… They haven't realised they NEED me yet.. Simple.
When I graduated I moved down to London with a portfolio, naivety and a goal. To get my work in Vogue. I had spent the last 19 years of my life studying had built up a pretty good portfolio that I was super proud of and was ready to be the next Tim Walker.
I emailed them once… I wrote to them twice, I emailed again. I stood outside Conde Nast waiting to bump into someone important, all that and still no monthly centrefold feature. Whats a gal gotta do? It soon hit me that getting my work published in a prestigious magazine was going to be a little harder than I thought.
Post Uni Blues. (For me this was 6 whole years ago!)
It is something which I have since discussed time and time again with people. You feel like you have spent your whole life studying for something. You have been set goals and targets throughout the years and reached them all, you have seen your work improve, be marked, corrected, you have explained every little detail as to why you took that picture and how you took it. You leave feeling like you are in your creative peak. The only thing you don’t know is that there is a huge world out there full of millions of people who know the real truth. The truth that you have to graft for what you want, that 6 years after graduating you will still be improving and learning, perfecting your portfolio and you will now laugh at the portfolio you once left uni with. That you have to build trust with people and build a collection of contacts you know you can trust yourself. So when you feel like you have done almost everything you need to and learnt everything you can it is a shock to the system to find yourself back at the bottom pile of learning, but this time your learning life, and business.
After I realised Vogue wasn’t going to happen for me right away I got into assisting photographers and studios. Sometimes for money, sometimes not and its something I still do even though I have started shooting myself as I believe I am nowhere near knowing everything there is to know about photography. No one is! Its such a vast topic and there are so many different situations, creative ideas, things to shoot. There is always more to learn!
I get asked a lot whether for photography, it is worth going to university and to be honest I am torn with my answer. In some ways university was good because I built up a great bunch of friends, experienced living on my own and fending for myself, I gained a degree which is relatable for a range of jobs and I had a bloody good time. However photography skill wise, sometimes I wonder if I would… actually I don't wonder, I KNOW I would have become more skilled, more quickly if I had started assisting instead of going to uni. Assisting on shoots allows you to learn a range of business skills you might not otherwise know, it teaches you how to deal with clients and how to run a professional shoot. You learn quick tips like how to wind in wires and leads correctly to avoid breaking them and how useful a magic arm, clamps, and gaffer tape can be. Assisting really is such a good thing to do.
To get in to assisting can be tough, you need to assure the photographer you are wanting to work for that you are helpful on the shoot, you can keep calm in stressful situations and just generally make their life easier. To start with you might find yourself doing this for free. If I knew before I started Uni, that assisting was a thing you could do, which if I'm honest I hadn't even thought of at the time and just followed the college uni graduate path way like many of my friends. The amount I spent at uni could have payed for trips to and from London working and been enough to rent somewhere in London for a little while? Just some food for thought there...
For me the uni route has worked. I am now a successful freelance photographer and whilst my work still hasn't made the pages of Vogue. It is something I am working towards. Everyone has different journeys to photography and there is no one way which is best. Just do what you feel is right for you.
Photos by the fantastic friend, blogger and model: Samio