I’ve only got one pair of hands… until now!
Finding a solution to doing everything myself has long been at the top of my long list of priorities. I’ve found over the years, that it’s definitely getting easier to outsource some of the work I do, especially when students answer the call for unpaid work experience. Naturally I also receive a lot of requests from amateur photographers asking if I ever need a spare pair of hands. I’m flattered, of course, and wish I could accommodate them all in my growing business. Sadly it’s not that easy, although I do have a small team of guys I go to when I need a second photographer or an assistant to help me out, and this seems to be working out.
In particular, a former Photography Workshop attendee called David looked after the business last year whilst I took a four-week vacation to the other side of the world. David took on several assignments on my behalf and was just a phone call away whenever I needed him. Without his help I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy the holiday, and I might not have been able to go at all! Since then David has started his own photography business, and he often assists me during weddings and portrait shoots. He even speaks Spanish, which came as a great surprise when one of my clients from South America started conversing with him. There was even a client whose grandmother spoke no Engish, only Spanish, and yet David was able to chat with her and make her feel welcome. I should at this point mention that David is German, and therefore speaks that language as well. It all helps.
Inundated with requests
Another guy who’s been backing me up is fellow Brit, Matt Marsh. Matt contacted me a couple of years ago wanting to assist whenever possible, and later told me I was the only one in Denmark who answered his email. It’s unfortunate news, but it probably happens a lot. As I mentioned earlier, I get inundated with such requests, and have started to feel frustrated that I can’t really help most of them anymore. Matt’s timing was perfect, and thankfully we’ve struck up a good business relationship and friendship. It always helps to reminisce with someone from your country of birth, even if that person is 15 years younger than you!
What I like most about Mr. Marsh is his ability to listen and learn, as well as his willingness to crack on with the job. In journalism, deadlines and communication are paramount, and Matt is pretty good at fulfilling both. He’s also gone on to start his own business, and is working hard at networking and perfecting his craft.
Joseph Miller is the third (but not final) name on my list. Originally from Wales, Joe now lives in Malmø in Sweden, yet commutes to Copenhagen every day for work. Joe approached me in a similar manner; eager to get back in to journalism and photography. Since then, Joe has heeded my advice and regularly finds himself photographing live music concerts all around Europe. Not only that, but his writing style is fresh and unique and he’s contributed a couple of articles to my own personal blog.
So this year the four of us decided to become a team and start a brand new venture. The Copenhagen Photographers website is already live, but we are still in the process of ironing out the creases before we start producing regular content. Trying to find ways to fund it is a real head-scratcher, but we will cross that bridge when we come to it. You can go take a look if you want.
Which leads me nicely to the final gentleman in this ongoing search for permanent assistants, and fingers crossed I may have found “the one.” Elijah James and I go back a long way – 19 years, in fact – and have been through a lot together. Maybe one day we’ll get round to telling his full story (I like a good tale, me) but for now we’ll keep it clean. Elijah (or Murdy as I like to call him) and I used to play in a band together, and I was always struck by his forward-thinking approach to our image and marketing strategy. He had ideas the rest of us would never even dream of, and he just looked awesome on stage. One time he stitched a triangular cut of Adidas material from his joggers straight in to a pair of bell-bottom jeans and looked absolutely rock-n-roll.
On another occasion he ordered us to print a bunch of posters for an upcoming gig (one we hadn’t even booked) with the words CANCELLED pasted over the top. His idea was that the poster stood out more with the word CANCELLED on it, and when we replaced them with BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND posters the fans (and soon-to-be fans) would take notice. I have no idea whether or not it worked directly, but in the space of a year we were selling out local venues that wouldn’t even let us play 12 months previously.
A blog you’ll want to visit
As of yesterday, Elijah and I have been collaborating on the Photography by Matthew James project and I have high hopes. His ideas are already producing interesting results, and the goal of making this journal an interesting place to visit now-and-then is at the forefront of the brainstorming process. But don’t expect me to give away any secrets just yet…
The business is now entering its fifth year, and I’m reminded of a photographer I met here in Copenhagen at the start of my journey. It takes about five years to build a network, he told me, so if you can hang tight that long you should start to see major results. Well, I’m pleased to say that I’ve been seeing strong results ever since I opened my door to other people, and sharing my daily business struggles with them. It’s not been an easy process, nor have I always been willing to share all my trade secrets. But to quote Elijah himself, the only person you’re in competition with is yourself.
I trust you’ll all join me in welcoming another Mr. James to the fold, and I hope you enjoy what’s to come.
This blog post originally appeared on www.photographybymatthewjames.com