Copyright Matthew Jordan Smith

Guest post by Matthew Jordan Smith

There are only three things in life than can really enhance your life.

1) The people you know

2) The places you go

3) The books you read

Today I want to show how the people you know can help your photography career to grow by leaps and bounds.

1994, I was hired to photograph Vanessa Williams for the first time. Before the shoot I was very nervous as it was one of my first celebrity covers.

Before the shoot I did ton’s of research on her and worked on my concept for the cover. She was in a play at the time called Kiss of the Spider Woman and wanted to capture her energy in this role. I decided to do a shot that felt like her role in the play. I had a spider net slide made before the shoot to use as a background and used a HMI 4k light as my main light.

In my mind this was my shot but my clients were nervous about my idea and wanted a standard beauty cover. Whenever you have creative minds together you have to work to collaborate on ideas. In the end I shot my version and my client’s version. When the cover came out my client choose my version and it started a long great relationship with Vanessa Williams.

Our bond was formed on this day. Since it was my first time meeting Vanessa I wanted to make a great impression so I placed a bouquet of flowers in the dressing room for her with a simple note that read something like, “it’s great to meet you and here’s to a great shoot”.

The next thing I knew I was being referred by Vanessa to other clients. From Vanessa I was referred to Lifetime TV, who became a long time client, then to Showtime, who became a long time client, then to Ebony Magazine, who …… get the idea.

Throughout my career this situation has happened over and over again. Every shoot is the chance to make a lasting impression so do your best every time you put your camera to your eye. Put the time into doing research before every shoot and look for ideas and inspiration so you can give your subjects something to work with.

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