How To: Get Your Photography Noticed
Simple Pleasures for The Ragged Priest by Naomi Wong
Naomi Wong has shot for HYPEBEAST, Wonderland and Dazed Beauty, as well as a number of brands like Converse and Depop, but her photography journey started by studying filmmaking at university. “I never stopped taking photos after finishing my A Levels. When I was in my first year of film school I fell out of love with making films – they say you end up disliking the thing you do as a hobby once you start studying it, and that was sadly true for me,” she explains. After graduating, Naomi spent time applying for internships and entry-level jobs in the film industry, fully feeling the torment of current graduates trying to get their foot in the door. “I have this insanely depressing document somewhere on my laptop of all the jobs I applied for and it’s around 106.” she says. “Out of that, I had two unpaid internships, one paid internship and one job offer. I stumbled on it recently and just thought, ‘wow I really was sad as fuck back then,’ because nothing was happening for me. It was difficult working 40 hours in an awful restaurant whilst trying to stay optimistic about post graduate life.” Naomi’s story is a prime example of how quickly your career can take a turn for the better. She was working in social media strategy for a publication as well as in marketing for an architecture practice when she let go of the latter role. “Two weeks later I received one of my first commissions,” she says. “Somehow things just kept going in a circle and leading me back to taking photos.”
Naomi’s work has been described as capturing “constructed images in a documentary-like style,” that evoke “a feeling of longing and nostalgia.” Her latest project taps into her British-Chinese identity. “It’s very personal for me and I have stalled it for over a year because I’ve been too afraid to even start! I can’t wait to see how it goes,” she says. “With personal projects, it can be ever changing and you never know how things will go.” Through all of her projects however, Naomi believes her heritage has helped her develop a sense of thoughtfulness that allows for deeper connection with her subjects. “I think it may have helped convey a sense of sensitivity when I photograph people from various different backgrounds, because I can emphasise certain things that may be similar for us, and we bond over our shared experiences.”
Naomi’s key to a successful shoot? “Everyone should always feel seen and appreciated no matter what role they play on a shoot.” Find her tips on how to break into the industry below.
Develop your style
Sometimes you scroll through a photographer’s Instagram and you notice how much the style of their work has changed and jumped within one year. It’s good to experiment with what you want to do and there is no limit to taking photos. Try to develop your own style and perspective but don’t jump from whatever photographic trend is going on to another. For some people it takes a year but for some it may take a little longer, be patient and stay true to your vision.
Don’t be afraid to reach out!
This is something I need to actually keep reminding myself. Years ago I assisted a photographer and when I asked her how she was getting work she just replied “oh people just contact me.” So for some time after that I thought you weren’t supposed to reach out and introduce yourself, I thought that made you look a little desperate and wasn’t the way to do things. I was completely and utterly wrong! Reaching out to editors at publications, creative agencies and brands you want to work with is extremely daunting at times but it’s the best way to introduce yourself and your work. Sometimes you don’t hear back and that is fine, keep going. You will always end up with something else that works for you.
Check in on yourself
Take time for yourself, whether that’s logging off Instagram or even taking a short break from making work. Do what feels right for you. I was talking to a friend of mine who is an actor and we both agreed our jobs are similar. We both pursue the thing we love to do and sometimes it’s constant, everything is happening at once and other times it’s calmer than you want it to be. Having doubts and worries is obviously so human but when you find yourself struggling, don’t push yourself – it’s always good to reflect and come out with a clearer head.