My response to an opportunity that arrived this week...
Thanks for the heads up on this. I don't have any photos that fit their brief, though if I did have any, I would have to make the organisers of the festival aware that I've been photographing for many years now, I've paid my dues as far as freebies go and I don't really need anymore credits or opportunities to showcase. A usage fee would be nice, I have bills to pay, just like everybody else.
A couple of weeks ago, I came across a call out from someone who requested to use some photographs, it turned out I had some images that were suitable for this person's project. I responded to this and I sent over some photographs for free. Why so? I hear you say. What's so different from that request to the one the Liverpool Literary Festival has put out? Well, I'll tell you why...
This person is a fellow creative, they've been on my radar for a while now and I really like their work. They're young, driven and focused. I like that. It's people like this who inspire me. The connection has been made and at some point, our paths may cross again and a chance to collaborate may arise. This is the kind of opportunity that gets me excited to create.
Now, the Liverpool Literary Festival, this doesn't excite me and here's why... Suppose I had a photograph of Upper Parliament Street to accompany the Kenneth Allott piece. How many people are likely to come across this photograph and think, "What a great photograph of Upper Parliament Street. I think I'll make the effort to seek this photographer out and offer them some paid work." I can tell you how many people will respond this way, none.
Submitting work to a festival for nothing but a name credit has opened zero doors for me, it hasn't even made me any connections. I know this as I've submitted to similar festivals many times. So I'm struggling to see how this is an opportunity for you to help us photographers out.
What I have discovered, is that opportunities show themselves when you connect with people, nurture relationships, have respect, follow up, show up, take an interest, make time, do the work, have a presence, be consistent, be transparent, authentic and whenever possible, be the one who buys the coffee. It's a combination of all these things that has got me paid work. There's no secret to freelancing, it just takes a long time to build relationships.
Of course, I still do freebies. If I see something that could potentially produce a nice body of work, I'll ask if I can come and document it in return for free photos. Though it has to be something that I want to do. It needs to excite me and there's plenty that does, it keeps me match fit.
I have an exhibition in a couple of weeks, I've attached the details in case you're interested. I'd be very happy to meet. I could buy you a coffee and as you can tell by now, I'm very fond of the word opportunity and who knows, opportunities may arise from that connection for both of us.
Thanks again for thinking of us photographers.