building your photography network

Mary Dougherty

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ABOUT mary

I'm a fine art film photographer living in the mountains and traveling to tell beautiful stories

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I started setting goals at the beginning of this year. While not all of them have been successful one that I have confidently checked off my list is getting together with other photographers. Writing that down – both for myself and others – held me accountable and opened the doors for me to get to know a few new people.

When I first started my business I kept to myself. I wanted to just fly under the radar to not offend those that had been in business longer – I was sure they didn’t want to waste their time with me. Likewise, I was not confident enough to answer questions for people who sought me out for answers. It really came down to what I was thinking and feeling and not anyone else.

It took me a while to make friends in the industry and start building my photography network. That should be your second tip off that I was the shy quiet girl in elementary school, the first being that I was afraid to talk to strangers. Now that I have people to talk to, meet with, and trust I have found those relationships so rewarding. There are two things that sum up my feelings on establishing a network of photographers and they are:

do what works for you. This is a huge one. I know now that just because someone else does something, it doesn’t mean I should too. Running your own business is nuanced and personal. There is not a one size fits all solution. It’s so easy to compare yourself to others and not know any of the details of whats going on behind the scenes. Are they really making any money traveling across the world to photograph that wedding? (I didn’t but it was a trip I wanted to go on!) Do they stay up every night until 3 editing? Is what they are shooting what they are passionate about? There are so many things that make all of our situations different – and that’s okay! It is great to learn from others and ultimately make your own decisions, because you should do what works for you.

you need a network. We all benefit by having people we can trust. Asking questions, sharing challenges and supporting each other is a necessary part of life – and owning a business. A network might provide you with tips on the newest product that has helped their business, be there to lend you a lens when you are in need, or even better send clients your way. If you reach out to someone and they don’t want to connect it’s okay, there are other people that do. Likewise spending a little time to help someone can make a bigger impact than you might know.

happy friend making. A good way to start is just by saying hello.

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