I walked through the door, sweaty and breathing heavier than normal. This time, however, I take slightly less time pacing around outside before entering the building. This is the third agency I’ve visited today.
I’m out of breath partially because I rode my bicycle nearly 10 miles and partially because the only way I could get in front of someone at this agency was by cold-calling. Considering I had not done anything seriously athletic in months, I’m not sure why I thought biking around town between agencies was a good idea. Nothing says “hire me” like showing up unannounced, out of breath, and covered in perspiration when you are begging for someone to glance at your photography portfolio.
My family and I moved to Portland from Austin recently, so these long stints without direct sunlight in the Pacific Northwest are unfamiliar to me. Taking advantage of a sunny day, I hopped on my bike in attempt to drum up work. I had relocated here with basically no network to speak of and figured I needed to put my face in front of as many people as possible, physically hand them a business card, then ask who I needed to talk to about working together.
Three of the six agencies I visited didn’t have a way for me to arrive unannounced. They are proper agencies who obviously do not have time for people soliciting portfolios of cats and houseplants, so they avoid the issue altogether by maintaining an appointment only policy. I do not know why it didn’t occur to me to look up each agency’s door policy, but I guess that’s a benefit of being bull-headed and ignorant.
When I couldn’t get in the door, I called. This happened at the very first place I showed up to. I walked around the building for a while before realizing there was no front door, and that was by intent. I called their general office number, briefly introduced myself, and asked who I needed to talk to about showing a portfolio. This first agency was the only one of the three I called that was able to give me a contact at that time; this contact was actually the first to reply back to me after I sent follow-up emails the next week. She thanked me for reaching out, showed my portfolio around to her team, and let me know if something came up we could work on together she would follow up.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how I am pursuing this new season of my career while also searching for work here. When I consider people who have been successful in carving a new path forward for themselves, I look for a common denominator. To me, the consistent theme seems to be passion – passion to make what they see as a better way forward happen with their own two hands.
I think that’s me right now. I am passionate about succeeding at this new endeavor more than anyone else I know.
Honestly, I don’t know if I’m going to get any work out of all these visits and emails to these agencies. Maybe I won’t. Maybe I will. Maybe working with them will only happen way down the road, after some time spent building the relationship. Then again, who knows? Next week I might get a meeting out of all this effort.
What I do know, however, is that even though my legs hurt after biking 10 miles for the first time in months, I’m stoked that one of the teams here in town looked at my portfolio.
Right now, I’m committed to putting my work out into the world. If just one more person sees my work, then that was a successful day. Today I pedaled 10 miles closer to my goal. Tomorrow, I might go further.
Check out more of Christian’s work at his website.
Christian Rudman is a freelance photographer and designer based in Portland, OR. He is a husband, father, and dreamer who desires to help other creatives see a better side of the photographic industry. He cusses like a sailor, loves a clean session IPA, and thoroughly enjoys good company near a campfire.