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Photographer
Christopher Sampson
Posts: 59
Yorktown, Virginia, US


So having lived in a fairly small market for some time I've had the distinct pleasure of moving up in the chain and having a name ! I realize now though that this pond is too small for my aspirations and dreams and doesnt hold the jobs or money to support my growth so I'm faced with the horrifying decision of moving to a big city and starting at the bottom all over again. I firmly believe the big job opportunities are in NY, LA, Miami.

How did you make it in the big city? Do you have another job that holds you up while you do photography part time ? 

I knew it'd happen eventually , but I didnt realize when I put my heart into this how quickly things would start to happen. I LOVE photography and I love VA beach ,but the appreciation here is little to nothing for my craft. People will pay 30 bucks for a shoot with mudded skin and blurred everything...badly Photoshopped hips and guts brought in...and no understanding of anything fashion. 

So I guess its time for me to move to a bigger pond. My comfortable apartment will be temporarily traded for a share of a room half the size of my bedroom. The beach saline mist that blows over the sunbathed sand traded in for concrete. I will miss it all..but I have a dream.....

...and I think its about time....
May 15 13 01:30 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Good Egg Productions
Posts: 15,379
Orlando, Florida, US


If I didn't know better, I'd have thought you were working in N.Y. already.  You work certainly has that feel to it.

I say go, but try to have at least a page of leads to get seen right away.  My advice?  Don't have a back up there.  Force yourself to push until you get a foot in somewhere or you starve and have to move back to Va.

All or nothing.
May 15 13 01:45 pm  Link  Quote 
Model
GingerMuse
Posts: 369
STUDIO CITY, California, US


start making contacts prior to moving!!!

(if you come to LA, i'll shoot with ya! wink)
May 15 13 01:54 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Christopher Sampson
Posts: 59
Yorktown, Virginia, US


yes i realize thats important. ITs a http://assets.modelmayhem.com/images/smilies/scary.pngprospect for me though. I thought i was ok with being comfortable... until i became passionate about photography..and then its not good enough anymore
May 15 13 02:05 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
glumpy
Posts: 516
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


First question I'd be asking myself is " What can I offer the market in the cities I'm looking at moving to that no one else is already doing and is there a demand for it?"

All well and good to have the fire in the belly while it's full , warm and content, You'll have a very different perspective when it's not however.

It would seem to me that photographers are not exactly in short supply anywhere so being the type that likes to look at the long term and keep their feet on the ground, I'd be wanting to make sure I wasn't going to get wherever just to discover something I could have found out before I tore my life up and blew all my savings and put myself years behind.

I would suggest at least going for an exploratory
" Holiday" for a week or so and checking things out. No use moving and then finding that getting work where you want to go is harder to get than where you are now.
May 15 13 04:30 pm  Link  Quote 
Model
Nathine
Posts: 144
Scottsdale, Arizona, US


I prefer to be a shadow fish, with migratory channels. I am by no means a super model, but I do make a good living full time at it, have been asked to move to LA and NY, but prefer the quiet life style of were I am. I have been to shoots in Europe, will be doing one in Thailand Feb 2014, and probably if I moved to the center of things could compete on a much higher level.

As most of the pros know, everything in this glamor world is pretty much artificial, and you are only as good as your last shoot. I think it's better to keep them wanting more, than give them everything at once.

I enjoy what I do, and if I can keep busy locally, during down time, I find it much more fun, than running from major shoot to shoot.

Nathine
May 15 13 04:37 pm  Link  Quote 
Model
MissLaurelle
Posts: 3,532
Montreal, Quebec, Canada


I wish I had your balls tongue

I am in the same situation but I just can't push myself to make the move to either Toronto or the USA.

Might have to do with the fact that my bf is still in school over here.
Gotta wait it out.
May 15 13 04:45 pm  Link  Quote 
Model
K I C K H A M
Posts: 14,632
Los Angeles, California, US


Christopher Sampson wrote:
yes i realize thats important. ITs a http://assets.modelmayhem.com/images/smilies/scary.pngprospect for me though. I thought i was ok with being comfortable... until i became passionate about photography..and then its not good enough anymore

I don't think you'd have a problem getting awesome contacts with agencies, doing great tests, etc. But it is hard to make enough money just off of models. Yes, there are people who do it, but it's hard.

What's your business plan?

(This is by NO means a critique of your work, I hope it doesn't come across that way!)

May 15 13 04:50 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Marin Photography NYC
Posts: 7,130
New York, New York, US


Judging by the quality of your work I don't think you have to worry about being in a big pond. There are millions of photographers who can't shoot worth a damn, but you can so get going already!!! Best of luck!
May 15 13 04:51 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
glumpy
Posts: 516
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


Marin Photography wrote:
Judging by the quality of your work I don't think you have to worry about being in a big pond. There are millions of photographers who can't shoot worth a damn, but you can so get going already!!! Best of luck!

I have known more than one shooter that couldn't shoot to save themselves but they always made bloody good money. By the same token I have known plenty whose work would bring a tear to your eye but struggled badly.

Despite how threatened some shooters feel about the statement, the FACT it that in business and making a living, Photographic skills are secondary to business skills.
It would be the shooters ability to get work rather than do the work that would determine their success, especially in a saturated market like NY.

It is also always a sound business practice to test the water before diving in headlong  to something which is why I suggested an exploratory Visit before tearing up roots and going to live anywhere.

It's real easy to tell someone to go for it when it's not your arse on the line. It's a whole different ball game for them to make it work.

If someone is going to do something as a business to make their living from, they need to conduct it as a business and do their homework and apply due diligence to
give themselves the very best chance of making it work and discovering as many as the pitfalls as they can before they commit.

May 15 13 08:17 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
T-D-L
Posts: 10,303
Los Angeles, California, US


Talent plays a smaller role than one might think when it comes to making money.  It's all about your ability to market yourself.  Unless your work is breaking new ground (in other words, you're in various Vogues, S, Z!nk, Harpers, W, etc) you're not going to have to worry about being a small fish in a big pond....even worse you'll be "just another fish" in the pond.  Your ability to get your name and work out there, and be seen by those that matter will count the most.  Testing with agencies?  Don't even think about that being a viable source of income, not when thousands of people are willing to do 99% of tests for free just to build their book.  You need clients.  And until you know what the market dictates, and how to get your work in a position to be seen by said clients, you need to have a day job.
May 15 13 09:11 pm  Link  Quote 
Model
Nathine
Posts: 144
Scottsdale, Arizona, US


Enjoy life, it's too short any how.

Nathine
May 15 13 09:31 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Solas
Posts: 9,486
Toronto, Ontario, Canada


Screw it.do it.
if it doesnt work out just move back
May 15 13 09:59 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Studio MD - Casting
Posts: 1,211
New York, New York, US


I'll post a photo I shot to sum it up:
http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lygtmt1g5I1qiyc7jo1_500.jpg

Expect to work hard to prove yourself and don't expect to get any rewards for a few months/years.

We're not allowed to critique people but I'll say "There are more than enough people shooting work similar to yours that are interning for free and working at cafes and bars to make ends meet." You will need to work hard, be observant, and move swiftly. NY is ALL about relationships so don't expect people to open their door and invite you in when you're knocking while their friend is standing in line before you. Eexpect to work a day gig for a long time UNLESS you have a product that is TRULY remarkable and fresh FOR NYC STANDARDS (not small-pond standards) and a good amount of cash to shoot it w/ NY talent and some good connections.

LA is a different story (but also similar in a way)
May 15 13 10:08 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Paul Tirado Photography
Posts: 4,234
New York, New York, US


T-D-L wrote:
Talent plays a smaller role than one might think when it comes to making money.  It's all about your ability to market yourself.  Unless your work is breaking new ground (in other words, you're in various Vogues, S, Z!nk, Harpers, W, etc) you're not going to have to worry about being a small fish in a big pond....even worse you'll be "just another fish" in the pond.  Your ability to get your name and work out there, and be seen by those that matter will count the most.  Testing with agencies?  Don't even think about that being a viable source of income, not when thousands of people are willing to do 99% of tests for free just to build their book.  You need clients.  And until you know what the market dictates, and how to get your work in a position to be seen by said clients, you need to have a day job.

+1. Yeah pretty much true on all points.  You show a good amount of skill and a willingness to get better but unless someone gets to level as mentioned of ground breaking or undeniable - then essentially if you come to NYC you join the pool of very good photographers in NYC....and yes that is a big ass pool.  How you differentiate yourself is the tough part. 

EDIT: As VOID-VOID put it above (nice to see you back MD by the way) it is a tough game.

May 15 13 10:08 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Studio MD - Casting
Posts: 1,211
New York, New York, US


Paul Tirado Photography wrote:
+1. Yeah pretty much true on all points.  You show a good amount of skill and a willingness to get better but unless someone gets to level as mentioned of ground breaking or undeniable - then essentially if you come to NYC you join the pool of very good photographers in NYC....and yes that is a big pool.  How you differentiate yourself by your marketing is key.

I agree that marketing helps if done properly... but connections and product are paramount and the marketing should be a reflection of the product+connections. People should be driven to work with you, and people should be driven to talk about you. That is all the marketing a good business needs IMO

May 15 13 10:14 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Studio MD - Casting
Posts: 1,211
New York, New York, US


Paul Tirado Photography wrote:

+1. Yeah pretty much true on all points.  You show a good amount of skill and a willingness to get better but unless someone gets to level as mentioned of ground breaking or undeniable - then essentially if you come to NYC you join the pool of very good photographers in NYC....and yes that is a big ass pool.  How you differentiate yourself is the tough part. 

EDIT: As VOID-VOID put it above (nice to see you back MD by the way) it is a tough game.

I'm flying by for the moment.... I'll be gone again soon! wink

May 15 13 10:15 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Marin Photography NYC
Posts: 7,130
New York, New York, US


I have put my "arse" on the line so I can say go for it. I moved to Florida with a part time job lined up and the clothes on my back. I had a ten year old car, I knew two people to help me out for a month or two. I had zero dollars saved.  I owned a home in two years working part time and hustling doing side jobs for extra cash. I left it all behind to start over. I got bored and moved back to NYC with nothing but the clothes on my back once again! big_smile I couldn't be happier really. I am not saying it will be easy or that you shouldn't take the advice already mentioned. I will say if you don't take risk then you will never know what you are capable of.
May 15 13 11:02 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
KurtVdV
Posts: 54
Leuven, Flemish Brabant, Belgium


glumpy wrote:
...
I would suggest at least going for an exploratory
" Holiday" for a week or so and checking things out. No use moving and then finding that getting work where you want to go is harder to get than where you are now.

+1
Hire a room for 2-3 months and network your *ss off!
Work will depend on your network you need to build again.

May 16 13 01:10 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Dan Howell
Posts: 2,217
New York, New York, US


Christopher Sampson wrote:
How did you make it in the big city? Do you have another job that holds you up while you do photography part time ?

It hasn't been said, so I'll say it. Respect the market you are in or want to be in...as in respect the fact that the market's needs are being met without you. What you think you know about a market from the outside mostly likely proves to be wrong once you get inside. Unless you are carrying clients with you or already have clients at your destination, to expect work in the short term is unrealistic. At whatever talent or motivation level you are at, there are more talented or motivated people in the industry already--many of whom are not getting enough work already.

I can only speak about the NYC market, but things are really tight currently. I know highly talented and experienced people who are not getting the kind of work they deserve. People who are either considered at the top level here or have the kind of tearsheets that would make anyone here jealous--and they are the ones who are scraping by. The people who are working are the people who combine the talent for creating images with the talent for creating work. By posing this question here, I would have to assume you are not part of the latter.

I made the transition from a small town to the big city several years ago. It was possibly an easier time then, but I heard the numerous stories from established people that the good days were gone even at that time. I came straight from an internship at the National Geographic Society in Washington DC and had previously had an internship in NYC. I had no illusions about shooting right away and assisted for two years while picking up small tearsheets. From what I gather, the environment for assisting and starting up is even tighter (especially editorial).

IF you come here, come here to LEARN before you to come here to EARN.

May 16 13 05:50 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Hugh Alison
Posts: 2,109
Aberystwyth, Wales, United Kingdom


Yorktown VA is about 6 hours from New York by car isn't it?

You could leave home at 5.00 a.m., Thursday morning, shoot in NY Thursday afternoon and evening, sleep in a cheap room overnight, shoot from 6.00 a.m to 6.00 p.m. Friday, and drive home to VA that night. Catch up with work back home over the wek-end.

Do that every week for 6 months, and you should have built up a business in NY.

With cell phones, websites, and an agent in NY, nobody even needs to know that you are based in VA.


It might sound tough, but there's one big name Brit (forget who, but he does a lot of celeb portraits) who did exactly that when cheap flights to the US started. Jumped on a plane every week, never told anyone he wasn't already based in NY.


I frequently drive from the West coast of Wales (UK) to work in Paris - 600 miles plus the Channel tunnel takes me 12 hours door to door. I live here because I keep horses. Sleep is overrated!
May 17 13 01:04 am  Link  Quote 
Model
Shandra Stark
Posts: 13,612
Los Angeles, California, US


I prefer to be a big fish in a small pond.

I just left NYC, back to Boston, and am making four times as much.  Now that I'm a commodity in NYC, I also have the pleasure of hopping on the bus to shoot there at my full rate.

I know a really, really, really amazing photographer who lives in Wisconsin, who is just killing it.  Cheap rent, flies out and makes his money elsewhere.
May 17 13 01:19 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Jim Lafferty
Posts: 1,927
Brooklyn, New York, US


Just moved from NYC to a tiny pond - it was a great experience and I learned a lot in a relatively short time (I jumped into photography just recently).

In my time there I met a LOT of really talented people. Most of them were struggling. Even people who had books and talent, they were predominantly young guys, living single, in tiny spaces, with as little overhead as possible. And even then... *juuust* making it, which in NYC is about $45-50k/year.

I can't tell you that there's a magic bullet but one thing I think is universal: carry little to no debt, have at a minimum three months living saved up, and live below your means, and with a lot of hard work you can probably do it. As others have said, the last thing NYC needs is another aspiring fashion photographer. The ones who make it big *in general* do so because they assisted someone who as big in their own right.

Just be prepared to make it "by any means necessary" if at all - even shooting weddings, headshots, anything that pays as you get started. Put your ego aside and you might make it happen  smile   Good luck.
May 17 13 08:29 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
sospix
Posts: 21,304
Orlando, Florida, US


Life's a crap shoot  .  .  .  go all in  .  .  .  wink  Do a couple shot gun promotions with some PDF E cards to the agencies (modeling & ad), and potential direct clients in whichever area you're headed, having them see your work before you knock on their door may help get your foot firmly planted in the doorway  .  .  .  also don't dismiss catalog houses, fashion houses, and mags that are located in your city of choice  .  .  .  if "they" don't know you exist, they'll never use ya  .  .  .  offer some "new kid in town" pricing (hell, yer gonna be starvin' for awhile anyway), then push it up as the market allows  .  .  .  get your mindset into self promotion, and hustling business contacts  .  .  .  your work should hold up fine whichever coast you head to, just match the business savvy to the locale  .  .  .  now, pack them bags, and hit the road  .  .  .  wink  Hope it goes well for ya  .  .  .

SOS
May 17 13 09:04 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Christopher Sampson
Posts: 59
Yorktown, Virginia, US


I cant thank you all enough for the real answers and thorough answers you all have given me ! Its soo much to think about and it very much so helps when people who have different knowledge or more knowledge than me give good input thats much more than just a sentence.

I want to thank you all for your input and I've read EVERY comment so far. I realize that being good isnt "good enough" . And that this is the beginning of my journey. I will be doing a couple test runs up to NY, and meeting with anyone who is more knowledgeable than myself that would be happy to give me input or even grab coffee anywhere inbetween here and NY.

Thank you all again so much for the input. This has been great for me.
May 17 13 10:58 pm  Link  Quote 
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