of adventures and things like that. Here are a few that I always look to. I'm just gonna briefly touch on it. Mountains of the Coast. It's by John Baldwin. He's a local legend. He is, you know photographed so many remote corners of the coast mountains and that's the mountains surrounding me here on the west coast, near Vancouver. He has just timeless images. You can kind of see some of these areas that, you know you can see of in the distance when you're, you know out hiking or on a, on a plane. And going back to that and just kind of that grassroots of just curiosity and exploration and just capturing those moments. It's not always perfect. It's just real time what's out there and what you're seeing. And it's also good documentation of time, you know the glaciers and the ice caps and how it's constantly shifting and changing. So that's one, I really love. Fred Hertzog, Modern Color. It's not landscape photography. It's more, once again, it's like a moment in time capturing Vancouver and the lifestyle and shops and things like that at that time. But this is a book of just it's local, it's close to home and I love how he's shooting for the future. And there's a lot of projects that I've been working on where I'm trying to capture a moment of time not so much that would stand out now but in the future that we can look back on. Another one, Edward Burtynsky, Essential Elements. Basically kind of of more of a conservation focus capturing how humans have been changing the world and kind of for better, for worse, I guess. It's just like really raw minimal abstract images of the world around us and how we have, humans have really made an impact on it. And with my photography I really like to have a conservation effort as much as I can to kind of give back to the places that, you know inspire me, and that I photograph. Another classic is Jeremy Koreski, This is Nowhere. Born and raised in Tofino. He just captures such incredible imagery of the west coast surfing, landscapes, you know, fish, whatever it is. Beautiful books that just really gets me fired up. I love looking through books and just have that feeling of I just wanna be outside. Where when I'm on my phone, you kind of get sucked in and drawn into random things and this and that and there's so much going on. So a book can be a great way to just focus, relax, and start planning your next trip. Big thing when it comes to staying, you know sharp and on your toes and constantly keeping those creative juices flowing is to network. To meet people. To get inspired by not only books and all those kind of things but people. People's stories. And whether it's stories of adventure or someone's local backyard or things like that. You never know who you might meet and where that might lead you to. Especially in the business side of things. A lot of it is who you know and that's based off of, you know building trust with people, showing that, you know you can take incredible photos and deliver things, you know on time or with, you know, high expectations. You're kind of always meeting those needs. So network as much as you can just you might be introverted, it might be tough. You can do it online, send emails, you know send messages and things like that. Just put yourself out to the world. Like, I might not know who you are until you message me. And then you now message me. I know who you are, and maybe we have a chat. Maybe we go for a coffee, or maybe I'm working on a project. And I need a hand. I now know who you are and maybe a little bit about your work and things like that. So you're in the back of my mind. So that's a big part of networking is you want to constantly be at the top of someone's mind. And the more opportunities you get the more you're out shooting and you're kind of out creating. And that's the biggest thing. And if you don't have those opportunities yet and you're building your portfolio shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot. You're gonna hear it all the time. Constantly be learning. By you watching this is telling me that you're, you're eager to learn. You're taking information from other people and you're kind of putting it together to form your own style and your own voice and own opinion on things. So good on you for doing that, because that's a huge step. And just constantly shoot. Pick a subject. Maybe say this tree. See how many different creative compositions you come up with of this one tree,. Shoot it on every lens that you have. Every different angle. Grab a ladder, climb up the tree, shoot down it. Lay on the ground, shoot up it. Go from way back there, shoot it tight. Like just constantly be shooting. And I challenge you to just pick one subject and see, come up with 15 different photos of that one, you know, tree, for example. Just, that's the biggest thing. Just meeting people and shooting and those kind of things go hand in hand. Eventually you'll probably start getting some work. Maybe it's something that you don't want to do. When it comes to landscape photography. A lot of the work is probably gonna be you know, tourism potentially. It could be for companies that are just looking for photos of the area. It could be commercial clients and maybe they're doing developments or things like that. So use that money to put towards personal projects to go on trips and go and shoot and things like that. It's not easy to stay inspired. It's easy to talk about and to tell others. But for me to do it myself it's just constantly shooting. If I find I'm in a lull, I'll just pick up my camera wake up at sunrise and go for a walk around the block and just shoot. Try and shoot as many different things as I can. Just really challenge myself. Maybe I saw, I read a book or saw somebody's photo and it kind of gave me a bit of I want to get something similar to that. And don't get too hung up on being original. Everyone wants to be original but that's not always possible. It's, there's so much stuff that's been done already. And so many things that are constantly being, you know shot and whatnot. And nothing's typically original. And a big way that I learned was by copying. I would see a photo that I really loved that I was inspired by, and I didn't know how to shoot it. Maybe it was this crazy Milky Way photo or this certain scene of somebody standing somewhere with this big landscape. And I was like, how do I get that depth of field? How do I shoot the stars? How do I do this? And sometimes it's just by copying. It's just by understanding how that works. Maybe not, you know, claiming that as your own or putting it out there. But just by doing that, you'll understand how it was shot. For example, I saw this one photo of the Milky Way and I got my camera and I kind of was Googling some stuff and found some idea of how to do it. So excited, beautiful stars. I was in Waterton and I take a photo and there's like five stars and it's kind of blurry. And I was like, so disappointed and distraught. And so it took time to just kinda understand and ask questions and learn from other people and not necessarily copy them, but get a grasp of it. Here are three things that helped me go from shooting you know, on the weekends, as a hobbyist photographer to professional freelance landscape photographer. Number one is social media, Instagram in particular. It's a free tool that you can use to market yourself. I recommend, you know, curating your feed be intentional with it. Make sure that it's eye catching. Cause when people go onto your portfolio and your profile, you wanna make sure that they follow along. Because once you can harness and grow an audience they're gonna wanna support you in your endeavors. Whether it's buying prints or you know books or whatever it is that you wanna sell. They will be there to support you cause they love your work and they love you and what you're doing. So curate it have intention. And don't feel like you need to constantly be posting, every day twice a day. Just take your time and really figure it out and make sure that something that stands out and separates you from the thousands and millions of other photographers on there. Cause that's the biggest thing is to take it to the next level you have to stand out. So post with intention and share your unique vision. Number two, network. I'm gonna say it two times. Network, network, maybe a third time, network. It's super important because it's just getting yourself out there, meeting new people. The more people you meet, maybe they like you. They like your work. They're gonna introduce you to more people or you did a really good job and you know it's just, you built this trust. They're gonna, it's word of mouth. They're gonna talk about you. Maybe somebody, you came up with a new book or you have this limited print run. People are gonna say, did you see that? Like, you know, so and so? I met him the other day. He is a great guy. Or, he sent me an email and introduced himself. Don't, the big thing with this is don't have too much expectations. Put yourself out there. Reach out to people. Send emails. Send DMs, whatever it is. Go have a coffee with somebody. But don't have expectations that you're gonna get work or that people are gonna buy your stuff. Like just put yourself out there. A friendly hello. Say, for example, if you reached out to me I maybe didn't know your work or who you were anything like that beforehand. Until you said, hello, this is who I am. Don't reach out to me saying, Hey, this is what I do. Share this. Or tell all your friends about this or promote me. That's that's not the way to go about it. Just a simple hello, you know. This is a friendly, this is what I do. I like what you do. I'd love to maybe grab a coffee or go for a hike the next time I'm in town. So it's just important to put yourself out there and especially where you wanna be seen. Whether it's in the tourism travel sector. Reach out, find the right people. Google, LinkedIn, whatever it is find the right people and just do a friendly hello. Maybe go for a coffee or something like that with, you know, virtual meetings. It's so accessible these days. So just a friendly, hello. Network. Meet as many people as you can. Number three is to create a standout portfolio. If your portfolio looks like the next guy or girls or whoever it is you're not gonna stand out. So do things. Travel, shoot your local backyard your local park, whatever it is. And just try to tell that story. You have a unique eye. We all have a different vision of the world around us. Use it to your advantage and create a piece of work that just is stands out and unique. Easier said than done, I'll admit. It's taken me years, I'm still working on it. You know, I've been shooting for eight years and I'm still working on building a big standout portfolio. The biggest thing that you need to know is it takes time. You can't expect things to happen overnight. You need drive and passion and to build that skillset to grow this because if you're not constantly learning and constantly doing then you're not gonna succeed and you're not gonna progress. So just know that it's gonna take time. Just stick your head down and grind. And just celebrate each win. As you grow and grow and grow closer to becoming a full-time freelancer. You might have to work multiple jobs. You might fail. I failed. I went freelance. I lasted like five months, ran outta money had to go back to working in the trades build up some more cash and then go back out. But that, when I went back to working in the trades and, after getting that taste of freedom and working and being my own boss that was like a kick in the butt to get out and not have to do that again. I'm gonna work harder. I'm gonna reach out to more people. I'm gonna shoot more. I'm gonna do whatever I can to stand out and create a client list and sell prints or whatever it is to grow my audience to be able to go full time. So don't give up, just keep your head down, grind. If you're passionate enough and you're driven enough it won't feel like work. You're just constantly moving closer and closer to your goals.