I went to university in a beautiful little town called Falmouth, Cornwall, in the very south western tip of the UK. It’s 6 hours away from London, so not exactly near to the “fashion capital.” However, it’s surrounded by incredible landscapes: rolling hills, cliffs, rivers pouring out into the sea… it’s quite magical. So when I finished my degree, and everyone began to move up to London to find work, I knew I didn’t want that. I was so in love with the area, I wanted to stay put.
There was a lot of doubt involved in that. How on earth could I ever make a successful career out of fashion and commercial work when I choose to live as far away from the big city as possible?! For a long time, I didn’t think it was possible. I tried to do other things, gave wedding photography a go, but ultimately, I didn’t enjoy it. It lacked all the creativity that fashion photography work had. So after a few agonising weeks of confusion, I decided to prove myself wrong. I could make a fashion photography career work in Cornwall.
I spent a lot of time figuring out what exactly I wanted to shoot, who my ideal client, and studying what their needs were. I’m fascinated by social media, and have been since very early on in my career.
Fashion brands need more content than ever before, especially on platforms like Instagram, or blogs. I knew that, so I began to pitch myself to brands I wanted to work with who I knew needed more content. The winner for me? I chose brands that use landscapes like that ones I live around for their images. Most of the time, if a brand in London wants to have imagery taken in the countryside, they need to send a photographer there. I removed that issue, as I was already here. Sure enough, it worked, and by the end of the year, I’d worked with 5 major brands that needed content in my style, and in my area. Not only that, but the work I’ve done with them has raised my profile in the local area, so I’ve seen a surge in interest from local brands, too!
I think that the most important thing we can do as photographers is place ourselves in the shoes of the clients we want to work with. What do they need? How can we make that easier for them? What can we offer the that they can’t turn down? When you spend time answering those questions, your on to a winner.
Self doubt is probably the biggest hurdle. Having the confidence to believe in yourself, to push past those limiting beliefs and go after your dream… thats a hurdle that I think all creatives have.
Pushing past imposter syndrome is always difficult for me too. There is often a little voice in my head which says “Why would they choose to work with you, when there are thousands upon thousands of better photographers out there?!” But you’ve got to silence that voice, and just go for it anyway.
There are plenty of things that I do every single day to get me further in my business. The first is work on my social media presence. I spend a lot of time studying that, figuring out what works, what doesn’t. I engage with my followers, and people who don’t yet follow me. It’s no good just putting an image online and putting your phone down, especially on Instagram, which is a very reciprocal platform!
I have also been blogging at least once a week for 4 years. I share helpful content that I know my ideal clients will find helpful, mixed in with some lifestyle work, and the work I shoot for clients. This all goes back to knowing who our ideal clients are, and giving them the content that will help them in their businesses.
However, the biggest thing for me has been pitching myself. Things really began to take off when I spent time emailing, and getting in front of the people I want to work with. Gone are the days where I wait for someone to get in touch with me… if I want to work with someone, I tell them! I show up! I show them what I can do, and share how I can help them. Almost every big job I’ve got in the past year has been because I introduced myself to the brands, and showed them how I could help them.
If you, like me, want to work with fashion brands, or any brand for that matter, but feel restricted by the location you live in… stop! The world is our oyster, thanks very much to the internet! Never have we been so connected as we are today, and never has there been such a huge demand for beautiful, high quality, professional imagery. Work through who your ideal client is, and then pitch yourself to them. Show them what you can do, and offer them something. Will everyone reply? No they won’t. But some of them will! And before you know it, you’ll be shooting for brands you always dreamed to work for.
About the Author
Olivia Bossert is a UK-based fashion photographer, blogger, and podcaster. You can see more of her work on her website and follow her on Instagram, Facebook, 500px, and YouTube. This article was also published here and shared with permission.