Networking to find clients

How meeting people can get your photography business off the ground

Maybe you’re at that point in your photography career where you’re asking yourself, “Where the hell are all the clients at?” Two-and-a-half years ago I was asking myself that very same question, and rightly so! My first-born was just months away from being born and I was struggling to earn just enough money to pay the rent. My girlfriend didn’t have a particularly steady job, either; things were looking bleak.

But bleak’s too strong a word. I knew I was moving forward, but everything seemed to be moving all too slowly. For the past eight months I’d be cycling round Copenhagen with business cards and flyers, trying to find clients who needed an event photographer, wedding photographer, or just about any kind of photographer. Hey, I can do it all, I screamed from the rooftops. Trouble was, no one was listening.

Things all changed whilst I was doing some part-time work for a Sports Timing company based in Denmark. Ultimate Sport Service always needed temporary staff to help them setup timing systems throughout Scandinavia, so during the summer of 2013 I spent my weekends travelling around Norway, Sweden and Denmark putting rubber mats across the road and making sure the computer they were attached to went ‘beep’ when a runner or cyclist went over them. It was pretty cushy work.

The woman who changed my life

During one of these events I spotted a woman taking pictures at the finish line. I’d seen her before at the Copenhagen Marathon, but this time I was determined to go and introduce myself. It was a simple “hello, nice to meet you” kinda conversation, but I remember her asking one last question before I went back to the mats. “Do you do video?” she enquired.

Of course I said yes. It wasn’t a lie, per se, but I didn’t own a camera with video capabilities, and I hadn’t really edited anything epic since my photojournalism course back in 2009. But, the truth was I knew I could do it if given the chance, and it’s better to say yes and worry about the consequences later. I mean, who wants to regret the things they didn’t do in life?

Over the next few weeks I kept gently badgering her to meet me for breakfast and a chance to look at my portfolio. A couple of months later we sat down over a large latte and a croissant or two and got to know each other a little better. She was impressed with my images, too – no surprise there 😉 – and finally told me the news that was to change my life forever: she was moving to Sweden.

By the time my daughter was born I was freelancing for two major companies – Nike and Deloitte – and my bank balance was looking much healthier. In January the following year I had signed a contract to work with Denmark’s biggest race organiser, Sparta, which meant I could finally turn my back on the other photo company I was working for (who were paying me absolute peanuts).

When you land the good clients, don’t roll over and take a break

This blog post originally appeared over at matthewjames.dk

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