For a kid who thought he’d grow up to be a professional football player, international photographer Hiroki Nagahiro found beauty in the art of photography and immediately changed his course of life. Growing up in the mountainous and idyllic town of Shimane (Japan), Hiroki experienced quite a transformation when he moved to Melbourne in 2011, to learn visual arts. It was here, in the cultural capital of Asia Pacific, where Hiroki developed an understanding of the flourishing international arts scene.
The love for photography struck him to the core, when he reached the 2nd year of his studies at PSC. According to Hiroki, the realization came about thanks to the effect of being around other aspiring photographers in the college – a community with which he formed a deep attachment.
“PSC wasn’t just about learning different subjects and doing assignments…these are important, but they’re not as important as finding a sense of connection with teachers, students and staff members. Teachers had the biggest impact on me, in fact. They made classes interesting, by talking about their experiences and giving advice, which changed my entire outlook on life. While teaching me the basics, they gave me a chance to do what I wanted to, pushing me to excel every time. Apart from learning about photoshop, lighting, editing and re-touching techniques, I was taught how to connect with people from the industry and I was given tips for dealing and working with other artists. I learnt how to look at my own images in new ways, in order to create the best folio – it was amazing to work with the Print Shop and the Resources Hub at PSC as it helped me to gain that professional edge when producing work and scheduling shoots… I can write an entire book about each and every teacher at PSC!”
Although Hiroki loves Melbourne; mostly because of how lively and easy everything is, he’s found himself traveling to regions farthest away from it! Since graduating from PSC, he has done assignments in Tokyo, Toronto, New York, Shanghai, London and Paris. His schedule at the moment, as a professional commercial photographer, is jam-packed with producing work for high profile clients that he connected with by purely networking. “What clients want to know is what image I can create for them, with my own style.” Hiroki believes in the power of self-branding, as photographers are all entrepreneurs in a big way.
Here are Hiroki’s 4 golden rules for networking in the photography industry:
1. Make your ambitions clear to people you meet.
Tell them about who the ‘future you’ is. In my case, I told everyone that I wanted to shoot fashion editorials for Vogue Paris, and design international campaigns for Armani and Zara before going on to create one of the best art agencies in the world. Eventually, someone will be interested in you and will give you an opportunity to work towards your goal.
2. Create a folio and keep updating it.
Do you ever buy anything without knowing what it looks like? It’s the same rule with your potential clients. You won't get jobs just because you are super friendly and knowledgeable. People want to see what they’re paying for, so showcase your skills in the best way.
3. Find the people you really want to work with and contact them.
If you keep persevering, they may feel inclined to meet you. By the time that happens, you should already have a great folio, which will make the conversation smoother.
4. Have your pitch ready.
Give clients a good reason as to why they would choose you from the sea of photographers out there. Think about defining your style and most importantly, focus on explaining your technique. Don’t talk about prices and pay. It’s about your work first.
Being professional in your approach and preparation will put your techniques to the forefront, allowing people to see your styles and have faith in your folio. For more information about developing your skillset in photography like Hiroki did, read our Full Time Studies Page.