Working as a freelance assistant opened my eyes to many different ways of approaching a subject. Every photographer has unique vision, equipment, lighting technique, creativity and personality. It was also important to learn how building good relationships is very important in the photographic industry. If you lack the social skills that allow everyone to feel at ease around you, or are unfriendly, arrogant and aloof they are unlikely to book you second time round.
I'm not a big drinker and don't go out of my way to court clients that way, but I have built some very good long term relationships founded on reliability, integrity, friendliness and sense of humour, creativity, enthusiasm and giving 200% passion towards every shoot. You really have to make the experience for your client as smooth and enjoyable as possible because no one wants to work with someone who creates problems and is an all round pain. The stories I have heard from clients are confirmation of this, and photographers can certainly be strange characters!
Initially I approached some magazines in London with an eclectic portfolio of images. The overall response was positive and I found myself working for Country Living, Building and Good Housekeeping magazines along with some direct and corporate clients. Momentum was building and all the years of patiently waiting were finally paying off. However, my life was about to make another unexpected turn when my partner at the time decided she was moving to Australia to be closer to her family. I was torn between my fledgling photo business that I'd worked so hard to establish, and a new life and adventure far away from everything familiar.
Needless to say, in Australia's Bicentennial year of 1988, I started living down under. That meant I had to start from scratch again, back to freelance assisting to get a feel for the business there. I think my determination and enthusiasm won people over and once I had a visa was able to take on assignments. This time I was straight into advertising and corporate work as there were many more opportunities for that than in London. I shot for American Express, Kodak and other big companies on all kinds of campaigns, it was a unique and upbeat time for the photo industry.
Next instalment coming up soon.
Image from an old Digital Computers corporate campaign.