Fitness, fashion and celebrity photographer Cameron Frost says that one of the best parts of his job is the opportunity to travel. Aside from traveling abroad to countries like Denmark and England, he has traveled extensively throughout the United States and has witnessed robust pockets of photographers in some unlikely areas. The following are a few of the cities to which he has traveled. Not only are they good travel destinations, they are ideal places for photographers to live and work.
Charlotte, North Carolina
Considered one of the jewels of the southeast, Charlotte has been historically recognized as an epicenter of finance. Second only to New York City in the number of financial institutions in the city, it also boasts other industries such as health care, energy, food production, and manufacturing. Charlotte is also home to three major league sports teams: football, baseball, and lacrosse in addition to its notoriety in the NASCAR community. One industry, however, that many might not consider is photography.
What Charlotte photographers love about the city is its southern charm. “Charlotte is a big city with a small town vibe,” describes Cameron Frost. Despite its increasing population, the city has been able to retain its close-knit community feel. The benefit for photographers living in a smaller metropolitan area is an increased ability to build long-lasting relationships with clients and other photographers.
One of the other advantages to living in Charlotte is the overall quality of life. Photographers have the advantage of four distinct seasons, all with relatively mild weather. “If a Charlotte photographer needs an autumn landscape for an editorial shoot, they do not have to travel very far,” says Cameron Frost. Additionally, Charlotte photographers can easily utilize the varied geography of North Carolina, because the city is in close proximity to beaches, plains, and mountains.
There is a strong sense of fellowship and camaraderie within the Charlotte photography community. There are several Charlotte photography groups, which organize monthly gatherings that give novice and professional photographers opportunities to talk shop. There are also local chapters for the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) as well as American Photographic Artists (APA). Both are national organizations that host seminars and workshops for photographers. There is also the Light Factory, which owns gallery space for photographic work and offers frequent photography workshops and classes.
The well being of the Charlotte economy depends on its small and medium-sized businesses. Companies have come to rely on local photographers. For instance, Belk Department stores recently moved its catalog work from NYC to Charlotte, where the company is headquartered. Additionally, because of the burgeoning restaurant industry in Charlotte, product and food photographers enjoy numerous opportunities for work. Charlotte enjoys a diverse populace that does not just give the city bragging rights, it makes it an enjoyable place for people, especially photographers, to live and work. “There is definitely a creative trend in Charlotte that is ideal for photographers and other artists,” observes Cameron Frost.
Another ideal small market for photographers is Portland, Oregon More and more photographers have been able to work their way up from assisting work to opening their own businesses with national client bases. “There is still considerable doubt within the photography industry about how successful photographers can be in Portland,” says Cameron Frost. “However, many of the photographers that live there have no intention of leaving, and if you visit the city the city you will understand why.”
Portland photographers have a deep-seated affection for their city, regardless of the constant rain, surplus of competition, and the allure of larger cities. Like North Carolina, Oregon is geographically diverse, and enjoys both beach and mountains. There is a strong outdoor lifestyle, superb public schools, and a great food and art scene.
“Portland attracts all creative types,” says Cameron Frost. In terms of photography, there is the Blue Sky Gallery (Oregon Center for the Photographic Arts), Newspace Center for Photography, Portland Institute for Contemporary Arts, Portland Art Museum, and 3D Center for Art & Photography, in addition to the countless privately owned galleries. There is also Photolucida, an annual photography festival. Like Charlotte, there is a strong sense of community amongst Portland photographers. Portland also has a local chapter for ASMP, which hosts events for photographers to talk and share.
There are a few disadvantages for Portland photographers. There is a lot of competition in Portland, and photographers are notorious for underpricing their skills. Fortunately, ASMP has been raising business skills and educating photographers about pricing their work. “Photography is as much a business as it is an art,” says Cameron Frost. “If photographers have as much business acumen as they do creative ingenuity, they will be more successful.”
Cameron Frost Explains Big Town Marketing for a Small Town Photography Business
It turns out that photographers do not all have to flock to the country’s biggest cities to be successful. Cameron Frost has a few marketing strategies for photographers who live in small towns.
Competition between professional photographers is real. Competition between a professional photographer and someone who simply picks up a camera and calls him or herself a professional is not real.
Photographers that find a niche within the industry, something that sets their work apart from others, will be faced with less competition and more success.
Do not be afraid to do something pro bono once, just to generate public interest. Photographers can create a mock marketing campaign that demonstrates their style and skills.
Partnerships with local charities do not merely improve a photographer’s public image; they are also a great way to form a support network within the community.
The most important thing for photographers in smaller towns and cities to remember is to be creative and proactive. “Passionate photographers who want business have to take initiative in getting creative with their marketing,” says Cameron Frost.
Cameron Frost has been a professional photographer for the past 10 years. Based out of Las Vegas, Nevada, he has had his work featured in a number of publications including Instinct, DNA, Popstar, Elle, and People. He is also involved with several charities such as The Trevor Project, Human Rights Campaign and PetSmart Charities.