Networking is essential in this day and age and I can say with confidence that without it, you won’t survive as a photographer. I am not saying that to scare anyone off or make you feel as though you aren’t going to make it because you don’t have a million connections but it is all part of the process and it takes time to get to the point where you have a solid contact list. One of the most important things to keep in mind is that you are in complete control of your own personal network and need to constantly be taking advantage of branching out and putting yourself and your work out there. How does this apply to BMX specifically? Well, if you are interested in pursuing BMX photography at any level then obviously you need riders to photograph and the more people you meet, the more opportunities you will have to shoot. Let’s get started.
By definition networking is “a supportive system of sharing information and services among individuals and groups having a common interest.” It’s a pretty easy concept to grasp so the most important thing for you to do is to start taking action. If I were to look back to the very beginning of my adventure in BMX photography I would have to say that I owe a lot of where I am simply due to the fact that I have not only been shooting BMX for quite some time now, but I have also been riding for much longer which has lead to me meeting a lot of people over the years. The point is that I have essentially been networking long before I really even understood the importance of it. Every time that you meet someone new it could very well lead to a great opportunity and you just never know. Just a basic contact is where it all starts so don’t ever over look the importance of a simple email. It also helps a lot to make an effort to be easy to work with. The easier you are to work with, the more stoked that your client is going to be which in turn will lead to them telling other potential clients about you which means more work for you and at the end of the day that is the goal if you want to be a successful photographer.
What is the best way to go about making those important connections and contacts? It’s easier than you might think. You just need to be out doing your thing, traveling when you can and meeting as many people as possible. The more riders that you meet, the more riders that you will be able to potentially shoot photos of. The more you shoot, the more that people are going to see your work and what you are capable of and the more your name will get brought up and of course as a photographer, the more that happens the better. Little things as simple as having a Facebook account and Twitter account will make a big difference. Obviously social networking is a great way to meet people, share photos and keep your name in the mix which is important when companies are deciding on who they want to hire to shoot an ad, or bring on a trip, or have shoot their catalog. You get the idea. One good job leads to another and if you have what it takes and constantly keep pushing in the right direction, eventually people will take notice.
At the end of the day, you are the one that is control of your own network. Don’t be afraid to reach out and make a push to share your work. It may seem like this is all pretty obvious but it’s actually something that a lot of people don’t take as seriously as they could or should. It essentially comes down to the saying “if a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” Basically if you’re not making a push to meet new people and make those new contacts then it’s not just going to happen for you. Also, if your work isn’t out there for people to see, how are you going to get your name out there? Don’t sit around and wait for things to happen to you or wait around to meet the right person. Get out there and make the most of every opportunity that you have. I have been lucky enough to build up a pretty massive contact list within the BMX community over the years and I owe a lot of where I am at to that. Without those contacts and the ability to put them to use, I would be nowhere. Take it for what you will and if anything I hope that this lights a bit of a fire within some of you to get out there and make that push in the right direction.
Now that we have all of that out of the way I am sure that some of you are anxious to see who the winners of the first TTL contest are so I am going to show you the top three and give a little explanation as to why I picked each photo. But before that I just want to give a huge shout-out to Fit Bike Co. for hooking up the sick prizes and making this first contest one to remember. Also, I want to thank all of the loyal BMX Union fans that took the time out to send in their best work. We clocked in over 100 entries and narrowing them down to the final ten was hard enough but deciding the winner was downright painful! It was a close battle for sure and Kurt and I really took our time and put some thought into the selection process and this is how the top three broke down.
Third Place- Dennis Katinas
The reason that I was so stoked on this photo was the fact that it looked like everything about it was planned out and well executed. The angle is unique, the perspective is rad and the rail in the foreground playing off of the other blue rail is what did it for me. Also, the yellow flowers help balance the overall feel and your eyes really take a moment to jump around and explore each section of the photo which is always a sign of a good image.
Second Place- Jacob Manes
This photo ended up in second place for reason. It has a sick feel to it and the colors all work really well together. Another thing that really pulled this one to the top for me was the spot itself. That spot just oozes character and I love the way it was shot long but pulled back to really set the mood and show the entire scene. Also the lighting is on point and it’s sharp. Two key factors in creating a solid photo.
First Place- Mark Karau
The funny thing about choosing this as the number one shot is the fact that it was one of the first submissions that I actually saw and right away it grabbed my attention and in my head I kind of joked about this one winning. Skip ahead to the final selection process and I felt the same way when I saw the photo and that is how I knew it was my favorite shot of them all. The composition is on point, the table is rad, the spot is unique and the choice of black and white makes sense to me. I really don’t think there is much more that Mark could have done to properly show this trick in a better way and that is why he got the top spot.
Again, thanks to every single person that sent in a photo and honestly, I was impressed with the amount of rad photos that came out of this. I took some time and narrowed all of the entries down to ten so show the finalists some support so take a minute to check out the gallery and see if you or someone you know made the cut.
Be sure to check back next Wednesday for the eighth edition of Through the Lens and as always feel free to leave any questions in the comments section or email me at [email protected] and I will hit you back as soon as I can.