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“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” – Charles Darwin
As the climate for photographers, journalists, media creatives etc. has changed (mostly for the worse) in recent years, it has forced the respective industries to look at themselves a lot closer and try to redefine who they are, what they do and how they do it. Photography has been no exception, with many photographers struggling in a market where the venues for distribution have all but run dry. This is not really news for anyone.
Recently however, I was trying to come up with ideas about how to start to redefine my ‘brand’ and make sure I was completely clear in who I was and if that’s what everyone else thought I was too. I am not a marketing expert, so everything I know has come from trawling through websites of people who are experts on the subject and trying to pick-up as much as I can.
As I started to write down a list of my recent projects, subject matters etc. I started to see that I had made the natural movement towards multimedia and video. This was not a completely unconscious decision however the image I was projecting was still only that of a photographer and not of someone who was able to also provide multimedia and video too.
In a meeting one day with a client, I mentioned that I did video and multimedia, as well as photography. They turned to be a said, “but your website says you only do photography”. The penny dropped. I wasn’t doing the simple thing of telling people what I was and what I could do right from the start.
I decided to start with a new logo. Something simple and unique which enabled people to quickly see who I was. The only problem was, I was (and still am not!) a graphic designer. I certainly didn’t have the budget to hire a designer just for this project, so I started to think of other ways to achieve what I wanted.
A couple of weeks earlier I received an email from a friend of mine in Beijing, asking if I knew someone who could do head-shots. This friend was Zara Arshad, a designer from the UK. CHECK OUT ZARA’S WEBSITE HERE. It seemed obvious to me that we could do a ‘skills-exchange’ for the benefit of both of us. I contacted Zara with the idea of me providing her with a set of head shots and in exchange, she would come up with some ideas for a new logo. I was delighted when she jumped at the chance.
Over the next week or two, we bounced ideas of each other for her head shots and for my logo and in the end both created something that we were both happy with and both thought was a fair exchange.
The point of this post is this. As our industries change, we need to find new ways in which we can survive and work with one another. As our social networks increase and we become connected more, the number of opportunities are increasing. Of course, many of these connections will be linked directly to increasing our business’s commerce but other connections can lead to the sharing of resources and skills for each party’s mutual benefits. This is especially true if the connection is a friend and the dialogue is naturally open and the exchange is fair and equal.
One thing I must say is that this is not an endorsement of the old “we’ll print your photos in exchange for exposure” addage. I don’t believe this is a fair exchange, at all.
Sharing skills is a different way of looking at our contacts and connections and seeing what we can share for our mutual benefit. Maybe you have a friend who is a musician who could write a simple track for your next multimedia piece, in exchange for some promo shots? Perhaps you have an acquaintance who is a marketing expert who can help you design your next campaign, in exchange for some images?
The possibilities are varied and are there to be found. Just remember, it must always be a fair exchange with both parties leaving the table happy and feeling satisfied that there has been an equal and fair sharing of skills.