Getting your foot in the door is a common talking point between creatives in the industry, and it’s a problem that many starting out, have faced. Keep reading for my five key tips that have helped me personally enhance my quality of work and creative network throughout my journey so far as a photographer:
COLLABORATE with other creatives in your field with a different skillset that could enhance your own. Collaborating is a great way to achieve results you didn’t anticipate achieving going into a project.
For example, as a young aspiring photographer, collaborating with models, actors or dancers will benefit both of your bodies of work. Through this collaboration you will have new photographic work to showcase in your portfolio and the other collaborator will have new portraits and other material to include in their casting books!
Likewise if you are a budding illustrator, you may have created a design that you would like turned into a moving image, this would be the perfect opportunity to team up with someone who can make this vision into a reality.
Other examples of aspiring creatives collaborating can be actors and videographers, sculptors and curators, working collaboratively to amplify both individual’s work.
NETWORK and reach out to local creatives and small businesses and make the most of what’s around you.
As an artist there may be life drawing classes you can attend and this will give you the opportunity to practise and expand your portfolio whilst also meeting fellow artists. At these classes you will be able to connect with other likeminded people who have similar interests as you.
Or even as a growing photographer or musicians who are consistently performing in local venues and at events, will most likely be looking for content from their performances to be posted across their social media platforms. From photographing these events this could then lead to further connections, with word of mouth from the band you’re working alongside, you could be asked to work other events held at these venues…
Keeping an eye out for local events and exhibitions that you can attend will also help to enhance your network and allow you to connect within the local community. Occasionally, there tends to be creative meet ups where creatives are invited to a venue to network and meet other local artists which will also increase your exposure. You could prepare for these events with a business card or a short example of your work, like a zine, that will leave a lasting impression on others.
SOCIAL MEDIA is a vital tool in this digital age and to an extent, is free to use and optimise. Creating accounts and pages on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, with a key focus on Instagram, TikTok and LinkedIn for photographers and creatives alike, is a great way to connect and gain exposure online. Discovering your target audience will help you optimise your social media following and gain an understanding into what drives your engagement, and in turn, help you grow your audience.
Audiences appear to favour a more personal approach from businesses which can also be applied to creatives and the kind of content they share across their accounts. For example, a lot of engagement appears to be driven by brands sharing their creative journey.
As a creative you can share behind the scenes (BTS) videos on platforms such as TikTok and optimising Instagrams reels feature. As a painter you could film a time lapse of your most recent painting, as a digital illustrator you could share a screen recording of you creating your latest illustration, as a photographer you can share a behind the scenes video capturing your latest photoshoot. These are all ways your following will be able to see the behind the scenes process of your work and gain a more personal understanding of the face behind the brand.
Being consistent will also benefit your growth significantly, posting new work weekly will keep your following intrigued, sharing your work across all platforms will increase your potential audience, just ensure that this is all kept in line with your style of content will outline your personal brand.
SUBMIT your work to publications and competitions. A lot of competitions and awards will either have an open brief, or a brief that can be interpreted by the individual, giving you a lot of creative freedom to showcase your style and inspirations. These competitions and awards are free to enter a lot of the time and have a deadline of a few months from the announcement date, giving you a lot of time to plan and execute your entry!
Another opportunity to submit your work is through online and print publications, such as zines and magazines, who regularly will share an open call for entries to gain content for their upcoming issue. This process is usually similar to competitions and awards where the upcoming issue may have an open brief such as one word which the individual can interpret. These are also likely to be free to submit to and if featured your work is likely to be shared in their publication and across their social media platforms.
EXHIBIT your work at local galleries and public spaces. A lot of small galleries will allow you to rent out their space for a set amount of time. Public spaces and small businesses may also have opportunities for exhibiting and selling your work. As an example, a local café nearby showcases different artists’ work each month and their original work/prints are available to buy during this time. Do your research and visit local businesses and galleries to see what opportunities are open to you.
Alternatively, you can submit your work to be a part of a collaborative exhibition that may be organised by a creative business. From personal experience, I was a part of a collaborative exhibition that took place in a local bar. I paid for a series of three photographs I had taken to be printed and framed and exhibited these for a few days. The launch night was a great success; local creatives attended and I was able to network throughout the night, gaining new connections and contacts within the local creative scene.
In short, be consistent and share your work with your audience, don’t be afraid to reach out to people and network online and in person, and as hard as it is, focus on your own journey and try not to compare your work and progress to others.