Recently I had the opportunity to assist Mallory Morrison in an Underwater Fashion shoot in Los Angeles. It was an amazing opportunity and I'm very grateful to have been a part of it! After experiencing all the details and processes that go into producing a shoot like Mallory's, I compiled a list of questions that I thought would be great followup to the shooting experience. Here are her responses.
What do you do when you’re not shooting Underwater to keep income flowing in?
I focus on diverse ways to sell prints. I sell them in a website in multiple sizes, I have a on-going collection of lower priced work at a store, participate in photo fairs with galleries, pursue solo and group gallery shows, sell rights managed stock with Corbis, and the list keeps growing every year. Earlier in my career, assisting was a great way to supplement my income.
What outlets/resources do you use to market yourself?
My website, Facebook ads, social media- (Facebook business page, Google +, Tumblr, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest), I send out a newsletter every quarter, printed promos to a targeted list of 250-500 every few months, I have photographer profiles on multiple sites like FoundFolios and Dripbook, have videos of behind the scenes on YouTube, work with blogs to publish features and interviews about me and my work.
Do you have to find most of your client base or do they find you?
Mostly people find me. However, I am marketing myself heavily and place myself in situations that lead to getting clients.
What do you find is the most difficult aspect of committing to something so specialized as underwater photography? What is the most rewarding?
The difficulty is that I have to navigate how to succeed without many examples of how to do it. Since there are only a handful of people who are in the same specialty, it is difficult to get advice. There is no set path for any photographer to become successful, but I am limiting myself to the number of jobs that my work would be suited for. On the other hand, as a specialist, when it is the right fit for a job, I am the go-to person for it. There is power in being an expert, but it takes patience and a good business mindset to make it lucrative.
Is there a Photographer that you feel strongly influences your style of work and if so why?
There are 2. Joyce Tenneson has always been one of my favorite photographers. My most recent fine art work is heavily influenced by her work. The other is Zena Holloway. Her strong technical skill and attention to detail, not to mention underwater also, serves as a great example for me.
How long did it take you to feel like you were no longer a struggling recent college graduate and finally considered yourself a working professional?
That is a tough one. I would have to say the end of 2013 there was a shift. I graduated in mid 2009, so about 4 years. I stopped assisting about 2 years ago, which was a hard but necessary shift as well. It is a great place to start, learn a bunch, make connections, support yourself, then as soon as possible make a conscious decision to stop. Otherwise you can be hindering the development of your brand. Being known as the photographer in something smaller verses being an assistant on a big shoot is a better environment to build your business. At least, that has been my experience. It is a tough transition, but as long as you keep the end in mind, you will be able to grow as a photographic business.
If you could go back and do something differently while you were in school that you think would have helped you once you were out of school, what would it be?
I have been learning a lot about the business side since I have been out of school, but there are 5 business classes offered at Brooks, at least when I was there. I wish I paid more close attention to those classes. We would all write those classes off as a lower priority level than the shoot that we had to do right after class for the assignment due the next day. If you have stunning body of work but don’t know or care about the business that you are developing, than it is all for nothing. I am a sole proprietor business who sells photographic services and retail prints. Yes, I am an artist, but how I make a living is based on a clear business strategy.
Thanks for all your great Insight Mallory!
Please check out more of Mallory's work www.mallorymorrison.com