Here is the
thing, for people living in LA the majority of clients you meet outside cold calls, and having your book called in because someone saw your work somewhere else, is craigslist.
Some of the clients I have met on craigslist include editorial clients. Small magazines, (circ 50,000) and below will sometimes advertise on craigslist because they just don't know where else to look for photographers. They have an editor who not only does all the layout, and proof reading, and creative direction but who also might have to be the writer for the story they need a photographer for. They don't have time to call Art Center and see some alumni work and then hope they can find someone willing to work for a low editorial rate whose work they also love.
The above shot is from an editorial in Pasadena Magazine. I "hooked up" with the editor there by answering a craigslist ad. Crazy right? They don't pay much, but they got us an amazing location in the boneyard for the shoot, and the designers willing to let you pull for a boutique magazine are almost any designer you could wish for.
Some of the other clients I have found are amazing fashion designers putting together their first small lookbook. Again, this is very rewarding work for the right client because you get to combine working with clothes so new no one has seen them, with beautiful locations that designers usually get through friends of friends.
Jobs you might find
Maybe you are free next weekend and don't have a job yet. Getting a $400 second shooting 8 hour wedding gig from an out of town photographer might not be that bad? They use craigslist because they don't know anyone out here, and they need someone good that they can book long distance. Craigslist is perfect for that.
Maybe you use craigslist to score a $500 day event gig for a big brand like Cetaphil who is hosting a table at a gifting suite?
Speaking of gifting suites, they almost all book their new photographers through craigslist. Those gigs pay between $250-$500 a day AND usually the brands you are paired with send home some product with you. $200 perfume for your girlfriend is almost worth having to pretend you watch Pretty Little Liars or 90210.
Want to shoot concerts? I know of several specialty magazines that book concert photographers through craigslist. Some even are national magazines and maybe they just don't have someone in the city that the concert is in so they need a one off, but that one off could lead to steady work. And shooting concerts pays crap, but most concert photographers do it for the music and if they are good enough the relicensing through their agency- not the initial fee.
Are you just starting out? I have more than once booked $300 assisting gigs off of craigslist. A photographer can post an ad and wade though literally dozens of qualified applicants with great references within an hour of posting a casting call. Sure for the better money you need to know how to work every type of grip known to man, but for a smaller day rate ($10 an hour) they really just need a warm body to hold a reflector. You learn and get paid.
During certain months there is the red carpet work. Smaller films, TV premiers, gifting suites, high end parties- they all need house photographers. And when they get turned down by Getty, they need to find someone to make their guests feel special, and beef up the productions facebook page. Sure they only pay a few hundred, but it is probably the easiest work you will do if you know how to do it. But make sure you know how to do it, cause if you mess it up you will be wishing you had screwed up all the film from a destination wedding. PR people are much worse than brides when disappointed.
$1200 lookbook, not the greatest pay but limited licensing and a nice client. Sure, why not?
In 2006 I used to have steady work shooting cheerleading teams for $250-$400 a day per diem. Every Sat and Sunday during the cheer season. Exhausting, but knowing that I would have between $2000-$3200 a month for three months straight, worth it. Found it on craigslist.
The fact is that there is a shit ton of crap work on craigslist. Like being a tosher, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tosher,
it can be dirty and degrading to wade through all the literal crap to find the shiny new farthing. But it doesn't make you an automatic loser just because you get some of your work each year from that
Craigslist is good for employers, and they know it too
For mid level employers in the photographic industry it is much easier to post an ad on craigslist than to wade through dozens of portfolios on a site like MM, or APA, or well you get what i mean. By posting an ad they know the people responding want to work with them, so they are already ahead of the game and only need to choose whom they want to work with.
For photographers it is the single most visited website when looking for people to round out your team.
For the low ballers and bullshitters, they get flagged off pretty soon, and in the meantime receive a ton of hate mail. You will see 100 bad postings for every good posting, but that is true for any profession looking for work on craigslist.
Here is an example of a gig that isn't the best ever, but not bad for the money being paid and the notice being given.
Event photographer - $500 (San Francisco)
We need a sports event photographer this Saturday. Must have Canon 5D Mark II/III (or 6D/7D). There will be a total of 3 photographers shooting together as a team to cover the event and I need 1 more solid photographer. If you're interested and available, please send me an email with a brief overview of your qualifications and experience along with a link to some of your work for review.
Location: San Francisco
it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
Unless you are billing in the hundreds of thousands each year craigslist is still a useful tool. Especially in a major metropolitan area, like Los Angeles County. Sure I only make a small fraction of my living off of gigs I find on there, an event here, a lookbook there, some red carpets, maybe some headshot work, but when doing my taxes at the end of the year I am 5 or 6 thousand ahead of where I would be without it, and I not only get the cash I get the images too.
Now be aware, just like if you work in a preschool, if you look on craigslist for work regularly you are going to get exasperated and need to vent about how the whole world is just so darn aggravating and why can't people be less stupid
. The world isn't really that stupid, and as long as you keep your ratning to places like home or MM no one in the real world will know how you feel for those few moments when you just want those sticky hands off your jeans for one gosh darn minute, god I hate all children, they are just the worst
or other dark and exasperated thoughts; but if you stick with it, and try not to rant more than once every 2-4 months, you might just find the rewards to sifting through the muck of craigslist is worth the musk itself.
If nothing else it sure does beat working at Spaghetti Factory for a living.