I am super excited to start this blog series where I will be interviewing other photographers and creatives who have moved their photo or creative business. We will be looking at helpful tips, challenges and over all advice. My ultimate goal is to launch a guide for relocating your business which I have not found much info out there yet. If you are a photographer who has moved or who travels a lot for your business, I would love to hear from you. Our first photographer to be featured is the lovely Kamila Harris:
1) Where did you move from/to?
So I moved from the Philadelphia area to NYC in September 2011. Even though NYC is a very difficult place to be a wedding photographer, because there are SO many of us and it’s so hard to differentiate yourself, photography is the only thing that I truly love to do so I was determined to give it my all to make it work. In 2012 I focused on rebuilding my business in NYC and would love to share some of the ways I made it work.
2) What kind of photography do you do?
I offer wedding and engagement photography, I also occasionally do boudoir, and casual family photos, and also just fun couples shoots around NYC for people visiting the city.
3) What are your best tips for photographers considering to move?
The best thing to do when relocating is to join local photography groups, online and in person, go to networking events, meet people! That’s how I started to get to know other wedding professionals in NYC, I didn’t know anyone when I moved here – and within a couple months I was booking second-shooting gigs and getting to know other local photographers, while learning how to find my way around the city and getting to know different venues etc. It was definitely the most important thing I did, even though I’m kind of shy and it was very difficult for me to go to networking events at first, it was the most important thing – and it got easier once strangers became familiar faces. As I was rebuilding my business in a new city and growing my new client base, I was lucky to also find a few assisting jobs, doing things like retouching, blogging, editing, for a few different photographers in the city. This really helped me to learn all about how the business works here.
The second most important thing was to get involved in my local community, offer to photograph community events, get to know my neighborhood. The third – I decided to actually set an advertising budget – I really never advertised before and all my work came from word of mouth, but in a completely new city, with a super saturated market, that was not going to work right away. So I started advertising on The Knot, local online news sites, wedding blogs, local neighborhood papers, etc. Advertising in your neighborhood and your community is key. Somewhere in this process I also started working on my SEO, tagging blog posts, keywording images, making myself easier to find, which resulted in more blog and website hits, which turned into more inquiries and bookings.
Also, I was submitting all my work to Two Bright Lights (http://www.twobrightlights.com) and many of my shoots and weddings got picked up for publication, which was great to share on my blog and Facebook page and helped me to gain some new fans. It definitely took a lot of work, and I have to say 2012 was a tough year – but now in the middle of 2013 I’m happy to say my business has grown by leaps and bounds. When I was in Philadelphia I was shooting about 20-25 weddings per year, and I’m on my way there with 20 booked for 2013 so far, and meeting with lots of amazing couples for 2014 with a few booked already.
The best advice I can give is to keep at it, don’t give up, and don’t expect it to be instant. Keep putting out great work, reach out to other photographers, check your ego at the door, put in the work, keep taking photographs , keep your skills fresh and keep your attitude positive.
4) What do you tell folks who say that Philly is very close to NY and Similar market so could you not be shooting back and forth etc?
It’s true that Philly and NYC are not too far but they are really like two different worlds – different budgets, and the market is so different. I went from a relatively small market where most of the wedding photographers know each other – to a market of probably hundreds of thousands of weddings photographers, literally. While I continued to get Philadelphia inquiries for a while, and I love to travel for weddings and Philadelphia is not too far at all – I understand that it is easier for those clients to meet with someone local, rather than coming up to New York. I definitely feel like moving to NYC is the closest thing to moving across the country even if you’re just coming from a couple hours away, it’s just a totally different world.
5) What is your favorite thing about being a photographer?
Being a part of the most exciting and happiest day in people’s lives, it’s always fun and a great, happy event. It’s the most rewarding and enjoyable job I’ve ever had, it doesn’t feel like work.
Kamila thank you so much for your insights! and here is Some of Kamila’s gorgous work! Check her out online too: