WORDS // SONYA SINGH & TIM KOTHLOW
BY SONYA SINGH
Say yes with confidence, then Google with abandon.
It’s the 21st century’s version of “Fake it till you make it.” Not only should you always take jobs you’re qualified to do (we don’t get to be choosy at this stage of our careers), but also agree to opportunities that are just outside your comfort zone. Then, Google your way through it at home. Of course, I can’t Google my way through your kidney transplant (but thank you for asking me to do it — so thoughtful), but I can certainly spend all evening on industry blogs and YouTube to learn how to assist you while shooting a wedding, for example, even though it’s not quite like my usual assignments within live music.
It’ll set you up as a go-to, get-the-job-done person, whom employers love, and you’ll expand your skillset in a way that’ll pay off in the future. Don’t even give yourself the chance to be scared.
It sounds so obvious, but you’d be surprised at the impact of a handwritten, personalized thank-you note in 2016 — not a text, not a Facebook message, not a shout-out in a tweet. Your life as a freelancer will include endless texts and emails, though, so keep in mind that electronic communication is an affectless medium. We’ve all stressed over the intended tone of an ambiguous text, so take special care to keep your tone affable and appreciative in writing. It will almost certainly lead to more and better opportunities down the line.
By extension, never burn a bridge. When you get rejected, resist the urge to fire back a snarky email. It’s a small, small world.
Find a niche.
You’re an expert in something. If you don’t think that’s true, look to the hobbies and interests you never assumed could make you money. I play instruments, but I know I won’t be making shelf space for a Grammy any time soon. By choosing to write and photograph music, my editors know exactly who to contact when they have a music-related story in mind. You build a name for yourself, develop expertise and get to enjoy what you’re writing about, to boot.
Know what you need.
Asking for the particulars of your assignment — word count, photography shot list, deadline, whether the publication uses a particular style guide — can save you and your editor from headaches that could kill your future with that outlet.
Even better, ask if there’s anything in particular to avoid. Your editor has seen enough to know what’s been done a million times. Think of that scene in The Devil Wears Prada where an icy Meryl Streep cuts off a young fashion editor while she’s suggesting floral accessories for an April shoot — “Florals? For spring? Groundbreaking.”
BY TIM KOTHLOW
Fake it til you make it.
Confidence is key, and so is personability. The first moment you walk on set for a photoshoot is when all eyes are on you. The way you present yourself and how you talk to everyone determines how the remainder of the shoot turns out. Radiate confidence and the client will be confident in you. Confidence makes a client confident about you. Personability makes a client comfortable with you.