At PDNedu, we ask a
lot of photographers
how they got their
start in order to
into actionable advice.
The rare photographer
may get lucky and get
“discovered” by an editor
early on, but
for most, it’s a grind
to get a steady stream of
There’s something that all successful photographers have in common, however, whether it
takes a year or ten to build a sustainable career: Someone remembered their name. Editors will have different preferences for finding
new talent—some hate emails, some toss out
print promos—but once your name registers
with someone, it plants a seed.
Cait Oppermann, a 2012 graduate of Pratt
Institute’s BFA program, has been steadily
building her client list for five years. She takes
a well-rounded approach to pitching herself, and it’s paid off, with commissions from
Buzzfeed, The FADER, The New Yorker, VSCO
and WIRED. I first learned of her after her pro-mo featuring Rami Malek of Mr. Robot landed
on my desk. Two months later, I saw her work
published in WIRED’s November issue, guest-edited by President Obama, and decided to
reach out to her to ask her about her strategy.
While all photographers’ tactics vary, hers involve some fundamentally good advice.
Building a brand for yourself starts online, so
take a critical eye to what you share to represent yourself.
Oppermann updates her website frequently,
and on the landing page ( caitoppermann.com)
you’ll find a mixed collection of assigned and
personal work to scroll through. Her photography—and the design of her site—gives you
an immediate impression of her work.
Having a recognizable style goes hand in
hand with name recognition. But that doesn’t
mean you have to stick to a narrow range of
subjects. Oppermann says she is “flexible
in terms of subject matter, but consistent
in terms of approach.” Whether she’s photographing an editorial portrait of musician
Mitski or a series of solar panels for a story
on low-cost renewable energy, you can recog-
Getting your first few assignments
is the hardest part.
Here are some ground rules for getting
your work out there.
By JACQUI PALUMBO
INNOVATION HOW TO