by Ralph Mennemeyer
In my opinion the secret to success for photographers and/or artists, boils down to a couple of key things – not the least of which is timing – aka “dumb luck”. It is a promo card that comes across a desk at just the moment that the creative is looking for something like that. It is the sum total of being “out there” in as many places as you can be – consistently – with amazing work.
AMAZING WORK. Not good work. Not pretty good work. Not work that anyone could do (which sadly is what we are all competing for most of the time) but AMAZING, INSPIRING, BREATHTAKING WORK THAT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO FORGET. And how do you get there? Shoot all the time. It won’t all be great – but if you shoot enough you allow yourself the opportunity for greatness to happen! Famous authors don’t sit down and write a book…they write ten drafts of the same page. Enough pages and well….you get the point. Same with musicians…same with all creatives. Create enough good work – let it be seen in enough venues enough times…and your chances have improved.
But now the secret – which nobody wants to talk about but it is the truth – make genuine friends with every client you work with. Not only “never burn a bridge” (a motto that you have to live by) – but never let a client walk out the door and not stay in touch again. The one consistent quality I have seen over the years between those photographers who year in and year out make it big – is that the big ones know more people personally. And if you think about it – it makes sense.
Here is the art director (CD, client..whatever) and they are giving you their vision – their BABY- which they have thought up themselves, fought tooth and nail to get pushed through countless committees, labored over, compromised, pitched fits to make it happen and now they bring it to YOU to bring to life. What a privilege! But 8 out of 10 photographers treat it like “this is my gig today” and never give them a thought once they have walked out the door. Many don’t even remember the AD’s name a month later. Shame on them! The good ones remember the name – their kids names – their wife or husband or BFF or dog or cats name. They take the time – in the trenches or at lunch or at a lunch right after – to get to know them as people. And then….they stay in touch. Not just when they want a job – but when they see an article that is something the creative is interested in….fly fishing, manolo blahnik shoes, Maroon 5…whatever.
As much as this is a visual business – ALL BUSINESS IS PERSONAL BUSINESS. And if you don’t know the “person” it’s hard to get ahead. Whether you get a copy of Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People” or any of a dozen other authors who preach the same thing the truth always boils down to the person they know and trust is the person they will go to. Earn both titles. Do great work for them…AND…get to know them. In the future your life will be richer on both fronts – financial and personal.