Why You Need Friends

Ever heard the phrase, “Your network is your net worth” ?  In the photography business this couldn’t be more true.  Here’s a few real life examples of how having friends in this industry have “saved my life” more than once.

Case #1.

It was my third wedding. I thought I had downloaded the pictures to my computer since I had already viewed them on screen, so I automatically re-formatted my card, not realizing that I had actually just DELETED ALL MY WEDDING RECEPTION PHOTOS for my client.

Let us ponder upon the grave feeling of disaster that I felt in that moment. The supreme humiliation at my lack of professionalism, and my horrific imagination at the confrontation that I would soon have in trying to explain to my client that I had just lost their pictures. The pictures that could never be repeated. Never re-shot . A once in a lifetime moment that would never happen again, and now were lost forever.

To my extreme gratitude, my discovery actually happened in the presence of another professional photographer friend. When he discovered what I was suddenly weeping and whaling about,  he said,

“Hey! You can get them back! Don’t worry!”

Of course I suddenly perked up. He was on his way to Salt Lake City to the camera store Pictureline, which happens to have some “recovery software”. I called them up, explained my situation, and since I had only reformatted the card, and not yet taken any other pictures, they said that they were almost certain that they could recover them all.

Yes, it cost me $40… but I would gladly gladly pay $40 any day over facing a wedding client to inform them that they would go through this life never having a record of their day;)

Would I have known this on my own?  Nope.  He saved my professional life that day.  Helps to have friends who may know more than you do :) .

Case #2.

Or how about the other time that my card became corrupted and I lost family wedding photos for an important client?  I called up another photo friend to see if there was an option that didn’t involve driving to Salt Lake City.  He directed me to recovery software I could purchase online (for $40).  Same cost, only now I own the software and it saved me a trip.  Would I have known this on my own?  Again, No.  I was saved again.

(See why I am such a promoter of having back up plans?!)

Case #3.

I’m again shooting a wedding and just finishing the bride/groom shots before the hour break before the reception.

My camera dies.

Dies as in no longer working and there is still the reception ahead of us.


I don’t have a back-up camera.

(*Note:  Don’t ever shoot a wedding without a back up camera.  I won’t tell you how many I’ve shot without one, but it only takes once to learn 🙂

The only available store to rent a camera–which would have been the first option–is already closed.  What to do?

I call a photographer friend who also shoots Nikon.  He’s not busy for the night and actually drives to a freeway exit to meet me, switches me cameras–Yes.  He let me borrow HIS camera, which was an upgrade from mine, AND took mine in return to see if he could figure out the problem!  Save my life?  Absolutely.

Case #4.

And what about all the questions that I’ve had about pricing?  About teaching?  About branding and marketing?  How about post processing?  Yes, I’ve learned a lot from online forums, blogs, and books.  But… what a great gift it has been to have great friends that I can email or call and discuss simple matters with that have gone through the same thing?  Some of these awesome friends I’ve still not met in person, but we’re great email/facebook buddies!  We have a great time helping each other out and discussing our current business questions or problems.

Benefits of Having Friends:

1.  Two heads are better than one.  By bouncing ideas off each other you can usually have greater results and help both parties out.

2.  Referrals?  Are you booked for a certain date a client needs?  How nice to be able to offer a referral that you trust.  This makes you look better as a professional, and indeed it helps your friend!  AND… it invites reciprocation!  When your friend is booked, they have a great referral coming your direction as well.

3.  Learn from others mistakes.  We can help each other avoid pitfalls or mistakes we’ve made by sharing our experiences with one another.  This helps improve an entire industry.

4.  Friends are fun!  Several of my photography friends have become more than “photography” friends.  We’re able to rejoice in the cool personal things that happen in each of our lives, and be a support and friend for things OTHER than photography.  Friendships enrich our life, and make us better people.

How do you find friends in the industry?

For those that are just starting out, it might seem sort of daunting to make friends with other photographers.  How do you do that?  Here’s a few things that have worked for me.

1.  Email a photographer you admire!  Tell them what you like about their work or even favorite images they’ve created.  Take the time to identify with yourself and with them what you love about their style, their creativity, their concepts, their processing, etc. and tell them!

Then, tell them you’d like to be friends!  (yes, its bold and upfront, but I have friendships that started out this way!)

2.  Contact another photographer you admire and ask about possibly shadowing them on a shoot.  Many photographers would welcome the option to have an assistant for the day to help be an extra pair of hands.

3.  Join organizations like PPA, or IPPA.  They have seasonal meetings and conventions that are a great opportunity to meet other people with the same interest.  (I have to admit that I’m not actually a part of any of these organizations, but I have heard great things.  Perhaps someday when my life slows a bit I’ll look into it.)

4.  Take a photography class or attend a workshop.  This is a great opportunity to meet like minded people who have the same interest, have the same questions, or maybe have experiences that you can both benefit from.  One of the things that I have loved about my photography classes that I have taught, is the awesome camaraderie that has developed among my students!  They become friends!  Many of them have networked with each other!  There are plenty of workshops available as well that offer this great opportunity.

To all my photo friends out there (you know who you are) thank you for all the ways you have blessed my life!  I’m a better photographer because of our conversations, our emails, our experiences together, our debates, and more.


Just like any relationship out there, there must be an equal give and take.  If one goes about developing a “network” simply based on what they can get from someone or how they personally can benefit, it likely will not be the experience that you are hoping for.

There are many things in my education, previous websites and blogs, as well as marketing that have been obtained through trade.  Although I didn’t pay money for these services, I gave a valued service in return so that both parties benefited.

To continually take, take, take, from someone, can cause the giver to feel used and resentful and likely damage an existing relationship or keep a relationship from developing.  If you want to build a network of friends, think of some ways that you can help that person.  Think of what you can offer to someone else.  (Maybe its not even photography related–in many of my cases it wasn’t.) If you would like lessons or tips or help from someone, think of something you can do in return.

***Never ever expect things from someone, or feel entitled to obtain things from someone because of an existing relationship. ( Maybe the person you want to be mentored by and learn from is a family member, or already a close friend, or a neighbor, or an acquaintance, or goes to the same church, or is in your yoga class…)

Please do not allow yourself to feel entitled to benefit and learn from all their knowledge and their experience–gained through hard work, money spent, trial, blood, sweat, and tears–just because of an existing relationship. Sometimes, these relationships are even more important to feed.  Think of how you can give something in return. Think about what you can do to help them in exchange for them helping you.

Many people will be happy to share and develop a friendship initially, and will continue to be happy in giving and sharing, when they are reciprocated in their efforts.  We can all be creative in how to give and do something for someone else. Think “Win. Win.”

Your network is your net worth.