The Power of the Network Day

I attended a networking day at the end of March and the majority of images have been sitting on my hard-drive untouched since the shoot. I'd posted some here and there, but this week during a break between jobs I decided it was about time to get stuck in to the editing! Scanning through the images again reminded me just how much I enjoy these open days.

This pic I took of photographer Hannes and model Bernice sums up the fun we had! For those of you who have been wondering about the value of attending one of these events, I wanted to share a few of my favourite photographs from the day and my top reasons for joining in.

Different locations make you think about where and how to shoot

Like most photographers I have my favourite places to hire or use for photo sessions. I know what settings to use, where to place my models, what the light does when. Going to a new location challenges you to look for the best spots in an unfamiliar environment. The great thing about an open day venue is that there will be a variety of places to shoot from.

The three below images were all shot with natural light. I prefer to shoot with natural light whenever I can. I also try and use as many spaces as I can at an open day.

Attending an open day can also introduce you to new locations that you could use for future sessions. After the open day, I hired this venue for two more shoots.

Remember Nina and Kaspar's epic trash-the-dress? Yup, shot up on the same rooftop.

I used one of the interior spaces to do a styled shoot too.

Take the opportunity to try out new gear, or try a new technique

Thinking of renting a lens before buying? Using off camera flash for the first time? An open day is a good time to try out your new ideas. There's no pressure on you to perform for a client, so you can create images pretty much on your own terms.

Having other photographers around is also a bonus. If there is something you're struggling with, ask for some tips. Don't be afraid to chat to people. Be open to offering some advice yourself.

Refresh your portfolio

I always treat open days as a chance to experiment AND shoot new images that will fit my current style to add to my portfolio.

This set of Bernice is typical of my "normal" style.

These below images of Gina and Sjarmante were a few of my "experiments".

Were a client looking to hire me for a shoot with a moodier feel, I now also have these in my portfolio arsenal.

In addition to having my website and blog, I use Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram to promote my photography. Having a steady stream of new content ready to post in the quieter winter months keeps your brand active - even if you are shooting less. Regularly updating your website is also good for Google search rankings.

Grow your network

This one is pretty self-explanatory but it's crucial. You never know when you might need to recommend a make-up artist or call in another photographer for a job. Network days offer the perfect opportunities to connect with other professionals.

I met some really wonderful people on this particular day. The amount of talent gathered in one space was quite inspiring. Sjarmante for example was modelling couture dresses that she designs and sews herself!

Most networking days will require each photographer to bring a model and vice versa, but this isn't always the case. On this particular day I worked with three different models.

Sometimes you might have a few photographers shooting the same model at the same time. The golden rule of open day etiquette no matter what the set-up: be respectful of each others' space.

If you don't, at best you might end up on "candid camera" as Ilan did below. At worst, you'll be interfering with another photographer's session.

To start building my network I joined a few photography groups on Facebook. Look for

groups that are based in your area or are relevant to the type of photography you do. Then keep an eye out for the next opportunity to get involved.

You might just surprise yourself with the results!

Have an event coming up that you would like to share? A favourite image you captured at an open day? Connect with us on Facebook.

Interested in shooting with me? Click here.

View all the images from this shoot here. Comments welcome!

Sadly the venue we used for this open day is no longer available. For similar locations in and around Johannesburg I'd recommend getting in touch with Shayne Robinson - he's your go-to guy for cool spots in the city!

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