Building Your Book: Do’s and Don’ts

        When you’re starting out your career, either for the first time or in a new city, it’s important to do a lot of collaborative shooting and build up your network. There’s no by-the-book guaranteed way to build your book and mold your career, but as someone who is always reinventing my career here are some dos and don’ts I’ve learned.

Do:

  • Look for new talent. While working with big and established names is a must, it’s also important to build relationships with creatives who are up-and-coming. The industry is always changing and cycling people through, so when a person has potential, it’s important not to automatically throw them out due to a lack of followers or experience. Many times I tell new younger photographers to build their book a bit more and we will set up a shoot, but it’s important to leave that door open for when their skills are refined and polished.
  • Explore different styles. Keep your options open for different types of photoshoots. What’s currently popular on Instagram is portrait style shots, but branch out and try different styles like editorial or high fashion. Through trying different styles of shooting, you may find a style you like more than what you’re used to. This also shows variety in your book.
  • Build your brand in your city FIRST. Start out building your reputation in the city you will be working the most with. While it’s important to travel, if you don’t have a solid foundation in at least one city it’ll be harder for you to market yourself as you travel. When you have a group of photographers you work with in your city, they’ll have friends who you can connect with as you travel. You can always expand your horizons as you travel, but by becoming a staple in your city, it’ll lead to opportunities (for example, as photographers travel, they will put you on the top of their list to work with while they’re in town).

Don’t:

  • Work with anyone who asks. It’s important to maintain a sense of selectiveness even as your building your book. It sets a high standard for who you will potentially work with in the future and shows you are selective and value your work. Building your book to show diversity, but don’t work with only people who shoot one style or who shoot styles you’re uncomfortable with (i.e. lingerie or nude). There’s an immense amount of pressure to shoot with as many people as possible, but don’t do anything you’re uncomfortable with or you don’t feel you can mentally handle.
  • Lie to work with photographers. I cannot stress this point enough. If you’ve met someone once, it’s okay to reach out to people who they’ve worked with but don’t lie and say your friends with this person. If you lie, word will get around fast and that’s a fast way to not work with any photographers this person works with. It’s also important not to lie about your experience or your clients. All of this information is easily obtained, so lying will only make your career shorter lived.
  • Show up unprepared. Even if there is a stylist on set, it’s always important to bring a basic modeling kit.

This kit includes:

  • Basic white t-shirt and tank
  • Jeans
  • Nude and black strapless bra, with nude and black seamless thongs
  • Foundation that matches your skin tone

It’s better to have more than less on set, even when there is a full crew. By sending out emails asking what you can bring, and helping fill in the gaps for what’s missing, you show that you are committed to make sure everything on set goes smoothly and you are prepared. With regards to being prepared, communication with everyone on set is the most important aspect.

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