Once the decision is made to actually work within the photography industry rather than simply enjoy it as a craft or hobby, the whole dynamic of how it’s viewed and approached changes. It’s fair to say too, that it’s then, as a neophyte, when you have far more questions than answers.
The good thing is that being at the start means you can take a step and worry less about making a fatal mistake, because there’s just not that much on the line – we could say this is beginner’s luck. And while most people will tell you that to make mistakes is fine, as we learn from them, take it from me – you don’t need to make every mistake in the book, and at the start you can avoid laying a poor foundation that requires more to overcome.
Photographer Ted Forbes thinks such a foundation would be laid if you were to work for free. In a separate vlog, he addresses why he thinks working for free is such a bad idea and you can read about it and our thoughts on it here, but it neatly ties into his latest video on how to get work when you’ve got no experience.
It’s the ultimate catch-22 for anyone seeking work in any field, and anyone who has ever filled out a job application as a student will tell you. Everyone wants you with experience but it seems none are willing to give it to you. Thankfully, breaking into photography is a bit easier to do than say, breaking into private equity, because you don’t need solid-on-paper qualifications to do it, and you can hustle your way to experience.
Forbes discusses how he thinks you should approach this, and surprise surprise, he doesn’t think working for free should be involved. He does think doing TFP or ‘value-for-value’ is, which is odd because that can be construed as working for free since there is no exchange of monetary currency. Possibly more importantly than that however, is the mentality he feels you need to have. It’s one of totally confidence, and I’m inclined to agree. Confidence is attractive. Say anything with enough conviction and people will be inclined to believe you. Actually, there is an element of faking it till you make it involved in what Forbes has to say.
If I may offer some advice on getting work without experience, it would be to identify who you want to hire you, seek out someone who either currently works there or a past employee, see if you can buy them lunch or coffee for even 8 minutes, and feel out your potential client. You could also just research them on your own and produce some work you think is in the vein of what they may like, before approaching them. My two cents, but it’s worked for me.