A photographer friend of mine recently published a blog post about the wonderful community of Boston family photographers. She talked about how we partner together in friendship and business despite being direct competitors. Having a network of photographer friends has been essential to my not only my business, but my well-being.
However, wanting and knowing you need friends is one thing– going out there and actually making them is another. Being a small business owner can be incredibly isolating and it takes actual effort to make personal connections. As a (mostly) introverted person, I don’t claim to be an expert on networking, but here are 5 strategies that worked for me!
5 Ways To Make Photographer Friends
1. Go Beyond The Double Tap
Do we photographers adore getting a double tap on instagram? Absolutely. A “heart” from a local photographer can feel really validating. But a double tap doesn’t forge a connection. The next time you see a local photographer post something that you connect with, write an actual comment! Even better, reply to their story if you enjoyed it. Get a conversation going! Some of my closest real-life photographer friends began from a simple DM on Instagram.
2. Consider an In-Person Workshop
Online communities are wonderful, don’t get me wrong. Being able to communicate (for free) from your couch while editing is clutch. However, learning in person and the networking that comes from those learning opportunities is invaluable. Do a little googling (or ask in your local on-line community) and see if there is an in-person workshop nearby for your photography genre. Last year, I met a couple ladies at a local workshop and they’ve now become weekly in-person Thursday bagels-and-editing buddies.
3. Use Global Facebook Groups To Meet Locals
This might seem like a strange suggestion, but I actually met one of my closest photographer friends through a large global photography Facebook group. There was a random thread where she shared a location guide she had created. I immediately recognized one of the locations in her pictures and realized she lived close to me. I commented on her thread and we began messaging each other. For those who may feel socially anxious at a large networking event, this approach is much easier (to me anyways!). The great thing about reaching out to other photographers is that I think, for the most part, we all really want to connect with other photographers. This business can be challenging and stressful and camaraderie is essential.
4. Photographer Friends Like Photo Walks!
During slower times of the year (not September-November!), photo walks are really great ways to meet other local photographers and challenge your creativity. Not only are they free, but they are easy to organize because you don’t need anything tangible– just a location to explore. Consider posting in your local groups a date, time, and location. I would bet that you’ll get at least a few people who would love to join. Not up for organizing one yourself? Larger organizations like Clickin’ Moms host one each year- sign up for notifications for the one in 2020!
5. Strike Up a Conversation
This suggestion is the most socially daunting for those who are not natural extroverts. When you’re out in the wild and you spot another photographer, strike up a conversation! You might see a mom herding her kids at the park with her pro camera slung over her shoulder. Chances are, you’re doing the same thing. Say hello! Make a comment about her gear. Go and edit at a new cafe. Notice the person next to you has Lightroom open? Say hello! Make a comment about editing and busy season. We Millennials tend to have trouble with striking up conversations with random strangers but I promise it just might be worth it.