10 Things Freelancers (Photographers & Filmmakers) Should Do in 2017

Marathon swimming, East River, New York City

Be optimistic – I’m going to start with the hardest one of all, because it’s really difficult to be optimistic these days. But I find that if I can maintain a positive attitude and turn my thoughts to what is possible, I actually open myself up to more opportunities in my life, instead of creating more roadblocks.

Be open to possibilities. – Be more flexible in how you perceive things and who you are. Change is always happening, but it’s usually gradual. Most people don’t take notice until “change” forces their hand to act. It’s always better to be proactive than reactive so embrace “change” as an ever-present fact of life that creates opportunities for those who are open to seeing them.

Collaborate – Photographers are very independent creatures and collaboration is not part of their norm. As the “photography” business continues to change, photographers will find that collaborating with other artists will make their own businesses stronger. There is so much more to running a business than there used to be. While social media marketing has opened up numerous possibilities, it can also be overwhelming to a solo photographer. You can’t do it all. Work with people who can bring out each other’s strong suits.

Diversify – I’m not quite so sure why so many photographers are so rigid in how they define who they are and what they do. Having a “style” is great, but the trick is to not to be so narrowly defined by that style, so that when styles change, you don’t find yourself obsolete by your own design. It’s kind of like being type cast, where your audience or your clients can only see you in one way. Diversifying might be creating a whole new niche of your business. I recently created a business niche that is more geared toward the retail market. We create high end “Ken Burns” style family biography videos to preserve a family’s legacy with personal interviews with ones loved ones combined with old photos and home movies.

Concentrate on “the story”– I had the opportunity to speak with a lot of still photographers and filmmakers this past year and I began to notice a difference in the conversations I was having with each. Most times, filmmakers would be telling me a story, whereas still photographers would be telling me how they executed a photograph, or essentially telling me the “back story” of the creation of the image. It’s all interesting but “the story” is the bottom line – if that doesn’t come through to the viewer – the rest doesn’t matter – including how it was executed.

Be authentic – be true to yourself. That means that you have to trust your gut instead of second guessing it. This is hard, especially when things don’t always work out the way you had hoped. Step away from the “noise” and listen to the voice inside.

Fail more. – Rejection is a tough pill to swallow but it usually means that you are either pushing yourself to try new things, you are too far ahead of your time or it just wasn’t meant to be. If you look at successful people you’ll see that most have had failures and rejections in their lives but they stuck with it – instead of letting failure defeat them.

Self-Initiate more projects. – I don’t like to call non-commissioned work, “personal projects”. That co notates that there is no monetary value, and these days just the opposite could be true. With more and more lopsided contracts being presented to photographers for commissioned work a photographer has a better chance to make more money and keep ownership of their work by creating self-initiated projects. But they need to be prepared to work hard. We’ve been working on a project entitled “Like A Woman” where we shoot environmental portraits and a short video about women who are working in traditionally male professions. It is a subject I know all too well after working in the career of photography and now filmmaking my entire adult life.

Forget about the past and learn from mistakes. – You can’t change the past but you can learn from it and then, move on. Look toward the future but make sure you take time to enjoy the “now”.

In the scheme of things, you’re just one small speck in the universe. – I think we all get way too stressed about things that really don’t matter and we let those things control our life. When we become more conscious of that, we really begin to live life.

Are You a Woman in a Man’s World?

“Hey, it’s an ice cream man who’s a lady!  I was the lady…

It was the first year that Good Humor hired women as ice cream truck drivers. It was the summer after my freshman year at college, when I applied for a job as a driver. I fibbed and said that I could drive a standard transmission so I would get the job.  I got the job and as I bucked out of the Good Humor lot on my first day, I learned how.

I have always been the “token” female in my professional circles throughout my life.  To be honest, I never set out to be a front-runner for my gender or to prove a point. I simply followed my interests and and didn’t let the naysayers stop me from what I wanted to do. I just went for it.

In my profession of still photography there are definitely more women in the business now, than when I started.  At times it has been challenging and no doubt many opportunities were lost simply because of my gender.  But I was tenacious and I was passionate about photography and the access my cameras would give me to the lifestyle I wanted. I wanted to explore the world and experience places and events and share them with others. I’ve spent a lifetime doing just that.

I’m amazed at what technology has enabled me to do in my life and in my profession. I have been able to utilize the tools of today and the plentiful electronic distribution portals to bring awareness to various issues or cultures through my still images and motion. Currently, I’m working alongside my partner, Tom Kelly on a project entitled Like a Woman. It’s a series of short films and environmental still portraits of women who are working in male dominated professions – a subject I can certainly relate to.  We’ve just finished our

Taylor Laverty, Pilot of Good Year Blimp, Carson, CA
Taylor Laverty, Pilot of Good Year Blimp Spirit of America

 latest film about Taylor Laverty, a female pilot for the Goodyear blimp, the Spirit of America. She is one of only three female blimp pilots in the world. Taylor amazes me with her skills and professionalism and I am grateful to see the strides going forward in gender equality. 

Change happens slowly,  until it eventually becomes the norm.  By creating these short films I hope to nudge change along a little quicker and  inspire other women to reach for opportunities that are out there and used to be off bounds – not that long ago. I am always looking for interesting stories about women who are paving the way in fields where few women have gone before.  Please contact me.

Breaking Barriers – Like a Woman

I’ve been a photographer for the better part of my life. It’s who I am. I’m also a filmmaker and love telling stories in this medium. And, I’ve been a woman living in a man’s world. Photography and filmmaking are professions that are dominated by men. The still photography business has changed Changedramatically  since I started out – it has become far less technical and many more women have entered this industry. Nevertheless, I’ve spent a lifetime working in a profession where, as a woman, I was in the minority. I never really focused on being a minority. I didn’t have a corporate job and had to compete against men for equal pay and/or opportunities. I was an independent creative entrepreneur. My latest assignment photos were my calling card and they got me in the door and my next assignment. I worked hard, harder than most because I wanted to – I had a strong desire to do something good. There were times (probably more than I know) when I didn’t get the job because I was a woman and there were times, when I was paid less money because of my gender.

Things have gotten better for women in the business of photography as well as in other industries but it took the tenacity and commitment of countless women who needed to break down barriers. There have been gains for women but gender biases still exist and we can’t be lulled into complacency by saying, “well, it’s better than it used to be.” The movie industry is dismal in terms of gender equality, women are paid less and make up a small percentage in “behind the scene” roles in the industry, especially in certain sectors like directing and sound design. Other industries like engineering, architecture, computer programming, aviation, firefighting are all gender lopsided and less than 5% of Fortune 5oo companies are led by women. And that’s the key word “led”. We need more women leaders. It’s not just about equality and justice, but women’s leadership potential has been massively untapped. And that’s a fail for us all – economically and socially.

So, I’ve decided to do something about it. I am initiating a project called Breaking Barriers – Like a Woman. My plan is to use my craft (photography/ filmmaking) as I always have, to make a difference. My intention is to create still environmental portraits and short video stories of women who are working in male dominated professions – pilots, computer programmers, engineers, doctors, construction workers, mechanics etc. etc. I want to tell their stories about the barriers they had to break and are breaking. I want to share these stories with the hope they go viral and start a revolution that will empower other women and young girls. I have built a FB page and opened Twitter and Instagram accounts so please “follow” and “like”.   But, more importantly, please share with me and with others your own stories about barriers you’ve broken.

CALL TO ACTION Are you a women working in a profession that is male dominated? Or know someone who is? I am looking for subjects to photograph and film. Please contact me: gail@kellymooney.com