If you're an aspiring lifestyle, commercial, or fashion photographer who doesn't live anywhere near the large cities, can you make your business a success? Olivia Bossert, an established fashion and lifestyle photographer, gives you her insight on how she did it.
Bossert discovered her calling for art and photography at an early age, as she was always surrounded by fashion magazines which her mum would bring home. But, it wasn't until the age of 15 when she discovered Flickr and the immense amount of talent on there, that she sneakily stole her parents' Nikon D80 and spent hours learning how to use it by watching YouTube tutorials. The excitement of shooting everything around her didn't diminish and instead confirmed her choice of career; this was further cemented by studying fashion photography at a university.
The studies took place in town called Falmouth, which is almost a six-hour drive away from the British fashion hub and epicenter that is London. Although it may seem a natural move to anyone interested in fashion and photography to eventually move to London, or at least closer to it, Bossert was instead allowing her work to become inspired by the beautiful and raw landscape around her of "rolling hills, cliffs, rivers pouring out into the sea," and she stayed put.
First Step: Confidence
The first hurdle was to gain confidence and belief in being able to start a successful fashion and commercial photography career miles away from London. Not thinking it was a possible scenario for her, Bossert initially tried wedding photography but found it lacking in creativity and eventually came back to what was her true passion and consciously decided to kick things off by spending a lot of time and effort into creating her fashion and commercial photography brand.
Understanding that even the most successful photographers are sometimes clouded by self-doubt and at times suffer from the "imposter syndrome," which makes you feel that you're not capable and lack in every aspect, will remind you that it's just a voice in your head that needs to be shut down. Aligning your thoughts and forming a positive head-space is important because it gives you that extra push to be daring and pro-active in your business.
Second Step: Ideal Client
Bossert sat down to figure out what exactly she wants to the core of her business to be and what her clients are. Her strong interest in social media came hand in hand as she studied the needs of her ideal clients, which include increasing the brand's online appearance. The need for fresh content is very strong for fashion brands at the moment, and as such Bossert sought out companies that she thought may need more content and began pitching herself to them.
The winner for me? I chose brands that use landscapes like that ones I live around for their images. Most of the time, if a brand in London wants to have imagery taken in the countryside, they need to send a photographer there. I removed that issue, as I was already here. Sure enough, it worked, and by the end of the year, I’d worked with five major brands that needed content in my style, and in my area. Not only that, but the work I’ve done with them has raised my profile in the local area, so I’ve seen a surge in interest from local brands, too!
Bossert encourages photographers to place themselves in the clients' shoes, and to think what they need, how can you present it to them, how can you give them something they won't turn away, and how will this improve their brand presence.
Third Step: Knock on the Doors
The biggest thing to get things going for Bossert was to keep pitching to brands. Introducing herself, what she can do for them, and showcasing her portfolio helped her open doors to new opportunities. There are no excuses for not putting in the effort to make yourself known in front of the right people because today's world is so connected that we don't even have to leave our home office to get in touch with brands across the world.
Don't wait for people to find you because if you don't do the legwork, someone else will. Work on your strategy to politely introduce yourself and your business, and be pro-active in generating new leads. The more you spread your name, the more likely you'll receive one "yes," even if it takes a hundred "no's."
Fourth Step: Maintain Your Brand
Sure enough, it's hard work to kickstart your business, but what's even harder is to keep maintaining it in a world that's so connected today through a hundred and one different types of social media and online presence sites. Bossert spent a lot of time figuring out what works and what doesn't work for her business when using social media, and still continues to analyze her progress because the world of social media changes by the minute.
I engage with my followers, and people who don’t yet follow me. It’s no good just putting an image online and putting your phone down, especially on Instagram, which is a very reciprocal platform.
Furthremore, Bossert regularly blogs every week not only about what she has photographed but also topics that her clients will find useful and interesting. Knowing what your clients are looking for will give you an idea on what you can blog about, and in return attract new visitors to your website, who may give you new job leads. Bossert is also currently adding something new to her online presence by doing podcasts, which is a new venture for her business and she's looking forward to seeing where it will take her.
Are you a photographer based in a small town and making it big? Tell us your story.