What Freelance Photography Did For Me At High School


  • It improved my confidence
There's something very particular about photography as a hobby and even as a part-time job: it forces you to constantly forge new relationships, no matter how short term they may be. Meeting people and photographing them means you immediately have to establish a connection, and how can you ever expect to do that if you're shy as a mouse and totally afraid of the situation? You can't! 

You are forced into adopting a confident aura, you have to seem professional and therefore like you know what you are doing. This leaves little wiggle room for being shy. I would say this is a very positive side effect for any teenagers, especially girls, who often are very self conscious and wary of meeting new people.

  • It taught me about the value of 'WOM' marketing
I didn't have a blog while I was at school, except for trying to start one here and there and giving up after a weekend or two. The only avenue I had to advertise my work was my Facebook page (that I still have, click here!). This was back in a time where Facebook's algorithms were a lot more generous to page owners, but it was still impressive to see how organically my fans grew after each photoshoot. This was because people from particular schools would see my images of their friends, and immediately 'like' the page, often then contacting me themselves for a shoot afterwards. 

This is essentially word of mouth marketing and referrals, which accounted for all my business. I was NEVER short of people to shoot (except for when I wanted to do my personal projects that were a lot weirder and edgier, and then I essentially relied on my best mates to help out).
  • It expanded my network
It expanded my personal network. Although you didn't always make friends with who you shot, you would at least establish a connection. Brussels was a small city so I often bumped into people I knew. 

There is no doubt in my mind that photography during high school led me to having the 1,000+ Facebook friends I have today. This is great because no matter what I do now, I have a reading available network of people who I can easily reach out to, for market research, info, advice etc. should I need to.

  • It made me love working for myself
People love to turn their nose up at the fact that I have never had a 'real job' - they're right, I haven't ever had a 'real job.' Aside from doing unpaid internships for a couple of days a week alongside my degree, I've never 'worked' - whether shifts or 9-to-5. But what would working at a supermarket have given me that photography didn't? 

Working at a supermarket would have taught me about responsibility, time-keeping and money management. But photography did ALL of that, and more. If anything, doing something off your own back is much harder and more challenging than working at the supermarket like most teenagers, and it's more rewarding. I wouldn't do things differently as it allowed me to prove to myself how well I can perform when I am invested in something of my own.

However I also now live with the curse of being obsessed with self employment and having it as my ultimate goal - I almost wish I wanted to work in a boring office job just to make life easier! (That's a lie, by the way, it's true what they say: Entrepreneurs work 60 hours a week so they don't have to work 40 hours a week for anyone else!)

Are you a photographer? 

What activities have you undertaken that have taught you about yourself? 

Do you think it's more valuable to work a 'real world' job before you try to be enterprising, or do you think that running your own 'mini-business' is more important? 

Let me know in the comments section below!

You can follow me on Facebook here, and check out more of my photography here.

I also run an FREE online HQ photography resource for bloggers, which you can find here.

As always, thanks for reading and leave any comments you have below!

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