Unless you’re striving to be one of the big box photography studios, chances are you decided to become a photographer because you love photography, love being creative, and want to see how far you can take your art form. It has nothing to do with mass production; you want to give each of your clients something special they will cherish forever.

If that’s the case, you’ve probably come to realize there are only so many hours in the day, and only so many opportunities for you to take on new clients. If you’re a wedding photographer, you can only be at one wedding on a Saturday. If you’re a commercial photographer, you can only work with one client on a catalog shoot per day. And so on.

Yet there always comes a time when you’ll have someone that loves you and really wants to use you – they just can’t fit into your calendar. Then what?

That’s when you rely on friends. Over the years we built up our “rolodex” with the names of a dozen or so photographers that we knew their work, we knew their consistency, we knew their customer service level, and they were great friends. So we can refer them with no doubts whatsoever. We’re all over town now, some in photography and some not, but we still love getting together and talking about what’s possible in the business world. And last night was one of our yearly get togethers.

Why do you need friends in the photography business?

1. They can help you set up your business. When we met our first photographer/mentor, we had just started out in the business. We were at a bridal fair, and ended up across from another couple also in the business. They came over and looked at our work, went back and said to themselves “they’re good but WAY too cheap”. They asked up out to dinner, and the rest is history.

2. They can be your sounding board. Sometimes you come up with a crazy new promotion, and you’re just not sure if it will work. A friend or family member won’t know – they aren’t in photography. But a photography friend will give you an honest opinion, and even help you refine it.

3. They can be your traveling buddy. Really want to go to that conference, but can’t quite afford it? Sometimes you can get discounts when you bring two – and you can always share a room for the added discount on travel fees.

4. They can give you great referrals. When we had a potential client call up and we were booked, we knew each other’s schedules. With a simple check of the calendar, we could make a referral or two, talk up the other photographer, and give great reasons why they should book quickly if they really wanted a great photographer.

5. They can help you into a new direction. Even last night after knowing each other for years, we discovered several of us are heading into new directions with photography – travel, stock and fine art. Once again, we find ourselves forming a group that will meet more often to discuss potential directions and possibilities.

6. They can be your backup. When I was pregnant with my daughter, she was due February 8th. We had a wedding booked for Valentine’s day – 75 miles away from our home. She still wasn’t here that day, so a friend tagged along with Andrew in case I called him. She didn’t make her appearance until February 19th, but it was so nice having a friend to rely on – just in case.

7. They can be your resource. Meeting with a client this afternoon, and discover you’re out of a frame/mat/paper? If you use the same supplies as your friends, its easy to buzz over and pick up what you’re missing. Need to know the name of a great lawyer/accountant/printer? Give your friends a call – they can point you in the right direction.

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