Wednesday, February 15, 2012
CHIN UP BUTTERCUP
This industry is tough. We all know that. At some stage or other, each of us has experienced rejection, bitchiness, ignorance and loneliness. It is very personal as our work is a reflection of ourselves and our taste, so it's hard to separate business from personal. Judgement is often subjective as most clients and people outside of your particular discipline, don't have any technical understanding of skill or application. There is a difference between good and bad makeup/hair/photography etc. Not everyone can do it, otherwise everyone would be successful.
It is also an industry based on relationships...on set, people would rather work with someone that they know, or like or get along with....sometimes regardless of skill level. People grow up together and in a small, cliquey industry, they will end up working together. It's difficult to break into the industry as a newcomer and can be incredibly disheartening to have no one to talk to, discuss technique with or offer advice. If someone doesn't like you (for whatever reason they choose) they tend to influence people around them and it's hard to break out and work with new professionals.
Having said that I think these problems seem to intensify in a smaller, commercial market. From what I've seen online through blogs, twitter and facebook, international professionals are just that....professional. They work together, share skills and develop friendly relationships because they realize that a strong industry benefits everyone. Bad blood and hardships seems to permeate quickly through our industry...it's like karma osmosis...it brings everyone down.
I would like to create an environment of sharing, confidence and kindness. I often get emails from new creatives, trying hard to bust into the industry, filled with ideas and eagerness and I like to meet new people because enthusiasm is contagious and it makes me passionate about my work and our industry as a whole. Whenever asked about what products I used, or how I created a look, I'm happy to share...it's good for everyone. I'm confident in my skills (although I know I still have a lot to learn and a long way to go) and I know I am professional and reliable on set, so I don't get threatened when sharing info with people.
I don't believe that any client "belongs" to any particular creative. Sure, it sucks when you lose a client but before you get depressed, ask yourself if there was anything you could've done to be more professional or offer a better service. If not, it probably comes down to the politics and personal relationships and unfortunately that is the nature of our industry. Don't take it personally, pick yourself up and get back out there. Work harder, smarter and hone your skill.
Our industry is all about business after all. You're never going to make it if you don't have the usual business skills, being a creative isn't an excuse and clients expect the full package:
1. Organizational skills (being on time, available to contact at any time, timely responses to emails etc,)
2. Admin skills (proper invoicing, being literate over email etc)
3. Marketing tools (business cards, website, social media etc.)
[editor's note: this is a particular bone of contention for me. How on earth, in an industry based solely on your portfolio, can you expect to get booked without a website? How can you network without business cards? It is not "uncool" to network...it isn't begging for work, it called being a business.]
4. Sales (networking skills, being able to manage yourself in meetings, knowing when and how is appropriate to approach clients etc)
So before you compare yourself to anyone else in the industry, make sure your business is set up correctly, that you have all the tools you need and that you not only have the creative skills to do a good job, but also the business skills to keep clients happy and coming back.
And if you ever feel like someone is gunning for you or if the industry is bringing you down, put your head down and work. Do a shoot that inspires you. Remind yourself why you love your job. Work with people who make you smile. Before you know it, the haters are a distant memory and you will have a portfolio you are proud of. No matter how long you've been in the industry, you can always learn something new, meet someone new and do better work. Your portfolio should be in a constant state of flux and improvement. If you don't feel the need to get better and learn more, if you don't feel challenged or inspired...give up your seat kiddo, you're on the wrong bus.
Moral of the story? We're in this together...let's make life easier for each other, not harder.
Oh and if you want to talk, need advice, would like to offer me some or have something to add.....drop me a line :)