Pictures by Kalpesh Lathigra, from his Lost in the Wilderness project.
Next up is Kalpesh Lathigra who very kindly gave me his thoughts on the dos and don'ts of the photography industry after reading Luca Sage's original post. This is what he said.
I sat thinking about this for sometime in between editing work , invoicing, chasing invoices and researching for ideas and cups of tea.!
I regularly get emails from students and assistants wanting to either get work experience possibly assisting me on commissions or the holy grail of how do you get into the industry and get work.
I thought I would start there
Do contact photographers whose work you like , but please don’t get offended if they do not offer you a chance straight away. Photographers like to work with people they know and have a hierarchy in place with assistants who get a first look in. This isn’t because they only want to use them but more to the fact that if they are assigned they need to be with people who know the way they operate. They know their skill base and when time is short need people who can be relied upon. Having said that I certainly do try new people and if it works it work and they form part of my list of trusted colleagues and the team. If a photographer has replied to you please take the time to reply even if they cannot use you straight away. Simple courtesies go a long way.
Keep in touch with them an email once a month to say hello goes along way.
Also If I cant use them and they stick in my mind I will always pass on their details to my fellow photographers.
Challenge yourself……..you are not going to like every job you get but challenging yourself and treating every job with the same respect and effort is vital. It’s a cliché but you really are good as your last pic.
I didn’t shoot celebrity portraiture 5 years ago. Today it forms a strong part of my practice alongside Documentary. How ..? Don’t knock a gift horse in the mouth….I was offered the opportunity to shoot an actor I decided that I would use techniques that were alien to me. I was a natural light person… I taught myself lighting. I surprised the client in as much as they felt I went beyond their expectations. Be yourself when you make photographs, yes we are all influenced by our peers but the people who commission you commission you because they see your authorship.
Do Make Work.
What do I mean by this is, well, I still shoot my personal work and I used to think I was in some sort of race. But it's not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Make good work, research your ideas, then see if you can get someone on board to help finance it; where there is a will there is a way. Don’t think short term gain think long term gain; great personal work always attracts new work. But Do set Deadlines for the projects otherwise you're chasing your tail.
Do make sure when you present your work that it looks great, bad printing bad presentation all stick out like a sore thumb. You want to make the right impression with the clients are investing money and their reputation in you.
If they commission you, it's their neck on the line. I want to add that when you are on assignment you are not just representing yourself but also the client. You mess up once you're forgiven, do it twice and maybe they give you the benefit of the doubt - after that you're on your own.
Do Be confident, not arrogant; theres a difference….a fine line!
Do extend your skills base!
Clients want people who they are confident can deal with any issues bar an emergency. And honestly nobody likes a show off!
Do go and see people. Don't be rude/pushy , listen, learn. A client may not commission you straight away but make the right impression and if they like your work they will commission you. Open your eyes to the variety in the industry. There are lots of different practices and you have got to eat and pay the bills.
Work is work. Go do it.
Do use emails, calls and marketing but do it wisely. Nobody wants to be bombarded.
Do have a good network of real friends inside and outside the industry who are trustworthy, loyal and not fair weathered. Good friends will tell you how it is honestly, you can share your ideas without worrying they will nick them. Unfortunately, just like in life you do get bad apples
Do enter competitions and awards but be strategic. Not everything is worth it. Sort the wheat from the chaff.
Do Be Kind. It is a great attribute, Not being an Operator. By this I think most photographers know what I mean; treat people as you would expect yourself to be treated.
I always recommend friends or people I admire for jobs I cannot do. I always tell my editors of people whose work I love or if they are just great people. Honestly!
Being a Good Human Being really does count. A Bad Rep sticks in a community. Sooner or later it will impact on you. It’s a small intense community; you work it out!
Do have something outside of Photography. I read a lot. I LOVE to BOX!
These other things give you balance and if anything make you a better photographer....
Do go to openings, exhibitions and meet new people but not to the opening of every damn thing. It gets boring talking to and meeting the same people!
Do extend your network beyond the UK. I have clients Worldwide.
Don’t be an arsehole, show off, be untrustworthy and up yourself.
Of course everyone has an ego; keep it in check!
Winning an award doesn’t make you the greatest thing since sliced bread or an excuse to treat others like they are below you. Honestly I know one photographer who only acknowledges me when it’s a full moon.
In all seriousness if in doubt go back to my point about being a good human being!
Don’t Whine all the time. We all can go on how bad things are, but try and be positive.
Don’t be late on a job or not prepared. It’s the same as not having film or a card in the camera. It doesn’t work! Organisation and Preparation are vital.
I have worked in dangerous situations to others where you're cracking up with the talent.What ties these two is prep. Know what you have to do.!
Don’t spend your time on Facebook / Twitter or whatever is the latest trend. Use Social media wisely, .and understand it. I only tweet what is relevant to me and if I like something. I don’t get into too many conversations not because I am rude but honestly my time is better spent. For sure have a presence but it shouldn’t be your life.
Don’t beat yourself up by thinking such and such photographer is doing so well because all you see is their tweets. It will harm your confidence, increase self doubt and be unproductive.
Don’t treat your assistants like they are your servants they are not! You're part of a team!
Don’t show bad work. Seriously. Get a second honest opinion from someone you can trust. Better honest with yourself then BS; people see it a mile away.
Don’t be pushy. Everyone has a life. Picture desks are working desks. Know what days you can contact people. Bombarding picture editors with calls and emails will not get you work.
Don’t Give Up. I have been shooting in this industry for 20 years from being a Newspaper Photographer to Magazines and Contemporary Documentary and Commercial. I have been low and high on success I keep going, challenging myself, making new work and putting aside disappointments. It's tough out there. Those who you see getting the work are because they are out there making it happen - and working hard
Don’t undercut fees and give away your copyright. You are shooting yourself in the foot and everyone else. Understand the issues of copyright, licencing etc
For all those photographers who don’t know my work here's the link
Yes I am a multi award winning photographer …..Yes I have exhibited and Yes I contribute to a lot of great magazines…..!
But you wouldn't know it…..as I keep my head down….! Tweet a bit …! Those who know me know me ! I have been told I am too serious!
In my next life I will be a Boxer.!